We regularly hear about the salary cap, base salaries, roster bonuses, and other assorted payments to players. There is a separate payment track outside of the salary cap called performance-based pay that is a benefit not included in the salary cap. The pay is based on snaps vs. salary level.
This year, San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Brown is a big winner. He received $396,837.78 between performance-based pay and the veteran pool. The former is for players with zero or one accrued seasons. The latter is for anybody else.
The former seventh round pick is earning the league minimum, so the fact that he was the team’s starting right tackle meant he cashed in in a big way. He ranked sixth among all players for total bonus pay. He earned $525,000 in base salary, so that represented effectively a 75 percent pay raise for 2016. Again, this is separate from the salary cap. It is a benefit that was negotiated into the CBA separate from the salary cap.
A list was emailed out, and Matt Barrows posted the top ten recipients on the 49ers roster. It is no surprise that late round picks and UDFAs are on this list.
T Trent Brown, $396,837.78
WR Quinton Patton, $203,523.16
OLB Eli Harold, $190,491.20
G Andrew Tiller, $180,228.34
WR Jeremy Kerley, $180,105.00
CB Rashard Robinson, $177,061.39
LB Nick Bellore, $176,407.72
WR Aaron Burbridge, $168,277.18
CB Keith Reaser, $146,165.17
RB Shaun Draughn, $137,434.27
Here is a rundown of how the performance-based pay system 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.
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. 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.
The NFL also offered up this hypothetical distribution to illustrate the system: