There are plenty of players on the Houston Texans who are in the midst of amassing generational wealth with contracts totaling tens of millions of dollars over multiple seasons. Indeed, if J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, Duane Brown or Johnathan Joseph are out to dinner, they're likely picking up the check. For a few Texans, like DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney, it's just a matter of time until they sign their second NFL contracts and enter the Watt-Cushing fiscal bracket.
However, the majority of NFL rosters are made up of guys who will play in the league for a small handful of seasons with base salaries that, while far more than the average American working man and woman, don't even come close to their seven-figure teammates. These players are in a race to amass as much as they can for their short careers before joining the rest of us in the real world.
Texans center Greg Mancz is a great example of one of these "nuts and blots," blue collar guys. He was undrafted a couple years ago out of Toledo, managed to hang around on the fringe of the Texans roster for a season, and when opportunity knocked in 2016 — specifically, starting center Nick Martin's preseason ankle injury — Mancz answered, solidifying the middle of the offensive line all season long under adverse circumstances.
Mancz made a base salary of $525,000 in 2016, which, again, is an other worldly wage by average American standards. However, that's the current minimum in the NFL. Nothing is guaranteed for Mancz going forward, except he will have to compete all over again for his job next season, this time with a healthy Martin.
It's for players like Mancz that the NFL created an annual performance-based bonus system, based on playing time and salary levels. In plain English, it's a chance to reward contributors to a team's NFL season who are, perhaps, underpaid (sometimes grossly so) for their performances. As first reported by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle , Mancz received the highest check of any Texan, in the amount of $314,808.
The performance-based pay system was created in the 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, and has paid out more than $1 billion in bonuses in that time. Players need to merely play one official down to be eligible for a bonus. The amount of the bonus check is calculated through an index, under which a players total plays on offense, defense and special teams is divided by his adjusted regular-season compensation, his full-season salary, prorated portion of signing bonus and earned incentives.
Here are the other Texans receiving bonus checks:
Corey Moore, safety: $257,752
Andre Hal, safety: $227,357
D.J Reader, nose tackle: $159,851
Christian Covington, defensive end: $151,893
Max Bullough, inside linebacker/special-teams contributor: $133,161
Benardrick McKinney, inside linebacker: $131,300
Ryan Griffin, tight end: $122,843
C.J. Fiedorowicz, tight end: $119,537
Xavier Su'a-Filo, guard: $105,754
Braxton Miller, wide receiver: $98,256
Jay Prosch, fullback: $96,854
The highest check received under the performance-based system around the league was for Atlanta Falcons defensive back Brian Poole, whose check totaled $371,783.
Future Texans Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo actually received a check in the total amount of $64.11.
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