With NFL offseason programs beginning there seems to be a lot of talk about workout bonuses, so I thought it was worth putting up a post on the subject.
Many teams use offseason workout bonuses to entice participation in “voluntary” workouts at the team facility during April and May. The bonuses are usually earned by participating in a percentage of workouts. For example a player whose bonus is tied to 90% workout participation would need to attend 33 workouts if the team used the maximum 36 possible workout days to earn his bonus. Every player in the NFL will earn $175 per day for workout participation and in some cases this is in addition to the contracted bonus.
Workout bonuses are a more player friendly contract term since they are earned in the spring and are not subject to forfeiture provisions the way other bonuses are. Its also protected in the event a player is released which is not the case for your base salary.
Our estimated peg the potential league-wide workout earnings to be $40,667,000 in contracted workout bonuses. Some teams believe strongly in workout bonuses. Those teams are the Packers, Bengals, Bills, Raiders, Chiefs, and 49ers. The workout bonuses paid by those six teams make up over $18.5 million of the total workout figure. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Texans, Falcons, Broncos, Ravens, and Steelers who have no workout bonuses in their player contracts.
In addition to the money listed above there are also other important contractual terms that hinge on workout participation. The Cowboys and Redskins both have low workout bonus totals but many of their players will lose base salary if they fail to participate in the offseason program. For example Tony Romo’s salary will de-escalate by $500,000 if he fails to attend. So these teams essentially have workout bonuses in their contract they have just made the bonus much more team friendly rather than player friendly.
In some cases players have escalators in their contracts that hinge on participation in the offseason programs. Who can forget last year when 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown lost a $2 million escalator when his agent failed to advise him that his escalator would void if he failed to attend workouts. His case was extreme because his salary was already accrued but other players can void the opportunity to ever earn such raises by failing to attend workouts. Players should be in contact with their agents if they are considering missing the program.
The largest workout bonus belong to the Jets D’Brickashaw Ferguson at $750,000. Jets Center Nick Mangold has a $500,000 bonus, which is tied for second highest in the NFL. Former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum was a big believer in workout bonuses and these are two of the bigger contracts he signed during his tenure. John Idzik is not as big a believer and has minimized those expenditures. Other players with $500,000 workout bonuses are Patrick Willis, Sam Shields, Eli Manning, Clay Matthews, Mario Williams, Aaron Rodgers, and DeSean Jackson. Frank Gore and Donald Penn can earn $400,000.
Here are our team estimates for workout bonuses in 2013
Team Workout Bonus
Packers $4,350,000 Bengals $3,030,000 49ers $2,695,000 Raiders $2,654,000 Chiefs $2,532,500 Bills $2,205,000 Cardinals $1,825,000 Jets $1,640,000 Bears $1,605,000 Giants $1,597,500 Panthers $1,550,000 Redskins $1,520,000 Vikings $1,495,000 Saints $1,257,500 Patriots $1,215,500 $1,212,500 Eagles $880,000 Titans $795,000 Browns $725,000 Jaguars $720,000 Dolphins $570,000 Buccaneers $400,000 Seahawks $400,000 Cowboys $365,000 Chargers $160,000 Lions $135,000 Rams $100,000 Texans $0 Falcons $0 Colts $0 Steelers $0 Broncos $0 Ravens $0