NFL Players will receive $147.952 million in “Performance-Based Pay” for their performance during the 2019 season, the NFL announced today. The Performance-Based Pay program is a collectively bargained benefit that compensates all players, including rookies, based upon their playing time and salary levels.
In addition to the Performance-Based Pay pool, the NFL Players Association has elected to dedicate $83.2 million in benefits (i.e., $2.6 million per club) to fund a Veteran Performance-Based Compensation Pool (the “Veteran Pool”) for players with one or more accrued seasons. In total, $231.152 million will be disbursed to players under the combined pools.
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback CHARVARIUS WARD earned the highest combined distribution of all NFL players in the 2019 Performance-Based Pay program. He earned a total of $654,750, nearly 15 percent more than his 2019 salary, comprised of the following amounts: $428,335 from the Performance-Based Pay Pool, and an additional $226,415 from the Veteran Pool. Ward, a 2018 undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State, started all 16 games for the Chiefs during the 2019 regular season, playing in nearly 95 percent of the Chiefs’ defensive plays, as well as nearly 26 percent of the Chiefs’ special teams plays. He earned the league minimum salary for a player with one credited season (i.e., $570,000). Ward signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Cowboys in May of 2018 before being traded to the Chiefs in August 2018. During Kansas City’s Super Bowl-winning season in 2019, Ward finished second on the team with a career-high 10 passes defensed and registered his first two career interceptions.
Players have been paid approximately $1.8 billion cumulatively since the inception of the Performance-Based Pay program, which was implemented as part of the NFL’s 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL Players Association.
The Veteran Pool is a component of the Rookie Redistribution Fund, which is a player benefit that was created under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NFL Players Association elected to fund the Veteran Pool for the first time in 2016 and has extended the benefit each season since then.
See the tables below for the top 25 distributions in each category, as well as combined totals.
HOW PERFORMANCE-BASED PAY WORKS
Under the Performance-Based Pay program, a fund is created and used as a supplemental form of player compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary. Players become eligible to receive a bonus distribution in any regular season in which they play at least one official down. In general, players with higher playtime percentages and lower salaries benefit most from the pools.
Performance-Based Pay is computed by using a player index (“Index”). To produce the Index, a player’s regular-season playtime (total plays on offense, defense and special teams) is divided by his adjusted regular-season compensation (full season salary, prorated portion of signing bonus, earned incentives). Each player’s Index is then compared to those of the other players on his team to determine the amount of his Performance-Based Pay.
The Veteran Pool is computed in a similar manner, with two significant modifications: 1) players with zero accrued seasons are not eligible to receive distributions, however, such players remain eligible to receive distributions under the Performance-Based Pay program; and 2) to calculate the eligible player’s Index, if the player’s full-season base salary is less than $1 million, an additional amount will be imputed so that the player’s base salary equals $1 million. By imputing a minimum of $1 million to the denominator of the Veteran Pool’s index calculation (playtime divided by salary), a slightly higher percentage of the pool is directed to high-performing veteran players whose salaries exceed $1 million but are not among the highest in the league, as contemplated by the formula. This imputation of salary is solely for the purpose of calculating distributions from the pool, and does not affect the actual salary paid to the player under his contract.
ILLUSTRATION OF PERFORMANCE-BASED PAY SYSTEM
Each player on the same team competes for his own share of his club’s Performance-Based Pay pool. The hypothetical example in the table below illustrates how the Player Index works, using a simplified four-player team and a club bonus pool of $1,000,000. Each player receives his share of the pool depending on how his Index compares to those of his teammates.
% of Club Bonus Pool
(C/Team Total C)
(D * $1,000,000)
|Player A||50%||$ 500,000||10.0||50% of the Club’s pool (10 out of 20)||50% * $1,000,000 = $500,000|
|Player B||50%||$ 1,000,000||5.0||25% of the Club’s pool (5 out of 20)||25% * $1,000,000 = $250,000|
|Player C||20%||$ 500,000||4.0||20% of the Club’s pool (4 out of 20)||20% * $1,000,000 = $200,000|
|Player D||10%||$ 1,000,000||1.0||5% of the Club’s pool (1 out of 20)||5% * $1,000,000 = $50,000|
|Team Total:||20.0 Points|
** Index is multiplied by 107 for legibility purposes only
TOP 25 PERFORMANCE-BASED PAY DISTRIBUTIONS FOR 2019
|1||Charvarius Ward||Kansas City||CB||Middle Tennessee St.||2018||UDFA||$428,335|
|4||Xavier Woods||Dallas||S||Louisiana Tech||2017||6||$403,298|
|6||Ted Karras||New England||C||Illinois||2016||6||$393,363|
|8||J.C. Jackson||New England||CB||Maryland||2018||UDFA||$375,004|
|10||Matt Milano||Buffalo||LB||Boston College||2017||5||$360,498|
|13||Tre Flowers||Seattle||CB||Oklahoma State||2018||5||$340,118|
|14||Dre Greenlaw||San Francisco||LB||Arkansas||2019||5||$339,981|
|15||Zach Pascal||Indianapolis||WR||Old Dominion||2017||UDFA||$328,890|
|17||Emmanuel Moseley||San Francisco||CB||Tennessee||2018||UDFA||$326,516|
|18||Gardner Minshew||Jacksonville||QB||Washington State||2019||6||$319,098|
|19||Jordan Whitehead||Tampa Bay||S||Pittsburgh||2018||4||$313,985|
|20||Chuck Clark||Baltimore||S||Virginia Tech||2017||6||$311,857|
|22||Marshall Newhouse||New England||T||Texas Christian||2010||5||$307,476|
|23||Allen Lazard||Green Bay||WR||Iowa State||2018||UDFA||$307,304|
|24||Dennis Daley||Carolina||T||South Carolina||2019||6||$306,889|
|25||Jon Halapio||NY Giants||C||Florida||2014||6||$306,081|
UDFA – Undrafted free agent
TOP 25 DISTRIBUTIONS FROM THE VETERAN POOL
|1||Ted Karras||New England||C||Illinois||2016||6||$242,584|
|2||Matt Milano||Buffalo||LB||Boston College||2017||5||$237,672|
|4||Charvarius Ward||Kansas City||CB||Middle Tennessee St.||2018||UDFA||$226,415|
|6||Jordan Whitehead||Tampa Bay||S||Pittsburgh||2018||4||$215,356|
|7||Jon Halapio||NY Giants||C||Florida||2014||6||$214,374|
|9||Xavier Woods||Dallas||S||Louisiana Tech||2017||6||$212,457|
|14||Damontae Kazee||Atlanta||S||San Diego State||2017||5||$202,885|
|15||Zach Pascal||Indianapolis||WR||Old Dominion||2017||UDFA||$200,948|
|18||Tre Flowers||Seattle||CB||Oklahoma State||2018||5||$193,666|
|22||Jerome Baker||Miami||LB||Ohio State||2018||3||$191,282|
|23||Pat Elflein||Minnesota||G||Ohio State||2017||3||$190,797|
|24||Taylor Moton||Carolina||T||Western Michigan||2017||2||$190,592|
|25||David Mayo||NY Giants||LB||Texas State||2015||5||$190,166|
UDFA – Undrafted free agent
TOP 25 COMBINED DISTRIBUTIONS (PERFORMANCE-BASED PAY PLUS VETERAN POOL)
|VETERAN POOL||COMBINED DISTRIBUTION|
|1||Charvarius Ward||Kansas City||CB||Middle Tennessee St.||2018||UDFA||$428,335||$226,415||$654,750|
|2||Ted Karras||New England||C||Illinois||2016||6||$393,363||$242,584||$635,947|
|4||Xavier Woods||Dallas||S||Louisiana Tech||2017||6||$403,298||$212,457||$615,755|
|6||Matt Milano||Buffalo||LB||Boston College||2017||5||$360,498||$237,672||$598,171|
|9||J.C. Jackson||New England||CB||Maryland||2018||UDFA||$375,004||$184,032||$559,036|
|11||Tre Flowers||Seattle||CB||Oklahoma State||2018||5||$340,118||$193,666||$533,784|
|14||Zach Pascal||Indianapolis||WR||Old Dominion||2017||UDFA||$328,890||$200,948||$529,838|
|15||Jordan Whitehead||Tampa Bay||S||Pittsburgh||2018||4||$313,985||$215,356||$529,341|
|16||Jon Halapio||NY Giants||C||Florida||2014||6||$306,081||$214,374||$520,454|
|17||Emmanuel Moseley||San Francisco||CB||Tennessee||2018||UDFA||$326,516||$174,002||$500,519|
|18||Damontae Kazee||Atlanta||S||San Diego State||2017||5||$295,050||$202,885||$497,934|
|19||Chuck Clark||Baltimore||S||Virginia Tech||2017||6||$311,857||$183,103||$494,960|
|22||Marshall Newhouse||New England||T||Texas Christian||2010||5||$307,476||$169,375||$476,850|
|UDFA – Undrafted free agent|