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Joe Flacco among NFL players with millions of bonus dollars on the line

A little over a month ago, quarterback Joe Flacco was sitting at home — not on an NFL team for the first time since his senior year of college at Delaware in 2007. The Cleveland Browns called and wanted to take him to practice. They signed him to the practice squad on November 20.

He was signed to the 53-man roster on December 14. It came with a contract that included incentives that seemed unattainable, but Flacco’s improbable journey has been one of this season’s most fascinating storylines.

The 38-year-old has won four straight, including Thursday’s win over the New York Jets that clinched the Browns’ first playoff bid since 2020.

He also got an incentive. For each victory, Flacco earns $75,000. The total is $225,000 for three wins, as his first win on December 10 came before the new deal was signed.

“It’s obviously a very unique situation for me,” Flacco said of his journey this season after the game, “so a lot of different emotions are going through my head.”

Bonuses increase significantly as the Browns advance in the playoffs.

He is one of the few quarterbacks with contractual incentives as the regular season draws to a close.

Here’s a look at some of the incentives, according to Roster Management System, that will be in play over the last two weeks and leading up to Super Bowl LVIII on February 11.

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills, quarterback

Allen has been one of the most high-profile players in the league and has worked his way into the MVP conversation. He is tied with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as the third betting favorite, according to ESPN BET. If Allen wins the MVP award, he will receive a bonus of $1.5 million.

If the Bills win the AFC Championship Game and Allen plays 60 percent of the offensive snaps, he will earn an additional $1 million. If the Bills win the Super Bowl and he plays 60% of the snaps, he’ll earn an additional $2.5 million.

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), the Bills have a 14.8% chance of making the Super Bowl and a 7.4% chance of winning it.

Joe Flacco, Cleveland Browns, QB

If the Browns win a wild-card game and Flacco plays, he’ll earn an additional $250,000, and he’ll add another $500,000 for playing in a divisional round victory. Flacco would receive an additional $1 million for playing in an AFC title game, and if the Browns won the Super Bowl and he played, he would earn an additional $2 million. The most he can earn is $4.05 million.

FPI gives the Browns a 42.8% chance of making the divisional round, a 10.4% chance of making the conference title game and a 2.7% chance of making the Super Bowl.

Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, QB

Mayfield is on his fourth team since 2021, but his bounce-back days may be coming to an end after a strong performance this season. Mayfield has the Bucs one win away from an NFC South title.

Mayfield played 99.7 percent of Tampa’s snaps and he’ll earn $1 million if he finishes the season above 85 percent. It will increase to $2 million if the Buccaneers make the playoffs, and FPI has an 84.3% chance.

If Tampa makes the playoffs, Mayfield will earn $250,000 in each playoff game in which he plays at least 75% of the snaps.

He can also earn $300,000 for each of five passing categories in which he finishes in either the NFL’s top 10 or the NFC’s top 5: passing yards (currently 12th in the NFL, seventh in the NFC), completion percentage (17th and 8th), passer rating. (ninth and fifth), touchdown passes (tied for sixth and fifth) and passing yards (12th and seventh).

Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis Colts, QB

The Colts signed Minshew before drafting Anthony Richardson with the No. 4 pick, and Minshew became a valuable insurance policy after Richardson injured his throwing shoulder in Week 4 and had to undergo season-ending surgery.

Minshew helped the Colts (8-7) double their win total from last year.

Minshew will earn $2 million if he plays 60 percent of the Colts’ snaps this season, which is more than half of his $3.5 million salary. This is an easy goal for Minshew to achieve since he played 83% of the snaps.

“My situation is really cool,” Minshew said. “But honestly, more than anything, if you play and play well, it all takes care of itself. So it’s cool to have him.”

Minshew can also earn money as a free agent this offseason.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, QB: Prescott will earn $1 million if the Cowboys both win the Super Bowl and he plays at least 50% of the snaps.

Dallas currently has the fourth-best chance to win the Super Bowl at 10.6%, according to FPI.

Tyron Smith, Cowboys, overtime: He played on 68.1% of Dallas’ snaps. If he continues this way, he will earn an additional $4.5 million. His playing time markers increase by 5% starting at 50% playing time. It starts with $1 million for 50% up to $9 million for 90% of snaps.

DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee Titans, W.R.: With 61 catches for 939 yards and six touchdowns, Hopkins earned $500,000 for his yardage. If it reaches 950 meters, that will increase to $750,000, and if it reaches at least 1,050 meters, it will become $1 million.

He’s also set to make money from his catches. If he makes 65 catches, he will win $250,000; if he gets 75, that will increase to $500,000; for 85 years old, it will be $750,000; and for 95, it’s $1 million.

His six touchdowns earned him $500.00. If he catches eight touchdowns, that will become $750,000, and for 10 touchdowns, it will be $1 million.

After playing 70.6% of Tennessee’s offensive plays, he should make $350,000 – he needs to play at least 65% to get that. If it reaches 75-84%, it will become $500,000.

So Hopkins has already earned – or is likely to earn – $1.35 million, with potentially more to come.

Darious Williams, Jacksonville Jaguars, BC: Williams has four interceptions, so he’s already earned $500,000 more. If it reaches six, it will become $750,000 and $1 million with eight. With his playing time at 92.4% defensive plays, he is on pace to cross the 90% threshold and earn $1 million. If he drops below 90% but remains above 85%, he will earn $500,000 instead.

Calais Campbell, Atlanta Falcons, DL: Campbell, with 5.5 sacks, has already earned another $500,000. If he reaches eight, he will receive an additional $500,000. He played 62.3% of the snaps; if he stays above 60%, he will earn an additional $500,000. If the number exceeds 70%, he will end up with a second bonus of $500,000.

“It’s very secondary,” Campbell said. “But it’s a business, and you want to maximize your value, so if you’re putting yourself in a position to make money, you want to do that.”

Jadeveon Clowney, Baltimore Ravens, edge rusher: Clowney, with 8.5 sacks, has already earned $1 million. If he reaches nine sacks, that will reach $1.75 million. He also played 57.8% of the snaps. If he maintains this rate level, he will earn $500,000. If it reaches 60%, it will reach $1 million. In the unlikely event it hits 70%, that would be $1.75 million.

Odell Beckham Jr., Ravens, WR: With three touchdowns, Beckham won $250,000. If it reaches five years, that will increase to $500,000, and if it reaches seven years, it will be $750,000. With 34 catches, he earned $250,000 more. That will increase to $500,000 if he makes 40 receptions and $750,000 if he makes 50.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals, running back: Mixon, with nine total touchdowns (eight rushing, one receiving), needs one more to earn $250,000. If he reaches 12 total touchdowns, that will increase to $350,000.

Raheem Mostert, Dolphins, RB: With 1,187 yards from scrimmage, Mostert has already earned $1 million by surpassing 900 total yards from scrimmage.

Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings, DE: With 15.5 sacks, Hunter hit all of his markers, earning $3 million for surpassing 14 sacks.

Lavonte David, Buccaneers, LB: David will likely make $2.5 million, as one of his incentives was defensive improvement from last season. Tampa Bay has intercepted more passes this season (13) than last season (10). David can also earn $200,000 if he plays more than 65% of snaps (he’s at 83.8%) and the Bucs rank in the top 10 in points allowed – Tampa is No. 11 with 302. He’ll win an additional $150,000 if he reaches five sacks; it is currently at 4.5.

If he hits the 65% mark in regular season playing time, he’ll earn $125,000 per playoff win in Tampa Bay.

Bud Dupree, Falcons, Edge Rusher: Dupree has five sacks and he has played 63.8% of defensive snaps. If Dupree reaches seven sacks, he’ll take home $1 million, and if he plays 70 percent of the snaps this season, he’ll get another $1 million.

ESPN Colts reporter Stephen Holder contributed to this report.

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