The Pittsburgh Steelers were one step away from Super Bowl 51 this past season, and their team was filled with players who certainly outplayed their current contracts. Because of this, the NFL gives out veteran performance-based compensation, and two Steelers found themselves in the Top 15 on the list.
Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was 8th on the list getting an extra $83,976.05, and cornerback Ross Cockrell was 12th earning an extra $81,720.88.
See the full list of the Top 25 bonuses below:
Top 25 bonuses in Veteran Performance-Based Compensation for 2016 season: pic.twitter.com/05hesquN0c— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) March 16, 2017
Both of these players were extremely valuable to the team’s success, especially Villanueva. The man they call ‘Big Al’ played in 100-percent of offensive snaps in 2016, and did a tremendous job protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side in the process. At a time when the team lost Kelvin Beachum to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, it seemed as if they were rolling the dice with Villanueva; however, he did more than prove them right by performing his duties to the highest level.
A similar story could be told about Cockrell’s 2016 season. Although he didn’t have the takeaway numbers he had in 2015, Cockrell’s first full season, from offseason workouts and training camp to the regular season, in the Steel City showed him stepping up in a big way against team’s top receiving options. Cockrell is a very valuable member of the defense, and his intelligence is noteworthy. He might not have the skills to take away one half of the football field, but his solid and steady play opposite Artie Burns was very valuable in 2016.
Both players are deserving of these bonuses, and it just so happens both are Restricted Free Agents this offseason. The Steelers have placed a tender on Cockrell, and reports are they want to sign Villanueva to a new contract before the start of the season.
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