Missing out on Pro Bowl cost Vikings center John Sullivan a cool $500K
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan had plenty of reason to be upset about missing out on a Pro Bowl bid that went to Jeff Saturday, who was demoted by Green Bay a couple weeks ago.
Here's another reason: the vote, unveiled by the NFL on Wednesday night, cost Sullivan a half-million dollars.
According to a source with access to NFL salary data, Sullivan has a $500,000 Pro Bowl escalator tied to each of the four remaining seasons on his contract that only is triggered if he is voted into the game.
So, even though Sullivan is the first alternate and thus would play if Saturday or Seattle's Max Unger drops out, he won't collect no matter what on what amounts to the biggest performance-based incentive in his contract.
Sullivan declined comment in the locker room on Thursday, saying he'd prefer to address the situation at another time.
"I appreciate the people that voted for me," he said. "But as of right now, I'm just focused on (Sunday's regular-season finale against) Green Bay."
Four Vikings -- halfback Adrian Peterson, fullback Jerome Felton, end Jared Allen and place-kicker Blair Walsh -- were selected to the Pro Bowl, with Sullivan, left tackle Matt Kalil and linebacker Chad Greenway known to be alternates.
Of the four who made the game, only Allen has money tied directly to the selection, with $200,000 in "not likely to be earned" Pro Bowl and playoff incentives in his deal.
Sullivan signed the five-year, $25.1 million extension last December, and the Pro Bowl clause isn't entirely unique.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield, who was selected three consecutive times from 2008 to '10, could have triggered a $250,000 Pro Bowl escalator in the final year of his deal.
Saturday will collect a $100,000 "not likely to be earned" incentive even if he drops out of the game, which would be the sixth of his 14-year career.
Selections are determined by voting by fans, coaches and players, each counting for one-third of the final tally. Saturday, 37, led not only NFC centers, but all NFL offensive linemen with 312,013 votes.
The Vikings filled out their Pro Bowl ballots on Dec. 19, the same day the Packers made the switch to Evan Dietrich-Smith at center.
Several players ridiculed the process on Thursday, which requires offensive players vote for defensive players and vice versa, with no votes for teammates allowed. One player said he declined to vote in most categories out of principle because he'd only be guessing.
Sullivan, 27, will have more chances at the honor -- and, in turn, the escalator to his following year's salary -- and should be OK financially.
His base salary is schedule to increase each of the next three seasons, from $3 million this season to $3.15 million in 2013, $3.65 million in 2014, $4.65 million in 2015 and '16, with $100,000 reporting bonuses due each year as well.