Lovie Smith has never shied away from putting young players on the field and that ultimately puts them in position for an end-of-season windfall.
Safety Kevin Payne received one of the larger bonuses around the league in the performance-based pay system. The safety who started all 16 games last season picked up a bonus check of $302,218, largest on the team by a wide margin. It doesn't quite match his base pay from last season of $370,000, but it's a nice chuck of change to pick up in the offseason.
The NFL began a performance-based pay program in 2002 to compensate players based on their playing time vs. their contract. As such, it tends to pay off for younger players who were later round draft picks but get substantial playing time. Every single player who plays one snap during the season receives a check. Each team in the league received $3.257 million to divide amongst its players and the NFL Management Council is the one that slices the pie. Defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, who appeared in only one game as a backup, gets a check. Cameron Worrell, signed to play special teams in Week 17, gets a check. Even Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs got additional pay.
Payne's is believed to be one of the bigger ones in the league as it represents 9.28 percent of the Bears' pie. Tampa Bay offensive tackle Donald Penn pulled down a PBP bonus of $310,919. In comparison, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning received $4,483.
The other top Bears:
Left guard Josh Beekman $239,000
Cornerback Corey Graham $226,000
Linebacker Nick Roach $184,000