A handful of Chicago Bears players received a surprise bonus thanks to their performances in 2016:
#Bears had 13 players earn $100K or more in performance-based pay, which supplements players with high playing time & lower pay.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 15, 2017
Among the players who received this bonus was Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard, who received an additional $169,845 for a season in which he finished second in the NFL in rushing yards and had a higher per carry average than all-world rookie Ezekiel Elliott. Fellow rookie standout Cody Whitehair received $174,298 as he stepped in and played center at an elite level despite never playing the position at college.
Howard wasn’t the only skill position player to receive such a bonus. That distinction went to wide receiver Cameron Meredith, whose breakout year in a season that lacked production from the wide receiver position netted him $174,978. Meredith caught 66 passes for 888 yards and four touchdowns in his second season. The undrafted free agent out of Illinois State was also recognized as one of football’s best route runners.
However, the biggest bonus was handed out to starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr., who received $228,015. He was followed by safety Adrian Amos ($226,366), cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc ($204,841), and safety Harold Jones-Quartey ($199,936).
In total, the Bears awarded six defensive players (four defensive backs, two linebackers) and seven offensive contributors (two receivers, two tight ends, two offensive linemen, one running back) with additional pay. All things considered, this feels fitting because of how many contributions were made by the Bears’ young players.