Contract clause makes bad behavior costly

With his already shaky image further dented by last week's one-game suspension, San Diego Chargers wide receiver David Boston has plenty of incentives for rehabilitating the manner in which he is perceived, and one of them is financial.

The seven-year, $47 million contract that Boston signed with the Chargers this spring as an unrestricted free agent includes an addendum that allows the team to recover $3 million in past or future earnings if the fifth-year veteran is suspended.

Among the infractions that are specifically laid out in the so-called "liquidated damages" addendum, and which could trigger action by the Chargers to recoup the money, is any suspension for "conduct detrimental to the team."

That is the precise term San Diego officials used last week when the club suspended the enigmatic Boston for its Sept. 28 game against the Oakland Raiders. The wide receiver was subsequently reinstated Monday and, despite battling some nagging injuries, is expected to start Sunday when the Chargers face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There had been rumors when the Chargers signed Boston, who had a number of off-field indiscretions during four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, that San Diego officials had failed to protect themselves financially against any missteps by the wide receiver. But in recent weeks, league sources confirmed that Boston's pricey contract provides the club some options to escape total financial exposure.

Because of the addendum, the Chargers essentially could move at any time to recover the $3 million, given Boston's suspension. It is believed, however, that San Diego officials are not yet inclined to invoke the terms of the addendum, but will use it as an incentive for Boston to remain problem-free for the balance of the season.

Such addendums are not unusual in pricey contracts. But terms that trigger the possible recovery, and the amount that can be recouped, is generally not standard.

"If I keep going around here acting like a fool," Boston told The San Diego Union-Tribune, "then I think they will [attempt to recover the money]. But I think, right now, that's not even an issue."

Boston, 25, forfeited $32,352 of his $550,000 base salary because of the suspension last week, but he is appealing the team's action.

His contract with the Chargers included a $4.55 million signing bonus. His is also due a $3 million second-tier option bonus next spring and his 2004 base salary of $3.9 million is guaranteed.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.