Several members of the Saints have bonuses to chase over the final six weeks of the season, as well as the perfect finish that might help this team qualify for a playoff spot.
Various league sources have shed light on some of the bonuses members of the Saints can achieve this season by hitting playing time and performance thresholds or by earning league honors, such as Pro Bowl spots or All-Pro honors.
A handful of players are on the right track and just need to continue on their current trajectories to earn a bump in salary. Others have a long way to go to meet their goals.
Here’s a look at some players who are chasing bonuses:
Brandon Browner, cornerback
Signed this offseason, Browner can earn an extra $375,000 by playing 90 percent of the defensive snaps this season. He’s currently at 96.6 percent.
If Browner’s playing time dips over the next six weeks, he can still earn $250,000 by playing 85 percent of the snaps or $125,000 by reaching 80 percent.
He also can earn another $125,000 by making the Pro Bowl.
Jairus Byrd, safety
Byrd could end up on the path to losing some money this season if he fails to make the Pro Bowl or earn first-team All-NFL honors.
The safety has a provision in his contract that will drop his 2017, 2018 and 2019 salaries by $500,000 if he doesn’t make the Pro Bowl or earn first-team All- NFL honors in 2015 and 2016.
If he makes only one Pro Bowl or earns one first-team selection during 2015 or 2016, his salary will drop by $400,000 in 2017, $300,000 in 2018 and $300,000 in 2019.
Considering Byrd missed three games to start the season, he might have a hard time achieving either of those goals this season.
Marques Colston, receiver
The wide receiver can earn $500,000 by catching 70 passes this season.
Colston currently has 33 receptions, which means he’d have to average 6.16 catches over the next six games to meet the threshold. It’s not out of the question, but he’d have to step up from his current pace of 3.66 receptions per game to meet the goal.
The 32-year-old finished with 59 receptions last season, though he played through a hip ailment that was more serious than he let on, according to a source.
He finished with 70 or more receptions in each season from 2009-2013.
Jahri Evans, guard
The veteran guard can make an additional $100,000 by making it to the Pro Bowl this season.
Evans made the past six Pro Bowls. It’s not out of the question for him to make it onto the roster again, especially since he’s one of the more established guards in the NFL.
Dannell Ellerbe, linebacker
Ellerbe can also earn $100,000 by making the Pro Bowl.
Considering he’s played in only four games because of various injuries, it seems highly unlikely Ellerbe will qualify for this bonus.
He has, however, been a key piece to the New Orleans defense when healthy.
Ramon Humber, linebacker
The backup linebacker is battling an injury and is in danger of losing a good amount of money.
Humber can earn up to $965,000 by playing 75 percent of the defensive snaps, and he has various thresholds in which he could earn additional money based on playing time.
He will be paid $115,000 if he hits 50 percent of the snaps; $200,000 at 60 percent; $250,000 at 70 percent; and another $400,000 at 75 percent.
Humber has played only 17.9 percent of the snaps this season. His odds of hitting any of the thresholds are now extremely thin.
Mark Ingram, running back
Too bad Ingram didn’t have his bonuses set up for all-purpose yards.
The running back can earn $100,000 by rushing for 1,000 yards. If he hits 1,100 yards, that figure jumps to $200,000.
Ingram currently has 998 yards from scrimmage, including 661 on the ground. To get to 1,000, he’ll need to average 56.5 over the next six games. To get to 1,100, he’d need to average 73.2.
His season average is 66.1 yards per game.
Keenan Lewis, cornerback
The cornerback could make $400,000 if he earns first- or second-team All-NFL honors. Considering how much time he’s missed this season, it seems unlikely he’ll earn this bonus.
C.J. Spiller, running back
Signed as a free agent this offseason, Spiller has several ways he could earn additional money this season. It just seems unlikely he’ll meet many of his goals.
He could earn $100,000 for hitting 1,000 all-purpose yards and another $100,000 for each additional 100 yards, up to 1,500, for a total of $600,000.
The issue is that he currently has 318 yards from scrimmage, which, actually, puts him on pace for another bonus. If Spiller reaches 426 total yards, his 2018 salary will increase by $600,000 — though it’s probably unlikely he’ll reach the end of his deal, even if his usage ramps up considerably in the future.
Spiller could also earn $100,000 by making the Pro Bowl.
Zach Strief, offensive lineman
The right tackle could make $100,000 by being selected for the Pro Bowl.
Max Unger, center
Unger is on pace to earn an additional $200,000. He’s played 733 of 734 offensive snaps this season. He needs to stay above 85 percent to earn his bonus.
He also has $500,000 tied to making the Pro Bowl, and some other incentives based on playoff success.
Unger should earn the first bonus. Projecting Pro Bowl appearances for offensive linemen can be dicey since so much of the voting is tied to reputation. Unger has a good one, so he might have a shot.
Kevin Williams, defensive lineman
No one knew what to expect when the Saints signed the 35-year-old Williams this offseason. So the Saints wisely tied a good amount of his salary to playing time.
Williams is now on pace to cash in.
The defensive tackle can earn an extra $600,000 in salary by playing 44.75 percent of the defensive snaps this season. He’s currently at 48.4 percent.
If Williams dips a little, he can still earn some extra money. His bonus is set to pay him $150,000 if he finishes at 10 percent of the defensive snaps; $300,000 at 20 percent; $400,000 at 30 percent; $500,000 at 40 percent; and the full figure at 44.75 percent.