The Cincinnati Bengals released guard BJ Finney on Friday, ending a year of confusion, fear and physical limitations for the former $ 8 million player.
Finney struggled to train properly this offseason for fear of losing a $ 2 million signing bonus from the Seattle Seahawks due to COVID-19 restrictions on physicals, sources told ESPN. Finney signed a two-year, $ 8 million deal with Seattle last March, but never played an offense for the team, coming into camp out of shape.
Seattle sent him to Cincinnati as part of the Carlos Dunlap deal in October, and he didn’t play there, either. The main problem: With teams unable to supervise physicals last offseason due to the coronavirus outbreak, they put clauses in contracts that failed physicals would result in the loss of signing bonus money.
Finney wasn’t able to take his physical until training camp – the Seattle building was temporarily closed and the team did not allow third party physicals, which some, but not all NFL teams did. So Finney cut back on his workouts to avoid hurting himself and showed up to camp above his normal playing weight of 315 pounds.
The absence of organized team activities and minicamp in June did not help the former undrafted free agent who relies on intelligence and anticipation over raw athleticism. He was eventually defeated by Ethan Pocic in downtown Seattle.
Another free agent signed by Seattle last year confirmed that the contract problem with physicals was an obstacle.
“He put a player like him in a bad situation – he literally couldn’t work out to get fit, and he was in a bad mood all year because of it,” said a source close to Finney with direct knowledge of the situation. ESPN. “This is the only time you can prepare for life, and if you pinch your back or do something, you risk losing your contract.”
Finney ended up earning $ 3.03 million from Seattle, where he played 29 special teams plays, none on offense, and $ 1.47 million from Cincinnati.
Finney, 29, spent the first four seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.