Bonus Babies: Top Ten Cowboys Who Cashed-In with ‘Performance Based Pay’

Lael Collins intro press conference

In 2015, Ron Leary passed the torch to La’el Collins. Not just the job of starting left guard for the Dallas Cowboys, but also the top spot on the team’s list of Performance Based Pay.

Performance Based Pay is a system used in the NFL to rewards lower-paid players who play a lot of snaps.   For 2015, each NFL team received $3.802 million to disperse among all players who took part in regular season games. The money earned by players does not count towards the salary cap.

Left guard is definitely the position to cash-in with the Cowboys when it comes to Performance Based Pay. That position has led the team each of the past three seasons.

In 2013 and 2014, Leary led all Cowboys in Performance Based Bay with totals of $307,104.23 and $286,812.61, respectively. But in 2015, La’el Collins (who took over for Leary as the team’s starting left guard last season) tops the Cowboys’ list at $277,939.63.  It was the 14th highest amount in the NFL for the 2015 season. Denver Broncos starting center Matt Paradis earned a league-high $391,647.56.

Collins, whose base salary was the rookie minimum $435,000 in 2015, started 11 games and played in 710 of 1,019 offensive snaps. His low earnings (by NFL standards) and high percentage of playing time resulted in a big payday in the current system.

Collins is one of six Cowboys that topped $100,000 in Performance Based Pay in 2015.

Here’s the Cowboys Top 10 List for 2015:

  1. LG La’el Collins, $277,939.63
  2. S J.J. Wilcox, $227,737.26 (Wilcox was also 2nd in 2014 w/$245,172.57)
  3. LB Anthony Hitchens, $166,697.27 (Hitchens was 3rd in 2014 w/$172,902.81)
  4. WR Terrance Williams, $164,211.23 (Williams was 4th in 2014 w/$159,179.91)
  5. DT Nick Hayden, $144,189.79 (Hayden was 9th in 2014 w/$120,582.60)
  6. DL Jack Crawford, $144,189.79
  7. CB Tyler Patmon, $141,116.91
  8. S Jeff Heath, $135,163.06 (Heath was 11th in 2011 w/$103,780.32)
  9. LB Kyle Wilber, $118,454.41 (Wilber was 10th in 2014 w/
  10. CB/S Byron Jones, $107,255.58


Wilcox, Hitchens and Williams finished in the same spots in 2014 in Performance Based Pay. Hayden and Wilber were also top 10 finishers in 2014.

If you’re wondering which Cowboys player earned the least in Performance Based Pay for the 2015 season, that dubious honor goes to OT Darrion Weems who spent only one game on the active roster. Weems earned $551.30.

Running back Joseph Randle, who in 2015 was on the field for 140 snaps (14% of offensive plays) will receive $33,285.50 in Performance Based Pay.

Although the Performance Based Pay system was set up to reward lower-paid players, even the highest-paid members of the roster can cash-in. Quarterback Tony Romo was the highest-earning Cowboy last season.   He played in only 4 games, but will still receive $2,458.28 in Performance Based Pay.


Author: Kristi Scales

Kristi Scales

Kristi Scales is the Cowboys' multi-award winning sideline reporter who has covered the Cowboys for 25 seasons.

Twitter: @KristiCowboy

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