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Charvarius Ward led the NFL in 2019 performance-based pay

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The Chiefs cornerback made $654,750 in additional pay last season.

Chiefs beat Raiders 40-9 James Woolridge/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward made $654,750 in performance-based pay in 2019, topping all players across the NFL. ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted he received a total of “nearly 15 percent more than his 2019 salary.”

The Chiefs traded for Ward, 23, in exchange for offensive lineman Parker Ehinger back in August of 2018. Ward was then an undrafted rookie trying to make the Dallas Cowboys.

At the time, a writeup from DraftWire called him the “most underrated cornerback in the draft.” That may now have been proven true, with Ward leading the way for all players in performance-based pay.

“He’s a smart kid,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid explained of Ward, ahead of their first playoff game against the Houston Texans. “He is quiet, but he is a smart kid. For him, I thought it was just the more reps that he got, the more things that he saw. He’s a bigger kid, too, so he has to play it a little bit different way than the smaller, quick-twitch guys. He’s a little bit longer than that, like some of the corners in this league. They just have to play it a little different and be able to read and see things and react to that. I think that’s where he has gotten better.”

Ward’s role grew and grew as the 2019 season went on, and when it was all said and done, he recorded 1,048 defensive snaps, second only to Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu. Ward finished the 2019 season with 74 tackles (56 solo), 10 passes defensed, two interceptions and one forced fumble. The Chiefs have Ward signed through the 2020 season, and he will become a restricted free agent in 2021.

Performance-based pay comes from a league-wide fund that is used as a supplemental form of player compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary. Players with higher playing time in relation to their salaries tend to receive the highest amounts.

After the 2018 season, two Chiefs made the top 25 in performance-based pay. Cornerback Kendall Fuller ranked 12th, collecting $434,762. Safety Ron Ron Parker ranked 23rd with $403,941 in additional earnings.