Two Buffalo Bills players, linebacker Matt Milano and cornerback Levi Wallace, were among the top-ten players who benefited the most from the NFL’s performance-based pay benefit in the 2019 NFL season.
Per Adam Schefter, Wallace and Milano ranked ninth and tenth, respectively, in overall financial gains from the performance-based pay pool. In addition to his $570,000 base salary, Wallace earned an additional $363,599 from the pool. Milano’s base salary of $645,000 was supplemented by $360,498 from the pool.
The performance-based pay benefit is a fund “created and used as a supplemental form of player compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary. ... In general, players with higher playtime percentages and lower salaries benefit most from the pools.” Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News explained the benefit beautifully in the article quoted above.
In addition to the performance-based pay benefit, Skurski also explained a separate fund, this one maintained by the NFL Players’ Association, called the Veteran Performance-Based Compensation pool. That pool is for players with at least one accrued season, whereas the league-run performance-based pay pool applies to all players including rookies.
Per Skurski, Milano earned the second-most compensation from the veteran’s pool, behind only New England Patriots center Ted Karras. Milano made an additional $237,672. Wallace ranked 12th in overall earnings from the veteran’s pool, earning an additional $205,356. Left tackle Dion Dawkins, in his third full season, was 16th in earnings from the veteran’s pool list, adding $198,095 to his base salary of $795,294.
In all, Milano pulled in an additional $598,171, nearly doubling his base salary on the season. Wallace earned an additional $568,954, which essentially did double his earnings on the year.
The two pools combined to distribute more than $230 million to NFL players, and since the inception of the performance-based pay program in 2002, more than $1.8 billion has gone to the players. Player earnings are determined by a formula which divides a player’s regular season playing time by his adjusted salary (which includes all bonuses, performance escalators, etc.). That index is then compared to other players on his team in order to determine the amount of compensation earned.