Luke Fortner among NFL's Top 10 in Performance-Based Pay

On3 imageby:Tyler Thompson04/01/24


Luke Fortner may not be the immediate name that comes to mind when you think about Kentucky Football’s top players in the NFL, but according to one metric, he is the most valuable.

Fortner, who graduated from Kentucky in 2022, is No. 6 on the NFL’s list of top earners in performance-based pay, which compensates players based on their playing time and salary levels. After playing 100% of Jacksonville’s offensive snaps during the 2023 season, Fortner will receive $872,196 from the league, which is just under his 2023 base salary of $905,003. The program was designed to give additional money to players who perform beyond their contracts. Fortner is one of seven offensive linemen in the top ten. Baltimore guard John Simpson leads the way with $974,613 of supplemental money.

Last season, Fortner was third on the list, earning $819,686 in performance-based pay after starting and playing all 17 regular-season games in his rookie season. If you’re doing the math at home, that means Fortner hasn’t missed a single game or offensive snap since being selected by the Jaguars in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

All of that said, Fortner will have competition in his third season. The Jags signed former Buffalo Bills center Mitch Morse in free agency, a 32-year-old with 126 starts under his belt, to compete with Fortner, who struggled at times in 2023. Jacksonville head coach Doug Pederson coached Morse when he was the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I was in Kansas City when we drafted him, so obviously liked him and now that he became available, Pederson said of signing Morse at the NFL owners’ meeting last week. “Listen, this is not a knock on Luke at all. It’s just a matter of getting better at a position, getting better as a group and I think Mitch brings a veteran presence. He’s done it for several years now.”

“It’s really somebody that Luke can invest some time learning from and understanding. Mitch’s strengths can be Luke’s weaknesses and vice versa. Luke’s strengths, Mitch, his weaknesses and they can really work together and have that competition that you want. So having a guy like Mitch, a veteran backup, come in, much like when we signed Brandon a couple of years ago helps us better as an offense.”

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