While perusing today (after nine days I’d finally gotten it back from Florio Jr.) the January 10, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated, featuring a svelte Vince Wilfork on the cover, I noticed at page 20 a quote from Texans running back Arian Foster regarding the gifts he plans to give the five linemen who helped him become the NFL rushing leader.
“They all make more money than me,” Foster said. “A lot more. I’ll figure something out.”
As it turns out, the gap this year will be even bigger.
In past years, Foster could have funded the gesture with performance-based pay, a system for supplementing the compensation of players with low salaries who spend a lot of time on the field. Undrafted in 2009, Foster had a second-year base salary of $395,000. His role as the Texans’ workhorse tailback would have resulted in a significant check for his on-field efforts in relation to his pay.
Under the performance-based pay system, a player obtains an index, based on the total number of plays in which he participated, divided by his total compensation. The players having the highest index numbers (i.e., those who worked the most for the least) received the largest slice of each team’s allocation under the program.
Last year, Vikings center John Sullivan picked up an extra $397,555, based on the fact that his salary was $385,000 and he started every game.
But last year was the last year of the program, thanks to the rules of the uncapped year. As a result, neither Foster nor any other player will receive the benefit of a program that paid out $109.5 million after the 2009 season, and more than $600 million in eight years.
If Foster had known about this wrinkle (and it’s possible that he did), he could have told his linemen during the season that he’ll give them each 10 percent of his performance-based pay, if he emerges as the leading rusher in the league.