Lions give Louis Delmas incentive to play

PHOENIX -- As free agency approached, the Detroit Lions had some obvious concerns about the health of safety Louis Delmas. A core player when uninjured, Delmas has missed 13 games over the past two years and seemed to be gutting through a painful knee condition at the end of last season.

It's worth noting that those concerns were reflected in the two-year contract Delmas agreed to last week. The bottom line is that he'll need to play more frequently than he did last season to earn anything more than $1.715 million from the deal.

Technically, the contract is worth a max of $9.465 million over the two years, but the unusual structure includes $1.75 million in playing-time incentives and $6 million in 2014 compensation.

Here are the details:

Delmas received a $1 million signing bonus and a base salary of $715,000 for 2013. The incentives begin kicking in if he participates in at least 42 percent of the Lions' defensive plays. Specifically, he would receive $109,375 for every game that he is on the 46-man roster for, which could bring him up to an additional $1.75 million if he appears in all 16 regular-season games.

In 2012, according to the way the NFL accounts for playing time, Delmas participated in 41.97 percent of the Lions' defensive snaps. That explains the seemingly random 42-percent threshold in the new contract.

The Lions would then have a decision to make next offseason, when Delmas would be due a $500,000 roster bonus and a $5.5 million base salary in 2014.

But first things first. Delmas can earn more money if he beats his play-time total from last season. If not, the Lions are on the hook for only $1.175 million and a modest $500,000 salary cap hit if they cut him after the season.