As evidence of how his play has exceeded original expectations since entering the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice, Panthers' strong safety Chris Harris ranks fourth in cumulative earnings in the league's eight-year-old performance-based pay program.
Harris has earned $819,788 over and above his contracted salary and bonuses in the performance-based pay program, which was started in 2002 to compensate players whose playing time exceeds the value of their regular pay based on comparisons to other players on their team.
The only players who've earned more extra pay than Harris are Atlanta safety Erik Coleman ($837,654), Baltimore safety Dawan Landry ($825,777) and San Diego tackle Jeromey Clary ($820,804).
Harris is the only current or former Panthers player who made the top 25 cumulative list that the NFL released Tuesday.
Chicago drafted Harris in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. He played for the Bears for three seasons before getting traded to Carolina in 2007. He's been a Panthers' starter since he arrived and has 64 starts in his five pro seasons.
The performance-based pay program began as part of a 2002 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) revision. However, it applies only to years when there's a salary cap, so players won't receive the extra pay next season because it's an uncapped year due to stalled negotiations for a new CBA extension.
- Charles Chandler, Charlotte Observer