Mark Ingram could run his way into some extra money over the next four weeks.
The Saints running back has incentives in his contract that could pay him up to $400,000 depending on how many yards he rushes for this season.
Considering that he has 758 rushing yards, and the top threshold is set at 1,250 yards, he’d have to get extremely hot the next four games to get the big payout. But some of the other marks are within reach.
If Ingram picks up 1,000 yards, he’ll earn a bonus of $100,000. It goes up another $100,000 at 1,100 yards and again at 1,200 yards. Ingram would need to average 60.5 yards per game to get to 1,000 yards, which is a very achievable mark.
The running back has been on quite a run since being benched against the Seattle Seahawks for fumbling. He currently leads the NFL with 5.3 yards per carry. If can ride that into a Pro Bowl selection, it could benefit Ingram in other ways since the final year of his contract will void if he makes the Pro Bowl each of the next two seasons.
Here’s a look at some other players who are chasing bonuses and what they need to do to achieve them, according to multiple league sources.
Safety Jairus Byrd
Jairus Byrd probably has an interesting provision in his contract, in that he could see a $500,000 reduction in salary in 2017, 2018 and 2019 if he does is not earn a first-team All-NFL selection this season. The clause was tied to the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Since Byrd did not make All-NFL or the Pro Bowl, it appears he needs a first-team selection this year to avoid the deduction.
One Pro Bowl and one All-NFL selection between 2015 and 2016 would result in a reduction of $400,000 in 2017 and reductions of $300,000 in 2018 and 2019.
Byrd currently has 60 tackles, his most as a Saint, but he has not forced a turnover this season.
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley
Fairley is chasing two sets of bonuses and is in good shape to cash in on both of them.
He can earn bonuses of $250,00 for playing 45, 55 and 65 percent of the defensive snaps, for a total of $750,000. Fairley has played 68.7 percent of the snaps this season.
The defensive tackle can also earn $250,000 when he hits 4, 5½ and 7 sacks this season. He already earned the first bonus by racking up 4½ sacks this season.
Running back Tim Hightower
Hightower already earned $150,000 in bonuses for reaching 400 rushing yards and could earn another $75,000 if he hits 500. He currently has 422 yards rushing.
The running back can earn $65,000 if he scores five touchdowns. He needs three more to hit the mark.
Tight end Josh Hill
Hill had some lofty incentives written into his contract. He could have earned $250,000 by catching 50 passes, another $250,000 for hitting 600 yards receiving, and another $100,000 for making the Pro Bowl.
Considering he recently broke his fibula, it’s doubtful any of those marks will be achieved.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe
Ellerbe could have made a serious amount of money this year if he hadn’t missed seven games because of injury. He has a clause in his contract that will pay him $100,000 for playing 50 percent of the defensive snaps, another $200,000 at 60 and 70 percent, $300,000 at 75 percent, $350,000 at 80 percent, $650,000 at 85 percent and $700,000 at 90 percent.
Added together, he could have earned an extra $2.5 million this season. Currently, he’s at 30.1 percent of the defensive snaps. Ellerbe’s contract will void and he becomes a free agent if he plays 80 percent of the snaps, which won't happen.
He can make $100,000 by being selected to the Pro Bowl.
Guard Jahri Evans
Evans can earn $250,000 for playing 70 and 75 percent of the offensive snaps, for a total of $500,000. He’s played 94.4 percent of the snaps, making this one very likely.
Defensive end Cam Jordan
The defensive end can earn $250,000 for recording 13 sacks, another $500,000 at 15 sacks, and another $500,000 for finishing with 17 sacks. Jordan currently has five sacks.
Offensive lineman Senio Kelemete
The backup offensive lineman can earn $200,000 for playing 50, 60 and 70 percent of the snaps, for a total of $600,000. Thanks to injuries across the line, Kelemete has played 54.1 percent of the offensive snaps. His ability to earn these bonuses will depend on the health of the line moving forward.
Defensive end Paul Kruger
Kruger, who has played 54.8 percent of the snaps, is in position to earn $500,000 for playing half the defensive snaps. He can earn another $500,000 for playing 60 percent of the snaps.
The defensive end has various bonuses tied to sack totals, ranging from 10-18, which could pay him up to $1.5 million. But considering he has 1½ sacks, it’s unlikely he will meet the barrier.
He can also earn another $500,000 by making the Pro Bowl and reaching 10 sacks.
Linebacker Craig Robertson
The Saints probably didn’t expect for Robertson to be this big of a piece of the defense, but they should be happy to pay for it.
The linebacker can earn up to $1.5 million for playing 80 percent of the snaps. Considering he’s over 98 percent, it seems likely he’ll earn this one.
Offensive tackle Zach Strief
Strief's bonuses are interesting. He can earn $225,000 for playing 70 percent of the snaps in three games, six games, nine games and 12 games, for a total of $900,000. Strief has already done that in 11 of 12 games, putting him one shy of reaching the highest mark.
But he won’t be paid unless the Saints average more net yards gained per rushing play than last season or win eight games. New Orleans is currently averaging 4.3 yards per carry after finishing at 3.8 last season.
Strief can also earn $100,000 for making the Pro Bowl or being named first-team All-NFL.
Linebacker Nate Stupar
Stupar can earn $100,000 for playing 50, 60 and 70 percent of the defensive snaps, for a total of $300,000. He’s played 38.4 percent of the snaps.