Terence Steele leads Cowboys in performance-based pay bumps

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Matthew Lenix
·2 min read
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Undrafted free agent tackle Terence Steele saw the field more than he could’ve ever imagined for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. Due to a season-ending hip injury to starting right tackle La’el Collins, Steele played in all 16 games with 14 starts and gained much-needed NFL experience.

That’s not the only thing the former Texas Tech Red Raider will take away from his rookie campaign. ESPN’s Todd Archer reported that Steele will pocket a team-high $487,135 due to the NFL’s performance-based pay system.

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The rest of the top 10 list is as follows:

Dalton Schultz – $412,911
Brandon Knight – $389,758
Donovan Wilson – $386,617
Michael Gallup – $386,481
Connor Williams – $382,238
Darian Thompson – $288,143
Dorance Armstrong – $260,498
Connor McGovern – $247,760
Trevon Diggs – $238,898

There is however one caveat when it comes to when these players will see that money. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the performance-based pay was deferred for a few years due to negotiations over the salary-cap shortfall. Players will receive those payments in 2024 or later and it will never impact the team’s cap space.

The league adopted this particular program in 2002. It provides additional compensation to players that outperform their contracts based on their particular salaries. The NFL takes a player’s regular-season playtime (total plays on offense, defense and special teams) and divides it by his adjusted regular-season compensation (full season salary, prorated portion of signing bonus, earned incentives). Then, a player’s index is compared to those of the other players on his team to determine the amount of his pay.

Steele logged 970 offensive snaps and added another 78 on special teams last season.

While the Cowboys appreciate Steele stepping up to plate in the absence of Collins they hope it’s not a reoccurring theme. That doesn’t appear to be the case at the moment though, as it was reported back in February that both Collins and Tyron Smith were progressing well from the ailments that derailed their 2020 seasons.

With Smith and Collins resuming their starting role in 2021, Steele will go back to being a reserve at the tackle spot along with fellow undrafted free-agent Brandon Knight and veteran Ty Nsekhe who was signed last month.