Rookie cornerback Maurice Fleming, the hard-luck star of Tuesday’s episode of “Hard Knocks” when he played through a knee injury and was waived by the Bucs, has reached an injury settlement with the team that will pay him just over $100,000.
Fleming, an undrafted free agent from West Virginia, had one of the show’s main storylines Tuesday, showing him coming to One Buc Place before sunrise to get in extra training. He injured his knee on the final drive of last week’s game at Jacksonville, but played through the injury and made a pass breakup on a would-be touchdown to help preserve the Bucs’ 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars.
The show ended with the Bucs having to waive Fleming, but he was well compensated for his injury — he’ll earn five game checks from the Bucs, and at $20,471 each, he’ll earn $102,353 — close to an entire season’s pay on the practice squad. He’ll undergo arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to repair meniscus damage in his knee with a recovery period of four or five weeks, and is eligible to sign with another team as soon as he’s deemed healthy.
NFL rules state that a team cannot re-sign a player who took an injury settlement until three weeks after the period for which they were paid, so the Bucs would have to wait until Week 9 — at the end of October — to sign him to their roster or practice squad.
“You did a really good job here. Love your competitiveness. Appreciate everything that you did. You didn’t do anything wrong,” head coach Dirk Koetter told Fleming on the show as he passed along the news that he would be waived. “I can’t believe …. the fact that you finished out playing with that. The fact that you were able to finish the game, it’s pretty impressive how tough you are.”
Undrafted rookies like Fleming typically sign “split contracts,” which pay players a lesser rate than the NFL minimum should they be sidelined with injuries, so instead of the rookie minimum of $27,353 per week, his settlement comes at a three-quarters rate of $102,353 per week.