The Kansas City Chiefs are unlikely to throw big money around when free agency (tentatively) opens on March 18. Before many other teams do begin their spending sprees, however, the NFL allocated some additional player compensation of its own on Thursday when it released its 2019 Performance-Based Pay totals from last season. Across the league, players were awarded a total of $147.9 million, bringing the cumulative total since the program’s inception in 2002 up to approximately $1.8 billion.
Only one Chiefs player, second-year CB Charvarius Ward, cracked the top-25 list, but made the most of it receiving the league’s highest performance-based distribution ($428,335) and total distribution ($654,750) as a result of his 2019 on-field play.
Per the NFL’s official press release, Ward’s raise was approximately 15 percent higher than his league minimum salary last season – primarily the result of a major boost in playing time.
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback CHARVARIUS WARD earned the highest combined distribution of all NFL players in the 2019 Performance-Based Pay program. He earned a total of $654,750, nearly 15 percent more than his 2019 salary, comprised of the following amounts: $428,335 from the Performance-Based Pay Pool, and an additional $226,415 from the Veteran Pool. Ward, a 2018 undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State, started all 16 games for the Chiefs during the 2019 regular season, playing in nearly 95 percent of the Chiefs’ defensive plays, as well as nearly 26 percent of the Chiefs’ special teams plays. He earned the league minimum salary for a player with one credited season (i.e., $570,000). Ward signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Cowboys in May of 2018 before being traded to the Chiefs in August 2018. During Kansas City’s Super Bowl-winning season in 2019, Ward finished second on the team with a career-high 10 passes defensed and registered his first two career interceptions.
The 23-year-old cornerback also took note of the announcement on Twitter, jokingly posting about his “good mood.”
The Middle Tennessee State product originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, but was traded to Kansas City prior to the start of his first regular season. In return for his services, the Chiefs sent 2016 fourth-round pick (No. 105 overall) G Parker Ehinger to the Cowboys, who subsequently released the now-27-year-old last offseason.
During his first year with the Chiefs, Ward saw action on defense and special teams in 13 regular season games, including a pair of starts in the final two, plus the team’s AFC Divisional Round win over the Indianapolis Colts. In 2019, Ward’s role expanded in a big way, starting all 16 games and racking up 74 total tackles, 10 pass deflections, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He was also in the starting lineup for all three comeback playoff victories – including Super Bowl LIV – and played nearly 100 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and about a quarter of the special teams snaps.
Ward is under contract in Kansas City through the conclusion of the 2020 season before becoming a restricted free agent.
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