New Detroit Lions regime utilizing play-time incentives in contracts

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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New England Patriots strong safety Tavon Wilson (27) warms up during practice Nov. 4, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass.

The new Detroit Lions regime has executed only a handful of contracts so far, but it's clear that general manager Bob Quinn and salary cap manager Matt Harriss favor play-time incentives as a way to both lure and protect themselves from veterans.

The Lions used such incentives infrequently in the past -- typically on players such as Louis Delmas, who had a significant injury history.

But of the four deals the Lions have done in the past week, three include significant bonuses tied to playing time.

Lions free agency coverage roundup

Defensive tackles Tyrunn Walker and Haloti Ngata both signed short-term contracts that include bonuses for every game they're on the active roster this season.

Walker, who missed most of last season with a broken leg, will make $21,875 each game that he's on the active roster. Ngata, who turned 32 in January and missed two games last year with a strained calf, will make $15,625 for each game he's on the 46-man game-day roster.

Safety Tavon Wilson also has $500,000 per year in play-time incentives built into his two-year contract, though, unlike Ngata and Walker, those incentives appear to be tied to his role. The incentives are based on snaps, not games.

Of the four players the Lions have signed to deals in the past week, only receiver Marvin Jones, who missed all of the 2014 season with foot and ankle injuries, does not have play-time incentives in his contract.

Jones, the most sought receiver in free agency, had much more leverage in negotiations than Walker, Ngata or Wilson.

Jones, who told the Free Press Wednesday night that he picked the Lions over several other suitors because of the opportunity to play a significant role on offense, is expected to sign his five-year, $40-million deal today.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter@davebirkett.

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