Seeking to recover more than $10 million in bonuses paid to wide receiver Charles Rogers, the Detroit Lions on Wednesday will present their case to an arbitrator in a grievance against their former first-round draft choice.
The second player selected overall in the 2003 draft, Rogers was released last year by the Lions after three seasons marked by injuries, inconsistency and a four-game suspension in 2005 for a repeat violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
The former Michigan State star worked out for a few franchises last season, and drew some interest from three CFL teams this year. But he was not offered a contract and Rogers, 26, has not played since the Lions released him.
In 2003, Rogers signed a rookie contract with a maximum value of $54.6 million. The Lions paid the former Michigan State star $14.4 million in signing and option bonuses and $16.19 million over three seasons in total bonuses and base salaries. For that investment, Detroit realized very little in return, as Rogers appeared in only 15 games, with 36 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns.
Rogers' contract included a stipulation that if he was suspended for a violation of the NFL substance abuse policy, he would have to repay Detroit a prorated share of his bonuses. That clause, and Rogers' 2005 suspension, form the basis of the Lions' grievance. The grievance, in which the Lions are seeking repayment of $10.18 million, was originally scheduled to be heard in May, but was delayed for unknown reasons.
An arbitrator will rule within three months of the Wednesday hearing.
Rated the top wide receiver in the 2003 draft class, Rogers suffered a broken collarbone that ended his rookie season after just five games. He then suffered the same injury on the third play of the 2004 season and spent the final 15 games on injured reserve. Rogers was suspended in 2005, and played in only nine games that season, and later admitted during an interview on The NFL Network that he had tested positive for marijuana.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.