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Offseason | 2024

DaRon Bland gets sizable payout for 2023 campaign


FRISCO, Texas — DaRon Bland is getting a pleasant surprise this spring from the NFL, thanks largely to his outstanding performance on the field for the Dallas Cowboys in 2023. The 24-year-old finds himself rewarded under the league's Performance-Based Pay distribution model this offseason — a sum he'll surely enjoy.

Bland, who set an NFL record for most pick-sixes in a single season, led the league in interceptions and logged a career-best 15 starts in his second year as a pro, has earned an additional $759,756 in salary for his efforts.

That puts him in the top-20 of performance-based earnings.

The 24-year-old is the latest remarkable defensive back talent to be groomed in Dallas but, unlike Trevon Diggs before him, Bland is a former fifth-round pick out of Fresno State, and that makes his ascension (and a rapid one) to the upper echelon of cornerbacks that much more jaw-dropping.

To date, he's already delivered 14 career interceptions, five defensive touchdowns (all pick-sixes), 22 pass break ups and 124 combined tackles in only 23 career starts — numbers good enough to help him land honors as both a Pro Bowler and First-Team All-Pro.

As for the system that is sending nearly $800,000 to Bland this April, it's one established by the NFL and NFLPA as a part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement as a fund that is used to supplement player compensation based upon a comparison of playing time versus their actual salary.

Those who garner the most playing time but who also have a lower salary are precisely who the fund is designed to benefit, as Bland can now readily attest.

As an undrafted free agent signed in 2022, the former Bulldog earned a base salary of $870,000 in 2023 along with a very modest signing bonus of a little over $76,000. For perspective, Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, a former fourth-overall pick of the New York Jets in 2022, earned a robust signing bonus of $5.4 million in 2023 — the rookie pay scale capping his base salary at $870,000 as well.

In other words, Bland earned over $5.3 million less, but produced nine more interceptions, five more pick-sixes, four more pass break ups and 13 more combined tackles than did Gardner, despite the latter having one more start last season (16).

It goes without saying that Bland earned his performance payout, and he and the Cowboys would absolutely love to see him duplicate his efforts in 2024.

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