Vikings C John Sullivan topped all NFL players in performance-based pay earned in 2009, according to figures released by the league Tuesday.
Sullivan, a 2008 sixth-round draft pick, earned $397,555 in pay, in addition to the regular compensation he earned as part of his contract with the Vikings.
Rounding out the list of the top 10 performance-based distributions for 2009:
Bears CB Zackary Bowman, $355,355
Patriots LB Gary Guyton, $349,437
Steelers CB William Gay, 325,607
49ers WR Josh Morgan, $325,421
Saints OG Carl Nicks, 317,313
Dolphins OG Donald Thomas, $316,577
Eagles FS Victor Harris, $314,565
Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick, $306,209
Seahawks LB David Hawthorne, $306,091
The "performance-based pay" program was instituted in 2002 as part of the extension of the '02 Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated between the owners and the players. It awards players for playing time based on their compensation level (salary plus prorated portion of signing bonus plus earned incentives), particularly benefiting those players whose amount of playing time outweighs their relative salary.
More than $587 million has been distributed during the eight years of the program. For 2009, approximately $18.35 million was distributed to 1,956 players. Any player who plays at least one official down in a regular-season game is eligible for the bonus.
Because performance-based pay is allocated only in years in which a salary cap is in effect, it won't be applicable for the 2010 league year, which is being played without a cap.
Since performance-based pay bonuses began in 2002, four players have accumulated bonuses exceeding $800,000 during the eight-year period. They are as follows:
S Erik Coleman, Jets (2004-07) and Falcons (2008-09), $837,654
SS Dawan Landry, Ravens (2006-09), $825,777
OT Jeromey Clary, Chargers (2007-09), $820,804
FS Chris Harris, Bears (2005-06) and Panthers (2007-09), $819,788
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