Shortly after offensive tackle Jeff Backus re-signed with the Detroit Lions, it was reported that his new two-year deal was worth $10 million. Then, once his contract became official, we learned that his deal was only worth $5.85 million. What was the source of the discrepancy? It turns out Backus' new contract has the potential to be worth around $10 million. From Dave Birkett:
Quick note on Jeff Backus' new deal: He can earn incentives of up to $4.4 million by playing 90 % of the snaps over the next two years.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 27, 2012
Barring an injury or losing his starting job, chances are Backus will earn those incentives. If he does, then he will end up with an additional $4.4 million, bringing the total amount of money he gets from his new contract to around $10 million, which was the number we originally heard.
While Backus probably will hit those incentives, the Lions are essentially protecting themselves a bit by including this in his deal. If he were to get hurt or if the Lions drafted an offensive tackle who took over the starting job (resulting in Backus being on the bench) next year or something, the Lions would not have to pay out the full $10 million that could potentially be earned by Backus from his new deal.