The Cincinnati Bengals will have two significant roster bonuses for quarterback Andy Dalton and linebacker Vontaze Burfict after the league rolls into the new year on March 10, 2015 at 4 p.m. (ET). This is the date when expiring contracts actually expire and when free agents are allowed to sign with new teams -- there is a one week negotiation period that's allowed without the endless reminders about tampering.
On March 14, 2015, Burfict will earn a $3.15 million roster bonus -- this is after the $3.8 million roster bonus that he already earned in 2014. Combining his roster, workout and signing bonuses ($3.1 million), Burfict will have earned $12 million of the $19.004 million that he signed for, with two years remaining. Don't feel sorry for him... this is when his base salary really starts ratcheting up with $2.85 million in 2016 and $3.75 million in 2017 and workout bonuses of $200,000 in each of the last two years.
Two days before Burfict earns his roster bonus, Andy Dalton will see a $4 million roster bonus on March 12 -- the highest bonus among anyone on the roster this offseason. Defensive tackle Domata Peko ($1.5 million), offensive tackle Andre Smith ($1 million), and cornerback Adam Jones ($250,000) will also be receiving notable bonuses.
Roster bonuses are generally this: If you're on the roster by a specific date, you will receive lots of extra money. This has been the structure that Cincinnati has used with their high-priced contract extensions, such as for defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Atkins earned a $3 million roster bonus in 2014. Dunlap received a roster bonus of $3.7 million soon after signing his five-year extension with another $5.7 million earned as a roster bonus in year two.