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The NFL announced Friday the 2022 season’s performance-based pay distributions, a collectively bargained benefit compensating players based on their playing time and salary levels. Players will collectively receive $336 million for their performance during the 2022 season.
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Among the top earners included Jaguars center Luke Fortner and safety Andre Cisco. Fortner, drafted in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, was the third-highest earner, bringing in $819,686. Cisco, selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, earned the sixth-most at $763,775.
Fortner and Cisco were the only Jacksonville players among the top 25, though it’s likely plenty of others earned performance-based pay for last season.
The league’s top earner was Eagles safety Marcus Epps, who earned $880,384 after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The NFL’s Performance-Based Pay program creates a fund for supplemental compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary. Normally, players with higher playing time but lower salaries benefit most from the program, which can apply to any player appearing in at least one official down.
To compute a player’s bonus distribution, the NFL uses a complicated index formula that weighs multiple factors, including salary, signing bonus, incentives, number of years in the league, number of plays during the season on offense, defense and special teams and the relative index values of other players on his team.
Fortner, a rookie last season, started all 19 games (regular season and playoffs) for the Jaguars. He earned the starting center gig early on in training camp and never relinquished the role, becoming a key member of the team’s offensive line.
In January, Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke and his performance during his rookie season. Baalke was complimentary of the former Kentucky Wildcat, noting his competitiveness and intelligence.
“I think what you saw is a guy that’s got a chance to have an outstanding career in the National Football League. He’s highly competitive, he’s smart, he’s tough, he’s got the size, he’s got the skillset to be a very good player in this league for a long time,” said Baalke.
“To come into this league and play in the middle of the offense, play the center position with all that has to go into it mentally that goes into playing that position. To do as well as he did is a credit to him and the work that he puts in. He’s a pro’s pro at a very young age, I look at him as an old soul. I think the best is in front of him.”
Including Fortner’s bonus, the center earned $1,524,686 for last season’s play, which includes his base salary of $705,000.
Cisco, coming off his second season as a pro, played in and started 17 games (regular season and playoffs). It was the most action Cisco has seen in the NFL to date. He accounted for 73 total tackles, 10 pass breakups and three interceptions, including a pick-six.
Cisco was drafted with the first pick in the third round of his draft and has quickly become one of the team’s most impactful players in the secondary. He tied for the team lead in picks with safety Rayshawn Jenkins and cornerback Tyson Campbell.
Cisco is expected to enter his third season with the club as the team’s starting safety. Including his bonus, Cisco earned $1,423,775 last season, which includes his base salary of $660,000.
The Jaguars have often utilized mid-late-round picks as key contributors over the years. Last season, the team’s longest-tenured player, Tyler Shatley, started the entire year as the team’s left guard. He was signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft.
Demetrius Harvey is the Jacksonville Jaguars reporter for the Florida Times-Union. You can follow him on Twitter at @Demetrius82.