Bob Quinn has brought a new way of doing things to the Detroit Lions and it has more to do than the types of players you might see on the field this fall.
He and Matt Harriss are also handling contracts differently than their predecessors, Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand. In almost every contract Quinn and Harriss have handled thus far, the Lions have attached incentive-based bonuses into the deals, particularly for small to mid-level contracts.
By doing this, the Lions are putting more onus on the player to produce. Instead of offering more money or more in a guarantee, the Lions are essentially saying this: You play well, you’ll earn your pay.
The Lions can’t do this with every contract, especially when they are in competitive situations with other teams. It’s why you don’t see any incentive-based pay in Marvin Jones' deal, for instance. But for other players where the market may not be as high, that level of incentive pay is showing up with more frequency.
It goes, in some ways, to Quinn saying over and over again that he has certain values placed on players. This allows them to exceed their initial contract if they happen to outplay potential expectations.
“We want these guys to earn their contracts,” Quinn told reporters at the NFL owners meetings last week.
Tight end Tim Wright's one-year deal has bonuses attached to being on the 46-man roster on game day and incentives tied into his playing time and his receptions.
Offensive tackle Lamar Holmes' one-year deal has a $25,000 bonus if he makes the 53-man roster and sticks for the first game of the season.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata's two-year deal has roster bonuses tied into how many games he is on the 46-man roster over the length of the contract. Defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker's contract has similar bonuses attached to if he’s active on game days.
Linebacker Tahir Whitehead has bonuses tied into playing time and Pro Bowls in both years of his deal as well as another bonus tied into 2017 based on how many games he is on the active roster.
Defensive back/special teams ace Johnson Bademosi has more than $1 million in incentives tied into his contract based on undisclosed targets to hit. Safety Rafael Bush has $900,000 in incentives attached to his contract as well as bonuses for every game he’s on the active roster.
Safety Tavon Wilson also has incentives tied into his contract based on playing time.
This encompasses almost every deal Quinn has made since taking over as general manager. The deals without incentive-based pay on them are Jones’ contract and minimum deals for quarterback Dan Orlovsky, long snapper Don Muhlbach and cornerback Crezdon Butler.
Expect this to continue for the Lions in the future, because the precedent has been set.