The Seattle Seahawks have sued former draft pick Malik McDowell in federal court, stating that he has yet to follow through on an arbitrator’s ruling that he must repay the team nearly $800,000 in forfeited signing bonus money, court records show.
The lawsuit, dated May 29, was filed in the United States District Court’s Eastern District of Michigan. McDowell, who is listed as a resident of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was drafted 35th overall by the Seahawks in 2017 but never played a down for the team after sustaining a head injury in an ATV accident that summer.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by the Detroit News and The Seattle Times and has since been obtained by ESPN, states that an arbitrator ruled on Feb. 29 that McDowell breached his Seahawks contract by riding an ATV and was thus ordered to repay the team $799,238 within 30 days of the ruling. McDowell did not contest the forfeiture, nor did he appeal, but he had yet to repay any of the money owed as of the filing of the lawsuit.
The breach in question relates to paragraph 3 of McDowell’s contract, which includes standard language stating that players shall not “engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.”
The Seahawks waived McDowell with an injury designation in March. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told reporters at the league meetings later that month than an independent doctor had cleared McDowell medically, which the Seahawks would not do.
McDowell, who remains a free agent, visited the Dallas Cowboys after his release from the Seahawks. Rosenhaus said he was “confident” McDowell would play in 2019.
“His doctors believe he is ready to go,” Rosenhaus said. “So we’ve got experts that are saying he will be cleared. So hopefully he will be able to continue his career, possibly with [Dallas]. In any event, he has been cleared independently. But the Seahawks, they tried their best to work with him, and unfortunately they didn’t feel that he could continue to play.”