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49er Chris Borland gives up millions by retiring at 24

San Francisco 49ers' linebacker Chris Borland shocked the football community by announcing his retirement from the National Football League. Borland, only 24, cited the risk of repeated head trauma as his main reason for leaving the game after only one year in the league.

Borland told ESPN earlier Tuesday he would go back to school and possibly start a sports management career. Obviously the entry-level salaries there won't rival his current NFL contract—and certainly not his future contracts. We couldn't resist calculating how much money Borland might be leaving on the table and reached out to Robert Raiola, aka the "Sports Tax Man," for some perspective.

The linebacker's original rookie contract was for $2.93 million over a four-year period, according to Raiola. The next three years broken down were worth serious six figures:

2015: $530,000
2016: $620,000
2017: $710,000

The deal also included a $617,436 signing bonus, and "the 49ers have the ability to go after a portion of the signing bonus" if they want to. Assuming a rough ratio of three-quarters of that bonus (to reflect the three years he isn't playing on the four-year deal), that could mean around $450,000 for the 49ers.

Several other players have recently retired early. Patrick Willis, 30, of the 49ers is giving up $7.8 million in 2015 salary because of foot injuries. Jake Locker, 26, of the Tennessee Titans, retired after making $12.6 million in his short career, citing a lack of burning desire to keep playing.

Going after the money?

Chris Borland #50 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a tackle against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 16, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Getty Images
Chris Borland #50 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a tackle against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 16, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

There's no word yet on whether the 49ers will go after Borland's signing bonus. Sports watchers think the 49ers could go after the money to discourage other players from exiting their contracts early, but need to balance the possible bad press attention.

And then there is performance-based pay. Raiola said Borland's performance-based pay for 2014 was worth $155,469 and actually hasn't been paid out yet. "It's payable in April 2015," said Raiola, adding smaller workout bonuses of $10,000 were payable for each of the next three years under his contract.

And this was just Borland's rookie contract in which salaries are depressed compared to the millions available to veteran players. The average linebacker salary is more than $1 million per player. If Borland had lasted five more years in the league past his rookie deal, and was paid just an average rate, that's another $5 million he could be giving up.

Certainly Borland is giving up millions to end his career so early. He's already made that calculation, saying that his long-term health is more important.

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