Julius Peppers signed a one-year contract with the Panthers on June 24. The salary on the contract is the amount of the franchise tag that was placed on Peppers, $16.683 million. Over the course of the 17-week season, Peppers has been earning roughly $1 million per week, the highest salary in the NFL this season (other players may have made more in 2009 due to bonus payments along with salary, but Peppers made the most in pure salary).
First, there are incentives of $250,000 per game for each playoff appearance by the Panthers. Well, so much for that.
Also, Peppers – as long as some easy qualifiers are achieved, which they have been -- has a $1.5M incentive bonus for being elected to play in the Pro Bowl (the largest incentive for making a Pro Bowl that I’ve come across).
Peppers’ constant harassment of Brett Favre in the nationally televised game against the Vikings on Sunday Night Football last week could go a long way to costing the Panthers $1.5M. Although there will be much competition at the position, the huge stage that Peppers had for one of the best games played by a defensive end this year may go a long way toward putting him in Hawaii -- er, Miami -- this year.
If Peppers is elected to the Pro Bowl, his compensation will be more than $18M for the 2009 season. If he’s given the franchise tag again in 2010, the one-year price tag would be 120 percent of that number, or $21.84M. Although it looks like there won’t be a cap in 2010, the Panthers would still have to seriously debate whether to make that kind of one-year commitment on a cash basis or let Peppers test the market.
Some teams have made concessions to get franchise-tagged players to report in the form of a contractual promise to not place the tag on the player again the following year. This was the case with Albert Haynesworth and the Titans.
The Panthers chose another route, with incentives for the playoffs and a large one for the Pro Bowl. It may end up costing them, especially in the midst of a disappointing season.
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