On Tuesday, the Seattle Seahawks re-signed second-year safety Kevin Ellison, just a few days after waiving him. Within the official press release announcing the re-signing, the Seahawks mentioned that he was re-signed in order to "adjust contractual issues".
As the 189th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, Ellison signed a four-year, $1.851 million dollar contract with the Chargers. Ellison's contract contained a signing bonus of $101,175, with minimum base salaries of $310,000 in '09, $395,000 in 2010, $480,000 in 2011, and $565,000 in 2012. There were escalators that will increase his 2012 contract, as well.
NFLPA records show that Ellison is signed through 2012, so there aren't many noticeable changes to his contract. What has likely changed, however, is the language as it pertains to base salary splits.
Beginning with their fourth-round picks, the Chargers sign their draft picks to contracts that include a pre-season split in each of the first two years of the deal. This means that for each week the player is on the 53-man roster or a reserve list, he will receive 1/17th of his "Up" base salary.
Seattle signs their late-round picks to contracts with "full split" language in the first two years of the deal. This means that if a player is placed on a reserve list at any time during the regular season, the player will be paid 1/17th of his "Down" amount of base salary.
Split amounts in 2010 for players with one accrued season, which Ellison has, are $395,000 (Up) and $240,000 (Down).
Ellison had three knee operations during this career at USC, which according to his lawyer still require treatment with pain medication. When Ellison was waived by the Seahawks last Friday, reports were that it was due to a failed physical, likely relating to knees.
Considering those factors, there's an increased likelihood that if Ellison does make the Seahawks' 53-man roster, he could be placed on a reserved list during the season. By altering the language in his contract, the Seahawks have protected themselves against that.