As in all walks of life, employment in the NFL occasionally comes with a bonus.
In recent years, it has become customary for many NFL veterans to have per-game roster bonuses worked into their contracts in addition to their weekly salary. Whether they earn those bonuses is often determined by their game-day availability.
Coming into the season, the Green Bay Packers had roughly $7 million of their $143 million salary cap earmarked for that particular compensation. However, the early rash of injuries has resulted in the Packers saving $1,033,500 of that allocation so far this season.
Defensive tackle B.J. Raji has the most to gain from being on the 46-man game-day roster, with $1 million of his $2.75 million contract tied up in per-game roster bonuses. The provision was inserted into the one-year contract Raji agreed to in March after he missed all of last season with a torn right biceps muscle.
For that reason, Raji missed out on earning an extra $62,500 when he was deactivated in the Packers’ 27-20 win over San Diego two weeks ago because of a groin injury. Raji returned to practice on Monday and could be back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against Denver.
Receiver Jordy Nelson was scheduled to earn up to $500,000 in per-game bonuses before he tore his ACL in the preseason and wound up on injured reserve. A torn MCL landed tight end Andrew Quarless on temporary injured reserve last month, costing him a little under $100,000 for the eight weeks he’ll miss.
Occasionally, teams can use it as a way to protect themselves when a player is facing possible suspension. The Packers went that route with defensive lineman Letroy Guion after a February arrest for felony possession of marijuana.
Guion agreed to a one-year, $2.75 million deal, including $750,000 in per-game roster bonuses. His four-game suspension wiped out nearly $200,000.
The Packers have 14 players earning weekly bonuses for their presence on the game-day roster:
$62,500: DT B.J. Raji
$46,875: DL Letroy Guion
$37,500: QB Aaron Rodgers
$31,250: LB Clay Matthews, OLB Julius Peppers, WR Randall Cobb, CB Sam Shields, T Bryan Bulaga
$25,000: G Josh Sitton
$18,750: S Morgan Burnett, G T.J. Lang, OLB Mike Neal
$14,063: RB James Starks
$12,000: TE Andrew Quarless
$10,000: QB Scott Tolzien
A few other things…
» Safety Sean Richardson rejoined his teammates for the Packers’ annual team picture on Monday.
Richardson was placed on injured reserve Oct. 15 after developing another herniated disc in his already surgically repaired neck. The injury is expected to end the 6-foot-2, 216-pound safety’s career after four NFL seasons.
Two other players on injured reserve, receiver Jordy Nelson (torn ACL) and linebacker Sam Barrington (foot), also were on hand for the photo. Defensive lineman Josh Boyd, who’s recovering from a broken ankle, didn’t attend.
» Former Packers receiver Donald Driver and University of Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan were announced Tuesday as the 2016 inductees into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.
They will be inducted April 30 at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
“When I started my career as a seventh-round draft pick from Alcorn State, I never envisioned myself being in any hall of fame, let alone one that is filled with great names like Hank Aaron and Vince Lombardi,” Driver said during Tuesday’s announcement.
They'll be the first inductees in seven years for the hall, which has been on hiatus since 2009.
email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod. This report includes material from Associated Press.