Steelers' Colon top earner in performance-based pay

Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Wille Colon earned the top figure in the NFL's "Performance-Based Pay" system that awards lower-salaried players for playing time, according to a league release.

Approximately $100 million of performance-based pay was distributed to players in the system. Colon, a 2006 fourth-round draft selection from Hofstra, earned $309,534 in additional pay.

Rounding out the top five: Chiefs safety Jarrad Page ($286,135), Ravens safety Dawan Landry ($284,568 ), Panthers tight end Jeff King ($281,264) and Buccaneers safety Tanard Jackson ($278,227).

Performance-based pay was created as part of the NFL's 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement extension with the NFL Players Association. The system creates a fund used as a supplemental form of player compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary. This program will stay in place through the remaining years of the CBA in which a salary cap exists. The fund increases by a fixed amount of five percent each year.

For the 2007 season, the fund totaled $100.8 million ($3.15 million per club). The fund will be $3.3 million per team this season and $3.5 million per club in 2009.

Players become eligible to receive performance-based pay in any regular season in which they play at least one official down.

Under the system, performance-based pay is computed by using a "player index." To produce the index, a player's regular-season playing time (total plays on offense, defense and special teams) is divided by his adjusted regular-season compensation (full season salary, prorated portion of signing bonus, earned incentives). Each player's index is then compared to those of the other players on his team to determine the amount of his pay.

"The system was formed to benefit lower-salaried players," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "If a player is making the minimum salary but plays in a high percentage of his team's plays, he will get a larger payout of the pool than a teammate with the same amount of playing time but a higher salary."

One hypothetical example is "Player A" in 2007 earning a salary of $600,000, playing in 50 percent of his team's plays. His bonus would total approximately $60,000. "Player B" has a salary of $6 million and took part in a similar percentage of plays. His bonus would be approximately $6,000.

" 'Pay for Performance' rewards players who may be on the bottom of the team pay scale, but play a majority of the games," says NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw.

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