Workout Bonuses

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

TeamWorkout Bonus
Estimate
Chiefs$6,249,165
Packers$4,350,000
Bengals$2,830,000
49ers$2,795,000
Raiders$2,754,000
Bills$2,405,000
Cardinals$1,825,000
Panthers$1,710,000
Giants$1,652,500
Jets$1,640,000
Bears$1,605,000
Redskins$1,545,000
Vikings$1,545,000
Saints$1,257,500
Patriots$1,215,500
$1,092,500
Titans$895,000
Eagles$880,000
Browns$725,000
Jaguars$720,000
Dolphins$670,000
Buccaneers$500,000
Seahawks$400,000
Cowboys$365,000
Lions$185,000
Chargers$160,000
Rams$100,000
Broncos$0
Texans$0
Falcons$0
Steelers$0
Colts$0
Ravens$0


 

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