The Carolina Panthers’ starting guards and two rookie cornerbacks were among the team’s biggest winners as far as collecting extra cash based on their playing time last season.
Left guard Andrew Norwell received $291,975 in performance-based pay – more than any other Panthers player – according to a league source.
Right guard Trai Turner pocketed $232,245, and starting corners Daryl Worley ($249,713) and James Bradberry ($191,765) also were among the Panthers’ top five earners in performance pay.
Free safety Tre Boston ($214,373) also cracked the top five.
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The NFL annually allocates a bonus pool divided equally among all 32 teams. This year each team awarded just under $4 million to players, who get a bump based on their playing time relative to their salary level.
In other words, the program rewards players who out-perform their contracts.
For instance, Norwell had a base salary of $600,000 last season but played every offensive snap, according to Pro Football Reference. So Norwell’s performance-based pay equaled 48.7 percent of his salary.
Norwell, 25, who was undrafted out of Ohio State in 2014, is guaranteed to make $2.75 million this year after the Panthers placed a second-round tender on the restricted free agent.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who had a base of $13.2 million and a cap figure of $20.2 million last season, received only $7,889 in performance pay.
Atlanta cornerback Brian Poole, an undrafted rookie, had the league’s largest performance-pay bonus at $371,873. Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott’s $353,544 bonus was the biggest among offensive players.
Pay for play
A look at the Panthers’ 10 players from the 2016 roster who received the biggest bonuses in the NFL’s performance-based pay program: