Top-end salaries make the headlines, but plenty of lesser-compensated players have a chance to play their way to better pay in today's NFL.
Kansas City's Charvarius Ward is the face of the latter group after the 2019 season, according to the list of the top 25 performance-based pay distributions.
Ward earned $428,335 in additional pay thanks to his play for the Super Bowl-winning Chiefs, according to the list. The former undrafted free agent from Middle Tennessee State started all 16 games for Kansas City, recording 74 tackles, 10 passes defended, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 2019.
Second on the list was Browns rookie linebacker Mack Wilson, a fifth-round pick who was called into action following a season-ending pectoral injury to Christian Kirksey. Wilson appeared in all 16 games (starting 14), recording 82 tackles, one sack, seven passes defended, one interception and one forced fumble. His play proved to the Browns they have a future option at the position, likely leading to Cleveland's decision to release Kirksey this week. For his efforts, Wilson made an additional $415,296.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport noted the amounts made by players in 2019 could increase dramatically in future seasons under the proposed new collective bargaining agreement, if passed.