Vikings' John Sullivan hits it big in performance-based pay

The NFL dispersed money via its performance-based pay system today and the NFLPA recommended that agents encourage their clients to hold on to the money.

The cash could come in handy in the event of a work stoppage a year from now, and some of the top paid players in the league through this system will have a tidy sum to sock away.

Minnesota center John Sullivan received the biggest check, according to a source familiar with the system, getting $397,555. Sullivan was in his first year replacing perennial Pro Bowl player Matt Birk. He was one of 12 players to get a PBP bonus of more than $300,000. The system divides a total of $109,532,000 among the 32 teams with $3,422,875 being divided by each team. The league uses a formula based on playing time percentage and a player’s salary cap. So the rookie who plays the most to the veteran who plays the least all get a check. For instance, Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who played in only 35 snaps in the team’s opener before suffering a season-ending injury, gets a $452 check.

Five of the top 11 players were defensive backs, including Bears cornerback Zack Bowman who was second at $355,355. Dallas cornerback Orlando Scandrick ranked ninth at $306,209. The former fifth-round draft pick from Boise State has emerged as a future star for the Cowboys. He just turned 23 and will be entering the third year of his four-year contract. Coincidentally, 2010 is the final year of guaranteed money for veteran cornerback Terence Newman in Dallas.

“Orlando is one of those guys that benefits from the performance-based pay,” agent Ron Slavin said. “One, the money is nice for him but the team also realizes how much he’s contributing for a guy that isn’t making a lot of money.”

Scandrick earned $246,000 in performance-based pay last year as a rookie giving him a total of more than $552,000 through two seasons. That extra money brings him in line with signing bonus money for third-round draft picks.

Here are the top 12 PBP numbers from the entire league:

John Sullivan, C, Minnesota $397,555
Zack Bowman, CB, Chicago $355,355
Gary Guyton, LB, New England $349,437
William Gay, CB, Pittsburgh $325,607
Josh Morgan, WR, San Francisco $325,421
Carl Nicks, G, New Orleans $317,313
Donald Thomas G, Miami $316,577
Macho Harris, S, Philadelphia $314,565
Orlando Scandrick, CB, Dallas $306,209
David Hwathorne, LB, Seattle $306,091
Dashon Goldson, S, San Francisco $303,763
Josh Sitton, G, Green Bay $300,622

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