Three of the Packers’ top four bonus earners for the 2020 season came into the league as undrafted players.
Each year, the NFL awards additional compensation to its players above and beyond those players’ contracts. As stipulated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the players’ union, each team receives a pool of $8.5 million to split up among its roster based on the players’ existing contracts and the number of snaps they saw on the field over the prior season.
These bonuses, which do not count against the salary cap, are proportional to playing time and inversely proportional to a player’s adjusted compensation for that season. In other words, a player gets more money when he plays more has a lower contract.
As a result, it should come as little surprise that players on rookie contracts — particularly those drafted late — and undrafted players tend to sit atop the lists of players who earn the biggest PBP numbers. For the Green Bay Packers, that is indeed the case, with three undrafted players and one fifth-round pick rounding out the team’s top four for 2020.
Cornerback Chandon Sullivan leads the way for the Packers. With an adjusted compensation number just over $1 million and a playing time rate of 77.4% on defense, Sullivan narrowly eclipsed the $500,000 mark, cashing in a PBP number of $500,291. In order, the next three players are wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (5th-round draft pick in 2018), guard Lucas Patrick (undrafted), and tight end Robert Tonyan (undrafted). The first highly-drafted player on the Packers’ list (and the only one in the team’s top 12 to be drafted before the fifth round) is Elgton Jenkins, who did not miss a snap on offense.
Notably, every player who suited up in an NFL game is eligible for this added compensation, even though many players’ PBP numbers come in very small. For example, Aaron Rodgers will get just under $30,000 despite a high playing time number, which is due to his high contract value. The lowest number on the team for 2020 goes to defensive tackle Anthony Rush, who earns an extra $547 for a handful of snaps.
However, these players will need to wait for some time until they can collect these additional checks. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo notes that as part of the negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA over COVID-19, the two sides agreed to defer PBP payments from the 2020 season to no earlier than 2024. Thus, Sullivan and the rest of these players across the league will not be able to collect their share of that $8.5 million per team for a few years.
Overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Alex Cappa led the NFL in PBP with about $622,000. The third-year player, a former third-round draft pick, did not miss a snap on offense in 2020.