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Browns DL Billy Winn Earns Proven Performance Escalator

Only one player on the Browns earned a slight increase in their base salary for 2015.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, three members of the Cleveland Browns earned proven performance escalators. This past season, the only player to earn a proven performance escalator on the Browns was DL Billy Winn, which means he will see an increase in his base salary in 2015.

What is a proven performance escalator? It applies to players selected anywhere between rounds 3-7 of the NFL Draft who have met one of the following criteria:

  • played in 35% of the snaps in two of his first three seasons
  • posted of cumulative average of 35% of snaps in his first three seasons

Since the criteria waits three years, that means we have to look back at players from the 2012 NFL Draft. Only three players from that draft were eligible for the escalator: DL Billy Winn, DL John Hughes, and WR Travis Benjamin.

Billy Winn - 6th Round Pick in 2012
Year % Snaps Played Team Games
2014 43.08% 501 1163 13
2013 27.09% 311 1148 11
2012 60.43% 701 1160 16
Total 43.59% 1513 3471

Winn played a significant amount of snaps in his rookie season (60%), so he was in good shape to earn the escalator. Even with him only playing 27% of the snaps in 2013, his cumulative snap total heading into this year was around 43%. As long as he didn't suffer a season-ending injury right off the bat, he would have been fine. He played in 43% of the snaps this past season, earning him the escalator.

Winn's base salary in 2015 will increase from $660,000 to "somewhere between $1,503,000 and $1,574,000."

John Hughes - 3rd Round Pick in 2012
Year % Snaps Played Team Games
2014 17.88% 208 1163 5
2013 34.84% 400 1148 15
2012 44.22% 513 1160 16
Total 32.30% 1121 3471

Ouch -- this one hurts for Hughes, who came as close as one could imagine to the escalator without actually getting it. Hughes' 44% of playing time in 2012 counted as one season above 35%. In 2013, Hughes played 400/1148 snaps, which is 34.84% of the snaps. Had he played just two more snaps (402/1148), he would have cracked the 35% threshold and been guaranteed an escalator, regardless of what happened in 2014.

Still, as long as he didn't suffer an injury in 2014, Hughes was on track to earn the escalator. He only played five games this past year, though, as he was placed on the short-term IR list. Hughes' base salary will remain at $660,000 for 2015.

Travis Benjamin - 4th Round Pick in 2012
Year % Snaps Played Team Games
2014 36.48% 383 1050 16
2013 12.92% 143 1107 8
2012 28.81% 297 1031 14
Total 25.82% 823 3188

Special teams snaps do not get included into the escalator, which hurts a guy like Benjamin. He actually saw a career high in snaps in 2014 (36%), but neither of his two previous years counted toward the escalator. Benjamin's base salary for 2015 will remain at $660,000.

The Browns' other draft picks from the 2012 draft, ILB James-Michael Johnson, OG Ryan Miller, LB Emmanuel Acho, CB Trevin Wade, and FB Brad Smelley, are no longer with the team.

Looking forward to next year, the only player who would have a shot at the escalator is DL Armonty Bryant. The team's other potential picks, CB Leon McFadden, S Jamoris Slaughter, and OG Garrett Gilkey, are no longer with the team. There is virtually no chance that even Bryant would earn the escalator; he has barely played in his first two seasons, meaning he'd have to play 78% of the season snaps in 2015 to have a cumulative snap count above 35% over three seasons.