Chargers’ Clary is top earner in perfomance-based pay

Jeromey Clary earned $405,859 in additional pay in the NFL's Performance-Based Pay system in 2008. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)

Jeromey Clary earned $405,859 in additional pay in the NFL's performance-based pay system for 2008. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)

San Diego Chargers offensive tackle Jeromey Clary received the most money in the NFL’s performance-based pay system, which rewards players for playing time based upon their salary level, the league announced today.

Approximately $105 million was distributed to players in the system for their performance during the 2008 season.

Clary, a 2006 sixth-round draft pick out of Kansas State, earned $405,859 in additional pay. He started all 16 games last season after starting six in 2007.

Rounding out the top five earners in the system this year are Arizona Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein ($348,134), Washington Redskins safety Chris Horton ($342,197), New Orleans Saints guard Carl Nicks ($335,033) and Cleveland Browns cornerback Brandon McDonald ($329,803).

Performance-based pay was created as part of the NFL’s 2002 collective bargaining agreement extension with the NFL Players Association. The system sets up a fund that’s used to supplement 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.

In 2009, the performance-based pay fund will be approximately $3.5 million per team, which is a 5 percent increase over the 2008 fund.

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

Last year, nearly $99 million was distributed to players in performance-based pay for 2007. The highest payment was $309,534, earned by Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Wille Colon.

Under the system, performance-based pay is computed by using a “player index.” To produce the index, a player’s regular-season playtime (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.

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