Should Packers Players Be Given Performance Incentives?
Back in March, it was revealed that as a part of Eddie Lacy’s new contract with the Seattle Seahawks, he was given incentives to meet weight restrictions. A couple weeks ago, Lacy met his first weigh-in restriction of being at no more than 255 pounds in May – with two pounds to spare.
If Lacy’s weight is within the limit in all seven of his weigh-ins, he’ll receive a total of $385,000 in incentive pay. His weight limit for September, October, November and December is 245 pounds. Many believe that in 2015 or 2016 Lacy exceeded that amount by 10 to 20 pounds.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll insists that he believes 245 pounds is an ideal weight for Lacy. Last July, I did an analysis that begged to disagree and concluded that his ideal playing weight is from 225 to 230 pounds.
Lacy’s Performance Incentives
After the weigh-in, it was made public that an additional incentive program might earn Lacy a much bigger bundle of money.
The new list of incentives relate to how many rushing yards Lacy records during the 2017 regular season. It goes like this: 800 yards: $250,000 bonus; 900 yards: $500,000; 1,000 yards: $750,000; 1,100 yards: $1 million; and 1,200 yards: $1.3 million.
Lacy’s base contract contains a guarantee of $2.865 million. In addition, if he meets all the weigh-in bonuses, a total of $1 million in weekly roster bonuses and the $1.3 million performance bonus, Lacy will max out at $5.5 million.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider is a big believer in incentives. “Philosophically, I would tell you that any time you can incentivize somebody, I think it’s a good idea — whether it’s sacks, interceptions, play time, weight. Anything you can do like that.”
Should Packers Incentivize Their Players?
While player incentives have many positives, there are also numerous potential negatives. For instance, what if Lacy is at 1,180 yards with a half to go in the final game of the season and it’s a meaningless game because the Seahawks have already clinched the top playoff seed. If Seattle benches Lacy, he’d probably scream bloody murder over the loss of $300,000. If they play him and he is badly injured, that’s another unfortunate result.
What about a big incentive for interceptions – won’t a defensive back be inclined to try to jump pass routes even if it risks the quarterback pump-faking and going deep?
Of course, if a player and his agent seek out incentive-laden contract terms, they are subject to losing out if the player suffers a serious injury. Also, a player with such a contract might be tempted to play despite an injury, thereby risking a more serious injury or preventing an injury from getting the rest and recuperation needed to heal.
I’m wracking my brain to recall whether the Packers have made much use of contract incentives while Ted Thompson has been the team’s general manager. The Packers have relied heavily upon per-game active roster bonuses and OTA workout attendance for a number of years. Otherwise, incentives seem to mostly go to veteran players new to the team.
When Jared Cook signed last year, it was reported he got a one-year deal with a base value of $2.75 million, with another $900,000 available as incentives for catches, touchdowns, and making the Pro Bowl – bad deal for Cook in view of his injuries.
New guard Jahri Evans’ one-year deal has a $1.15 million base, $800,000 ($50,000 per game) in roster bonuses, $100,000 for attending workouts, and $225,000 in “likely to be earned” incentives.
Davon House’s deal includes a base salary of $1.5 million, a signing bonus of $850,000, a roster bonus of $300,000 and a workout bonus of $150,000, for a maximum of $2.8 million – but without any “performance” incentives.
Here’s a few incentive clauses the Green Bay contract execs might consider:
All inside linebackers: $200,000 for making 80 tackles (including assists), $300,000 for 90 and $500,000 for 100.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Mike Daniels, Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, Bryan Bulaga: $100,000 for making the Pro Bowl; $200,000 for making second-team All-Pro, and $300,000 for making first-team All-Pro.
Ty Montgomery: same performance incentives as those of Eddie Lacy
Packers’ punter: contract should be extremely tilted towards incentives for kicks downed within the 20-yard line minus kicks going into the end zone, and for favorable hang time.