IRVING, Texas – Cowboys guard Ronald Leary ranked third in the league in performance-based pay for 2013, the NFL announced Monday in its annual report.
The purpose of the program is to compensate players whose playing time surpasses their contract for the league year. Leary earned an additional $307, 104.43, making him one of 11 players in the league to make at least $250,000 in additional compensation, due April 1. Compensation does not count against the NFL's salary cap of $133 million, as each team is allotted roughly $3.5 million to compensate players through an agreement with the NFL Players Association.
Leary started all 16 games at left guard last season, after he signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He spent the majority of his rookie year on the practice squad before taking over for Nate Livings in training camp last summer.
Upon taking over the starting role, Leary played 71.3 percent of the team's offensive snaps last year.
Before accounting for his performance-based pay, Leary's initial salary for the 2013 season was $405,000. He's slated to make $495,000 in 2014 – the final year of his initial contract before he becomes a restricted free agent in 2015. [embedded_ad]
Several other Cowboys players benefitted from the performance-based pay program, largely thanks to the rash of injuries that forced unheralded players into the starting lineup. Safety Jeff Heath, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Saginaw Valley State, rose up the depth chart to start eight games and roughly 57 percent of the team's defensive snaps.
Heath's compensation for 2013 is $247,273.09. Defensive tackle Nick Hayden, who was also an afterthought on the training camp roster before starting all 16 games, made an additional $156,788.33.
Nine Cowboys players in all earned more than $100,000 in extra compensation – including 16-game rookie starter Travis Frederick and fellow rookie starters Terrance Williams and J.J. Wilcox.
George Selvie, who is now the Cowboys' returning sack leader from 2013, also earned an additional $141,704.71 after earning a starting spot as a late addition to the training camp roster.
All told, the Cowboys made payments to 39 players for their work during the 2013 season.