Loophole keeps rookie Pro Bowler Phillip Lindsay from winning bigger bonus

FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2018, file photo, Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay practices before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati. He didn't get invited to the NFL combine and wasn't selected in the NFL draft. Then, an injury threatened to keep Phillip Lindsay from the spoils of his sensational season, the Pro Bowl. Although he won't be playing, the Denver Broncos rookie running back is attending the league's annual all-star game as a social media correspondent for the league. (AP Photo/Gary Landers, File)

First Denver Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay got the draft shaft. This week he got the salary snub.

Despite rushing for 1,037 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns on an undrafted rookie minimum contract, Lindsay surprisingly didn’t crack the top 25 of the league’s performance-based bonus program this week. When the checks were cut, Lindsay received an extra $201,519 on top of his league-minimum base pay of $473,112.

It was certainly a nice bump, leaving Lindsay as one of the NFL’s biggest bargains in 2018. Not only did he average 5.4 yards per carry (best of all the 1,000-yard rushers), Lindsay was the only undrafted rookie to score a Pro Bowl nod, finishing ninth overall in rushing despite missing one game last season.

Blame the league’s algorithm for performance bonuses, which doles out salary bumps based on the size of a player’s contract versus the percentage of available snaps they play.

By all accounts, it’s an equitable program, allocating slightly more than $4.4 million per team to dole out among everyone who plays a snap. Unfortunately, the program doesn’t take into account the quality of those snaps. Which means a guy like Lindsay – who was undrafted out of Colorado but played roughly 34 percent of the Broncos’ snaps available to him – can be remarkably underpaid and remarkably impactful in his performance but not get fully recognized for it.

It’s a weird loophole that has no remedy for some lowly paid high achievers, barring some kind of Pro Bowl or All-Pro bonus for those who achieve such an honor while failing to gobble up snaps and also falling below a certain salary line.

Interestingly, Lindsay didn’t even earn the Broncos’ top bonus bump. That honor went to guard Connor McGovern, who started 15 games and was awarded with a $300,952 salary adjustment. That landed McGovern 20th on the list of bonus payouts. The top spot this year was taken by Baltimore Ravens center Matt Skura, who started all 16 games this season and got a bump of $395,660 added to his base pay of $555,000.

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