Costly horseplay: Cards won't pay injured Pace

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calvin Pace, who is on the non-football injury list after suffering a severely lacerated forearm during a bye week accident last month, will not be paid his base salary for the balance of the season.

League and team sources confirmed that the Cardinals have opted, as is their prerogative for players on the non-football injury list, to withhold $306,544 of Pace's scheduled base salary of $473,750 for the 2005 season. That represents 65 percent of Pace's base salary.

Further, the team is expected to seek reimbursement for a prorated portion of the $2.1 million signing bonus that Pace received as a first-round choice in the 2003 draft. That could amount to approximately $271,000 more in penalties.

Because the collective bargaining agreement permits teams to withhold the compensation of players injured in non-football activities, it is believed Pace cannot appeal the decision of club officials. Agent Pat Dye was traveling Wednesday and could not be immediately reached for comment.

Pace, 25, was injured during the team's Oct. 16 bye week at his Atlanta-area home, when his right forearm smashed through a window. It is believed the accident occurred as Pace and a longtime friend were engaging in horseplay, and the defensive end slipped on his wooden floor. No arrest was made and no charges were filed. Pace underwent surgery on his right arm and faces months of rehabilitation.

A former Wake Forest star, and the 18th player selected overall in the 2003 draft, Pace almost certainly would have been elevated to the starting lineup by now, given that the Cardinals lost Pro Bowl end Bertrand Berry to a season-ending pectoral injury last week. Arizona is precariously thin at defensive end.

After playing sparingly in his first two seasons, and registering 5½ sacks in 30 games, Pace appeared poised this summer to emerge as a viable pass rush threat. He tied for the NFL lead in sacks during the preseason, with four, and seemed to figure prominently in the Cardinals' plans, at least as a situational pass rusher. Pace appeared in five games before the accident and posted 11 tackles and one sack.

There was considerable speculation that Pace, who was chosen by the former coaching staff and who engendered few loyalties from the current one, might be released after the 2004 campaign. His current status with the Cardinals appears tenuous now, even though his contract runs through the 2007 season.

Arizona has been consistent in its resolution of non-football injury incidents. In 2002, the club withheld compensation from tailback Thomas Jones after he broke his hand in an off-field incident.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.