This is the time of year when final season statistics are officially finalized by the NFL and players earn raises that are included in their contract. These raises are referred to as escalators and , if earned, increase the value of a players’ contract. One set of escalators is for veteran players while another set is known as the “Proven Performance Escalator”. The PPE is available to all offensive and defensive players selected between round 3 and 7 of the draft during the 4th year of their contract. If earned this raises the salary of the player to that of the lowest Restricted Free Agent Tender. To earn that escalator a player must play in at least 35% of the snaps in two of his first three seasons or 35% of the total snaps over the three year period. The PPE is never guaranteed and most escalators are not guaranteed.
I’ll update this as new details come in but as of January 17th, 65 players earned some type of escalator in 2014. Of those 65, 35 were players who earned the PPE. In total $51,851,222 has been added to salary figures throughout the NFL. The largest escalator was earned by Texans WR Andre Johnson who raised his salary by $3.5 million bringing his salary cap number to a gigantic $15.64 million. The Bills’ Jerry Hughes comes in second with a $2.9 million escalator for his big season while Gerald McCoy earned $2,437,253 of an escalator contained in his rookie contract.
A total of 10 players added more than $1 million in salary to their 2014 contracts. Carson Palmer is the only one I know whose escalator is fully guaranteed. D’qwell Jackson, Jerraud Powers, and Kyle Williams all added salary to multiple years of their contract. The smallest escalator on record so far is the $100,000 rookie escalator earned by Tyson Alualu. The Patriots Isaac Sopoaga is the only player thus far to have his salary de-escalate. He lost $250,000 due to lack of playing time.
The Bills added the most to their salary cap with increases of $7,088,000 among 6 players. The cap strapped and rebuilding Texans added $5,669,000 to their 2014 salary cap. The Browns, Cardinals, and Buccaneers were the other three teams adding more than $3 million to their team cap. The Saints, Patriots, Panthers, and Ravens are the only teams to not have anyone accrue a salary escalator.
24 teams had a player earn a PPE. The 8 that seem to have failed to produce a low drafted rookie that has been a long term contributor are the Packers, Lions. Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Patriots, Ravens, and Broncos. The Browns produced the most with three players, and 8 teams had two players. The following tables show the current escalators earned and team cap increases due to those escalators.
NFL Escalators As of Jan. 17
NFL Team Escalator Totals
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.