In his second year with the Vikings, right tackle Brian O’Neill established himself as a fixture of the team’s offensive line for years to come. He also earned himself a substantial raise through the NFL’s performance-based pay program.
O’Neill, who played all but eight snaps in the 15 regular-season games where the Vikings used their starters, earned a combined $441,753.31 from the program, collecting $254,399.43 from a pool of money available to both rookies and veterans and another $187,353.88 from a pool available only to veterans. The league’s program is designed to reward players whose importance to their team — as a function of their playing time — outstrips the value of their contract. O’Neill, who was playing in the second year of his rookie deal, had a base salary of $680,302 in 2019.
The tackle got the second-most money from the pool available to rookies and veterans, coming in behind wide receiver Bisi Johnson (who got $288,197.61 after playing nearly 42 percent of the team’s offensive snaps). O’Neill was also the Vikings’ second-highest earner in the pool available to both rookies and veterans, coming in behind guard Pat Elflein, who received $190,797.44.
In the pool available to both rookies and veterans, linebacker Eric Wilson ($236,131.62), Elflein ($232,388.08) and fullback C.J. Ham ($222,000.38) rounded out the Vikings’ top five.
Wilson ($148,566.51), Ham ($139,425.36) and defensive end Stephen Weatherly ($129,289.94) joined Elflein and O’Neill as the Vikings’ top earners from the veterans-only pool.
Each team in the NFL was allocated $4.623 million for its rookies and veterans, and another $2.6 million to divide among its veterans, with all amounts determined by an index based on salary cap figures and playing time.
The program is designed to reward even the league’s highest-paid players with a little extra walking-around money for their effort during the season. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who played on a base salary of $27.5 million last season, got an extra $16,270.09 from the two pools ($8,259.57 from the rookies-and-veterans pool and $8,010.52 from the veterans only pool).