Rookie cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, a seventh-round pick who was an integral part of the Panthers' defensive and special teams last season, was the team's top earner in the NFL's 2009 performance-based pay program.
Munnerlyn earned an additional $209,631, according to an official league document.
The league's performance-based pay system sets up a fund on each team to reward players based on how their playing time compares with their contractual financial compensation. The system won't exist this season because the NFL collective bargaining agreement has moved into an uncapped year during negotiations toward a new CBA.
Munnerlyn turned pro after his junior season at South Carolina, but slipped to the seventh-round and didn't come away with the lucrative contract he'd hoped. His rookie base salary was $310,000, far better than most people but way down the pay scale in the NFL.
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"My teammates told me to keep playing football and I'd make up for some of what I lost" by getting drafted late, Munnerlyn said Friday night.
Munnerlyn served as the Panthers' punt returner, played elsewhere on special teams and was the nickel defensive back. He wound up being credited with playing in 40% of the Panthers' plays, according to the official league document.
As a result, Munnerlyn led all Panthers' players in performance-based pay and was the only player on the team who earned more than $200,000 in the overall Carolina pool of more than $3.4 million.
Munnerlyn said his agent called him earlier Friday to inform him of his take -- $209,631.
"When my agent called me and told me, I was like, `Oh man, that's a blessing!," said Munnerlyn. "I thanked God for it.
"It's not every day you get that call.
"It's a nice thing the NFL came up with that kind of plan for a guy like me that went late in the draft to help him catch up to what the second- and third-round picks got, or the fourth- and fifth-round picks."
-- Charles Chandler, The Charlotte Observer