When Cam Newton signed his five-year $103 million extension, the contract included his base salary and a signing bonus, but it also included several workout bonuses. The workout incentives were apparently designed to motivate Cam to spend his offseasons in the gym instead watching Netflix and eating Cheetos like the rest of us bums.
Outside of workout bonuses, most incentive payouts in NFL contracts are tied to traditional statistics like sacks, tackles, receptions, downs played, and not getting injured by a slippery fondue pot.
As a fan, my preference would be for incentive bonuses to be tied to plays that not only influence the outcome of the game, but are also just simply awesome to watch. After all, the NFL exists for entertainment, so why not incentivize players to entertain us?
With that in mind, every NFL contract should include incentive bonuses for these 10 important yet exhilarating plays.
1) Punter/Kicker Saves a Touchdown: Most returners are faster than cheetahs equipped with nitrous oxide. Punters and kickers are about as athletic as the average Math teacher. So when a kicker tracks down a returner from behind to save a touchdown, they should get paid. (Jason Baker, this one’s for you.) Amount: $250,000.
2) Offensive Player Strips Defender After an Interception/Fumble: Turnovers can swing a game, so when an offensive player strips the defense after a pick or fumble, show him the Benjamins. Plus, this exciting play allows fans’ emotions to immediately flip-flop from, "Dang it, we stink!" to, "Yay, we don’t stink after all!" in about four seconds. Amount: $200,000.
3) Starting On-Field Scuffles Against Rival Teams: We simply call this incentive "The Steve Smith Clause." Amount: $8,989.89 plus the team posts bail.
4) Making a Play Without a Helmet: Yes, it’s reckless. But admit it, you love watching dudes lose their helmets and still finish the play. It’s manly. It’s tough. These warriors deserve a bonus, but mainly because there is a 99.8% chance of a serious head injury and they will need help with their medical bills. Amount: Doctor’s visit copay plus a bottle of aspirin.
5) Offensive Line Downfield Block: When a 300-pound man rumbles 20-plus yards to make a big downfield block, he deserves a reward. Yes, this even applies to Byron Bell. Amount: $75,000, payable in Golden Corral gift cards.
6) Block FG by Jumping Over the Offensive Line: Actually, I HATE THIS PLAY! Boo on Kam Chancellor! Boo! Booooooo! Amount: Nothing! Fine him! FINE HIM!
7) Wide Receiver Blindside Block: The average NFL wide receiver weighs around 200 pounds. The average linebacker tips the scale around 240 pounds. Linebackers love to tee off on wideouts when they cross over the middle, so when your favorite 5’9" receiver lights up an All-Pro linebacker, it’s money. Amount: $75,000.
8) Gunner Immediately Drills Punt Returner: Nothing says, "Sure, we have to give you the football, but we are gonna make you pay for it!" like having your gunner nail the punt returner right when he catches the ball. Gunners don’t get enough love, or money, but they should. Amount: $50,000.
9) The Tip Leading to an Interception: Interceptions are often caused by tipped passes, but the player who gets all the glory is the one who catches the ball fluttering down from the heavens. Shouldn’t we start paying the guy who caused the interception in the first place? Amount: $125,000.
10) Making the Greatest Play in Team History: Actually, no incentive bonus is needed for turning 3rd-and-14 into a 69-yard game winning overtime score to reach the NFC Championship. Amount: Priceless.