When the Atlanta Falcons put a bonus in Adrian Clayborn’s contract, giving him $750,000 if he reached eight sacks in a season, they probably didn’t anticipate paying it out.
Clayborn had never had eight sacks in a season. Eight games into this season, the Falcons end had just two sacks. But then the Dallas Cowboys came to town.
Dallas used backup left tackle Chaz Green when All-Pro Tyron Smith was inactive due to injury, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett for some reason refused to give Green any help. And that’s how Smith’s injury cost the Falcons three-quarters of a million dollars (and perhaps even more money later).
Clayborn had six sacks against an overmatched Green. Only five players in NFL history have had at least six sacks in a game (Derrick Thomas is the only one to reach seven). According to NFL Network and ESPN, Clayborn triggered the $750,000 bonus by reaching eight sacks on the season. He can make $500,000 more by getting two more sacks to bring his season total to 10, and he can max out at a cool $2 million if he reaches 12 sacks.
The Falcons will happily pay the bonus after Clayborn’s huge game in an important win over the Cowboys, but they might want to sue Green for malpractice and see if they can recoup some of it from him.
Clayborn likely won’t come close to six sacks in a game again. He has been in the NFL seven seasons, and he got 21 percent of his career sack total (28.5) on Sunday afternoon. But two more sacks in seven games is reasonable. Four isn’t entirely out of the question. His accountant is rooting for him.
Even if Clayborn never has a day anywhere close to what he did Sunday, he’ll have a pile of money from the Falcons to help him remember his career game.
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