On Tuesday, the NFL announced its recipients of performance-based pay for the 2015 season. According to Pro Football Talk, more than $121 million was paid out to players using a formula that rewards players based on playing time compared to salary.
Players who log the most snaps but have lower salary levels compared to their teammates are paid from a fund that started in 2002 and has paid out more than $1 billion since its inception.
Of all Bengals players, Russell Bodine received the most performance-based pay in 2015. In fact, only two players received more performance-based pay than the Bengals center: Broncos center Matt Paradis and Vikings tackle T.J. Clemmings. Bodine received $352,271 for his 2015 performance in addition to his base salary. Granted, it wasn't necessarily a tribute to the center's effectiveness--rather, it revealed how many snaps and playing time the center was able to log despite having such a small contract as a fourth round draft pick.
Bodine's base salary in 2015 was $510,000, but he played every single snap all season. In fact, he was the only guy to play every offensive snap last season. Despite this, Bodine was paid less than several of his teammates, including the recently re-signed Pat Sims, who played 16.5 percent of his team's defensive snaps, Will Clarke, who played on just over 12 percent of defensive snaps and Rex Burkhead, who played under 7 percent of offensive snaps (snap counts per Pro Football Reference). According to Spotrac, Bodine has made just over $2 million in two seasons as Cincinnati's starting center. He may be the most underpaid player on the Bengals' entire roster.
Despite this, fans still beg the Bengals to move on from Bodine and draft a new center. Personally, I think fans are over-exaggerating Bodine's performance (or lack thereof). T.J. Johnson came in on 16 snaps in 2015, but Bodine still remained in the lineup on all 16 of those snaps. The Bengals obviously like what they see in Bodine. He's only 23-years-old, so it's ridiculous to think he's hit his ceiling. I don't think there's any chance of the team drafting a new center to be a starter in the 2016 NFL Draft, and I think a pick spent on a center would be a waste.
Marvin Jones was also one of the 25 players who received the highest performance-based pay. Receiving a base salary of $660,000 in 2015, the wide receiver added $261,458 in performance-based pay. That's pretty ludicrous, considering how the receiver was one of football's top number two wideouts last season. But Jones' $40 million contract with the Lions more than makes up for his lack of pay in Cincinnati. Per Spotrac, the wide receiver made just over $2.5 million in his four-year Bengals career. Such is the case when you're a late-round draft pick who becomes a starter!
Cincinnati was the only playoff team who boasted two of the 25 players paid the most for their performance. That's a testament to the Bengals, as it shows they were able to hit on lower-round draft picks better than other teams over the past few seasons. Hopefully the Bengals will be able to find another gem or two in the middle-to-late rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.