Each year, the NFL allocates a predetermined amount of money for each team to hand out in performance-based incentives. The purpose is to reward players for outplaying their compensation in base salary. It’s based on their playing time percentage compared to how much their paycheck is, so for an undrafted rookie who played half the team’s snaps, his bonus is going to be larger than, say, that of Khalil Mack’s.
Rookies who play a large number of snaps typically make the most money, seeing as they aren’t paid as much as most veterans. For high-priced players who hardly play, well, their bonuses are minimal.
Here are the eight most interesting bonuses we found from the NFL’s release on Wednesday.
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Bills RB Reggie Bush: $14,615.83
Bush made history in 2016, and not in a good way: He was the first running back ever to finish with negative yardage on 10 or more carries in a single season. He rushed for minus-3 yards in 2016, a dubious number. His reward? A check for more than $14,000 on top of his $1.5 million salary. Not bad at all for a guy who didn't go the extra mile -- or even the extra yard.
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Tom Brady: $14,102.25
Jimmy Garoppolo: $33,490.30
Jacoby Brissett: $41,333.79
Brady was one of the best quarterbacks in the league this past season, leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl win in an MVP-caliber 12-game campaign. The two quarterbacks who filled in for him during his four-game suspension – Garoppolo and Brissett – both earned significantly more than Brady in bonus money, simply because Tom makes much, much more from his paychecks. Still it’s weird to see Brissett making nearly triple that of Brady in any capacity.
Jaguars QB Chade Henne: $35.28
Henne was way down on the totem pole in terms of performance bonuses, earning just over $35.28 for his one snap – a kneeldown – in 2016. What can he buy with that? About five Chipotle burritos, a steak at an expensive restaurant or a dinner for two at Chili's. It's probably not even enough to fill an SUV's gas tank.
USA TODAY SportsReinhold Matay
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson: $1,316.95
Peterson played just three games for the Vikings this past season, averaging a measly 1.9 yards per carry in what was his worst year in the NFL. He never found the end zone, but despite his disappointing season he landed some extra pocket change to spend in his next city.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: $354,544.57
Prescott earned $450,000 in base salary last season, proving to be worth much more than that as he took home Offensive Rookie of the Year. As a fourth-round pick, he’s not going to make much money for the next few years, but if he keeps playing well, he’ll nearly double his salary. Prescott made the most in performance-based bonuses for an offensive player in the NFL last season, netting $354,544.57.
Cowboys QB Tony Romo: $64.11
Romo made his triumphant return to the field in Week 17 against the Eagles, playing one series that resulted in a touchdown pass by No. 9. That march down the field proved he can still play at a high level, likely earning himself some money if he hits free agency, but it also netted him $64.11 in performance-based pay. That's enough to buy a bus ticket to Houston and a meal to eat along the way.
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Falcons CB Brian Poole: $371,783.11
Poole didn’t figure to play a huge role for the Falcons when he went undrafted, however, he played a large percentage of Atlanta's snaps. His play earned him $371,783.11 in performance-based pay, which was the most of any player in the NFL this season.
Eagles QB Chase Daniel: $228.12
Daniel was released by the Eagles last week, just one year into his three-year, $21 million deal. He was paid well by the Eagles, and he’ll leave them with a little bit of extra cash in his pocket – $228.12 to be exact. That’s what he got for throwing one pass last season.