Each year the NFL allocates a certain amount of money to each team to compensate players whose play exceeds their contracts. This "Performance Based Pay" is based on an interesting calculation of a "player index" which divides the players "playing time percentage" over the course of the season, by their adjusted compensation for that season, then determining that player's percentage of the team's total "Index." Then the team's total Performance Based Pay pool ($3.46M for 2013) is allocated to each player based on that percentage.
This compensation doesn't count against the team's salary cap figure, but does reward players who are paid a relatively low salary figure while making a significant impact on game day.
In terms of the Cowboys, the largest performance based paycheck to be distributed on April 1, 2016, will go to former UDFA, and first year starter at left guard, Ron Leary. His play time percentage of 71.32% combined with his low salary of $410,006 resulted in $307,143 of performance base pay, the third highest number in the NFL. The NFLPA deferred these payments to players until 2016.
Below you will find a table featuring each of the Cowboys who received more than $100K in extra pay, headlined by Ron Leary and Jeff Heath, two former UDFA's who played a ton of snaps for a very low salary, the two main factors which help boost a players PBP. In fact, Heath came up just $2,727 short of being just the 12th player in all of the NFL to receive over $250K.
|Player||Performance Based Pay|
All in all, the Cowboys paid 39 players at least some share of their pool, ranging from Leary's $307K all the way down to Anthony Spencer, who received a team low $369.97 in return for his 30 some odd snaps. You can find the full list of players for all NFL teams here.