Following the 2002 season, the NFL introduced a new system of player compensation meant to benefit those who play close to minimum contracts. This so-called "performance-based pay" scheme awards players based on the number of snaps they play in relation to the contract they have signed.
Back when the first performance payout took place, San Francisco 49ers guard Eric Heitmann received the biggest share: His check over $42,048 led the NFL. 14 years later, this sum would place 37th other players ahead of him – on the New England Patriots’ roster alone. Heitmann’s 2002 pay would rank him right between what relatively high-earning veterans Martellus Bennett and Julian Edelman received this year.
Overall, the bonuses are divided into two pools from which each NFL club has to finance its performance payouts. The first pool of $3.995 million is given out to all players who have spent time on the team, while the second one of $1.0 million will be divided solely among veterans. Naturally, some players receive payments out of both pots.
This season, via Doug Kyed, the Patriots’ two payout pools look as follows:
When combining the two pools, New England’s starting center David Andrews emerges as the player to receive the largest share. The 24-year old’s payout of $426,344.26 is more than 80% of his 2016 salary of $525,000 and presents a nice raise for the former undrafted free agent.
Another noteworthy receiver of the share – and former undrafted rookie as well – is cornerback Malcolm Butler. The restricted free agent, who is currently in contract dispute with the Patriots, received a combined $368,882.72.
But even those who did not receive that big a part of the payout cake were happy about it. Rookie defensive tackle, Vincent Valentine, for example, saw an extra $94,003.27 in his bank account today. His tweet speaks for itself:
When that PP check hit the account pic.twitter.com/xK04ByLEaV— Vincent Valentine (@TheRealVRVJ) March 15, 2017