|Despite Cruz's breakout season, there will be no performance-based paychecks in his immediate future. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
Unlike 2002-2009, there will be no performance-based pay for NFL players following the 2011 season, NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis told the Newark Star-Ledger this week. This was also the case in 2010's uncapped season and the ramifications mean this: guys like Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz will earn their base salaries for last season and not a dime more based on on-field contributions.
"Francis wrote in an email that money has been allocated elsewhere to overall salaries and benefits following the lockout and the agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement," the Star-Ledger's Mike Garalo wrote Friday. "One example of where such money has been redirected was the $3-million salary-cap exemption teams received to keep veterans this past season. This season, teams will have three $1.5-million exemptions.
"According to Francis, performance-based pay is a part of the new CBA and will be paid out in the future, though the league and the union are 'still negotiating the language.'"
In 2009, the last year for performance-based pay, Vikings center John Sullivan was rewarded with a $397,555 bonus (his base salary: $385,000) and Giants cornerback Bruce Johnson earned an extra $270,766.
Nicks, in the third year of his rookie deal, made a base salary of $575,000 in 2011. Cruz, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, made just $405,000. (The Freakonomics blog breaks down an entire team of players who outperformed their current contracts.)
Performance-based pay was a means of rewarding low-salaried players based on productivity. And while five or six-figure checks may not mean much for guys pulling down tens of millions annually, it's a huge deal for young players making league minimum or close to it. But the system hasn't been abolished entirely; in fact, as PFT points out, the new collective-bargaining agreement explains that the fund will exist “[i]n each year League Year after the 2011 League Year.”
Which is good news for (relatively) low wage earners in 2012, less so for the Freakonomics' Dough Bowl All-Stars.
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