Week 18 is an exciting time in the gridiron season. Some NFL squads are clawing for a playoff berth, while other eliminated teams get a chance to play spoiler.
It’s not just the teams themselves that have plenty on the line. The last week of the regular season offers players one final chance to hit the incentive bonuses in their contracts. Every reception, completion or sack could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (even millions) to the right player.
There’s a betting connection, too, as, in theory, a player on the verge of an incentive bonus might just be more desperate to hit their mark. While we’re monitoring player incentives, now is also a good time to check out NFL MVP odds, as well as Week 18 survivor pool picks and our NFL line movement page.
Heading into the last set of games, here are the NFL player incentives we’re watching closely.
NFL Week 18 Player Incentives: The Easy Ones
Here are a few bonuses that are very, very likely to hit.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
JuJu has this one locked up. A little two-yard reception and he’s $1.5 million richer, which marks one hell of a way to close out the season.
Between injuries and poor play, Smith-Schuster wasn’t the same guy these last few years, so the Chiefs inked him to a one-year, incentive-laden deal last offseason. The 26-year-old had $4.5 million tied up in incentives, and he’s already collected most of them. He’ll rake in some cash by passing 900 yards Sunday, but that will also unlock his playoff bonuses.
JuJu needs at least 65 catches and 900 yards for a chance to earn an additional $2 million in snap count bonuses if his team plays in the AFC championship game and Super Bowl.
Christian Kirk, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
After signing a cushy four-year, $72-million deal with Jacksonville, Kirk has settled in nicely. The wideout has been one of Trevor Lawrence’s favorite targets and can earn a mean half-mill with two catches Saturday. That incentive seems automatic.
Kirk’s receiving yards incentive is tougher but still doable. If the 26-year-old racks up 91 yards, he’s golden, and he can earn another $500,000 if he snags 12 or more catches.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions
The “Sledgehammer” in Detroit’s backfield has always played second fiddle to other rushers in his career. He’s made the most of his opportunities with the Lions this season, and he’ll earn $250,000 with six rushing yards Sunday vs Green Bay. If he hits the mark, Williams will also become Detroit’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013.
NFL Week 18 Player Incentives: The Challenges
These incentives are a little trickier to achieve.
Kalif Raymond, WR/Special Teams, Detroit Lions
For a special-teamer like Raymond, these incentives mean a lot more. The 28-year-old earned just $1.95 million in base salary this year but can add as much as $650,000 if all goes well. He needs seven catches for 50 yards and 34 punt return yards.
How doable is it? Well, Raymond hasn’t had more than five catches in a game this year, so the reception bonus might be a no-go. The other two are within reach, as the wideout has hit the 50-yard mark in four games this year and recorded over 34 punt return yards in three contests.
Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
We love a gritty tight end earning his coin, and Everett can do it with five catches Sunday. The 28-year-old has seven games this year with five or more catches, but that’s only happened twice in his last six games. The return of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams has crowded the Chargers offense, leaving Everett on the fringes of an important incentive.
NFL Week 18 Player Incentives: The Impossible Ones
Let’s have a laugh at those who fell short.
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Samuel hasn’t rushed for more than 53 yards in a game this year, so this incentive won’t happen. As explosive as Deebo is, he just hasn’t found his rhythm. Injuries have played a part, but he’s averaging just 51 receiving yards per game (a career low) and his 228 rushing yards are nowhere near the 365-yard mark from last season.
Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants
We haven’t been able to confirm this incentive, though it obviously doesn’t matter. This laughable benchmark only further illustrates how disastrous Golladay’s tenure with the Giants has been.
Kenny Golladay needs just 76 catches this week to get a $750,000 bonus pic.twitter.com/UIoJzpweyu— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 5, 2023
Since signing a four-year, $72-million deal with New York, the wideout has recorded 41 catches and 572 yards in two seasons. 2022 has been calamitous, as Golladay has just four catches for 51 yards. With a cap hit of $21.15 million, that averages to around $5.3 million per catch. Go off, Kenny! Sorry Giants fans, this one sucks.