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Notes: Some Lions earned substantial performance bonuses for 2022

Young players on the field for many plays got PAID.

Detroit Lions v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Justin Rogers at the Detroit News reported yesterday on the extra money earned by Lions players from the NFL’s “performance based pool” (PBP) of money in the current 2020 collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In his article, Rogers listed the ten Detroit Lions players who received the most from the team’s PBP money (out of all 76 players who were eligible to receive at least some payment from it). The Lions receiving the largest PBP payments includes a bunch of recently drafted players excelling in starting roles like Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jonah Jackson, but also has some unexpected names like Isaiah Buggs and Brock Wright.

Also on Friday, NFL Communications released a document showing the list of top 25 bonus payments league-wide. No Lions were in that list, though. According to Rogers, the Detroit player with the highest PBP bonus payment was safety Kerby Joseph at $523,538 (still over 100k below NFL Communications’ top 25).

As Rogers points out, Article 28 of the CBA calculates the pool’s distribution to each player by comparing how many plays they were on the field for and the amount that player earned from their contract. It is worth mentioning a few things that are interesting about the performance based pool section of the CBA:

  1. The playtime percentage is spelled out on the CBA to explicitly include plays canceled by penalty and special teams snaps like two-point conversions and fake punts, so this is a little different from official snaps. The only requirement for the play to count is that it be run to completion, so pre-snap dead ball whistles like false start penalty plays would not count.
  2. Players can earn these PBP bonuses from multiple teams if they were released and signed to different clubs at various times in the year.
  3. When figuring out how much each player on a team receives, their playtime to compensation ratios are only compared against the other players on that team.
  4. The PBP bonuses are designed to flow toward the lower paid players (read: guys on rookie deals or minimum salary type deals) because the indexes used to calculate each player’s share is a ratio of playtime percentage in the numerator to compensation in the denominator. If a player has a huge contract with a lot of compensation, that is on the bottom of the fraction and drives their PBP index value down. Players who are making near the minimum or even less than the veteran minimum have their playtime percentages divided by a small number, so their PBP index will remain pretty high.
  5. The PBP money is considered a player benefit provided by the league CBA, so these PBP bonus payments do not count against the team’s salary cap.

The expectation this is built on is that if a team is paying a player a lot in compensation, that player should be on the field a lot. On the flip side, a player being paid less would not be expected to play a lot of downs. Therefore, if a player not making a lot of compensation (again, often rookies or veterans on minimum deals) ends up giving a team a lot of played downs then the PBP provides some additional money for that.

If you recall from last year, the Lions played their rookies in 2021 more than any other team in the league. Again in 2022, the Lions’ rookie class appeared on the field for a huge number of plays. Back in January, Justin Rogers pointed out that only three other teams got more defensive snaps out of their rookies than the Lions.

It’s nice to see young players making substantial contributions to the team on the field getting rewarded for it. For more information on what Lions players were paid from the PBP funds, head on over to the Detroit News and check out Rogers’ article. Now, on to the rest of your weekend Notes:

  • This week on Tim Twentyman’s podcast Twentyman in the Huddle, the guests were four Lions with new contracts: Cam Sutton, Alex Anzalone, John Cominsky, and Isaiah Buggs. You can watch the entire episode on the team’s official YouTube channel.

  • The Detroit Lions appear to be middle of the pack (but a bit on the high side) when it comes to departing free agents going to division rivals when the Bob Quinn and Martin Mayhew years are included:

  • The 33rd Team disagrees somewhat with Frelund:

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