Quarterback Brian Hoyer‘s return to the Patriots presents the not-so-classic case of a football player playing for free. Unless he actually ends up playing.
Cut by the Colts with a $2 million salary guarantee for 2020, Hoyer could have made that money by doing nothing at all. Instead, he signed a one-year, $1.05 million deal with the Patriots. That money will go to the Colts, reducing their obligation to Hoyer and resulting in Hoyer still making a total salary of $2 million.
The upside comes from up to $2 million playing-time incentives. The specific formula for earning the full amount isn’t clear. Obviously, however, Hoyer has to earn and keep the starting job to get all of it.
Which means that if Jarrett Stidham (or someone else) wins and keeps the job, Hoyer will indeed be playing for free. Or, more accurately, practicing and preparing to play and showing up for games and doing everything but playing, for free.