Williams’ wallet could be victim of ‘Merriman rule’

Not that he doesn’t have enough incentive to avoid suspension, but Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams has up to $1.5 million more reasons to try to avoid it.

Williams’ contract has salary escalators up to $1.5 million for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons that are based on making the Pro Bowl.

But after the 2006 season, the NFL enacted the “Merriman Rule” that forbids any player suspended by the league from being selected to the Pro Bowl or winning any performance awards.

If Williams’ four-game suspension sticks, he would not be allowed to go to the Pro Bowl. However, it’s possible that a judge will not decide whether Williams is suspended before Dec. 16, the date the Pro Bowl teams are announced.

Williams’ contract has escalators specifically tied to the Pro Bowl. If he is voted to the Pro Bowl twice from 2007-2011 — and he already went last season — he would earn an extra $500,000. If he makes it three times from 2007-2011, Williams would earn an extra $1 million. And if he makes if four times from 2007-2011, Williams would make an extra $1.5 million.

Missing the Pro Bowl this year, or next year, due to suspension would not mean he automatically loses $500,000. He still could be voted to the Pro Bowl any season up to 2011. But for each Pro Bowl that Williams is voted to, the more he stands to make half-million increments.

Being banned from the Pro Bowl this or next year could likely wind up costing him at least $500,000 and possibly up to $1.5 million.

The other Vikings defensive tackle trying to stave off suspension, Pat Williams, has not Pro Bowl clauses in his contract.

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