Patriots linebacker Donta Hightower was ousted for the regular season finale after being listed as suspicious for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, the team announced Saturday.
Hightower’s absence would not only be costly for the Patriots, it would also be costly for Hightower’s wallet.
Because Hightower opted out of the 2020 season, his contract structure for that year – which is the final year of his four-year deal, was moved to 2021. His contract for this season, with a base salary of $7.85 million, could earn Hightower up to $2 million in bonuses.
Half of the bonus HighTower can earn is tied to the number of snaps it plays. If Hightower plays 65 percent of the Patriots’ defensive scenes this season, he’ll earn a $375,000 bonus, According to CBS Sports’ Joel Corey, If he plays 70 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps, he will earn a bonus of $625,000. If he plays 75 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps, he will earn a bonus of $875,000. And if he plays 80 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps, he’ll earn a $1 million bonus.
But Hightower will likely bid goodbye to any hope of getting those bonuses by missing out on Sunday’s game. During the first 17 weeks of the season, the Hightowers played 62.71 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps. Per ProFootballReference, Since he has no way to increase his Snap total, Hightower will fall short of the number needed to receive the $375,000 bonus.
Hightower appeared on track to reach at least the 65 percent threshold for most of the season. But he fell below that mark when he played just 14 snaps against the Jaguars in week 17, his lowest snap of the season so far.
The other might get $1 million in Hightower bonuses, don’t look like that will happen, either. The Hightowers would receive $500,000 if they were named to the Pro Bowl and another $500,000 if they were named first-team All-Pro. The Hightowers were not named to the Pro Bowl roster in December and their 64-tack season would likely not find them on either of the All-Pro teams.
Kicker Nick Folk also has some bonus money on the line. According to Corey, he gets $250,000 if he’s in the top 10 on field goals and if he’s in the top seven on field goals. The Loks are tied for the league lead in field goals this season with 35 and six field goals ahead of two players tied for seventh. That’s seven field goals ahead of the three players placed ninth in field goals, so it appears Folk will receive $500,000 there.
Lok will receive another $250,000 if he attempts 90 percent or more of his field goal. He has scored 92.11 percent of his field goals this season, putting him in a good position to earn that bonus. However, if he has a tough day against the Dolphins, he may miss his chance to achieve it. If Folk had only one field goal attempt on Sunday and missed, his conversion rate would drop to 89.7 percent.
Folk could receive another $125,000 if he names one of the All-Pro teams.
Receiver Kendrick Bourne had already received his bonus money, but could earn more in Week 18. By catching five passes for 76 yards against the Jaguars in Week 17, Bourne received a $250,000 bonus and a $250,000 bonus for recording 50 receptions over the season (52). Bonus for reaching 700 receiving yards (776) this season.
If Bourne takes eight catches on Sunday, he will earn another $250,000 bonus in a 60-catch season. He can earn another $250,000 by recording 24 receiving yards, which will get him to the 800-yard mark, which is another bonus.
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