First, let's explain what we mean by "proven performance escalator (PPE)." 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 a 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 2015 NFL Draft. The players on the Cleveland Browns who would have been eligible for the escalator are: RB Duke Johnson, DL Xavier Cooper, S Ibraheim Campbell, WR Vince Mayle, CB Charles Gaines, FB Malcolm Johnson, TE Randall Telfer, ILB Hayes Pullard, and CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The only players who are still on the team are Johnson and Telfer.
Duke Johnson - 3rd Round Pick in 2015
Regardless of what Johnson did in 2017, we knew he would earn the PPE because he played in 35% or more of the snaps in 2015 and 2016. Telfer didn’t play as a rookie (injury), and only played in about 25% of the snaps over the past two seasons.
Johnson’s base salary for 2017 was originally set to be $742,500. The NFLPA database now lists his 2017 base salary as $1,895,000, an increase of $1.15 million. Over The Cap agrees with our assessment for this year's PPEs.
Looking Into the Future
Looking forward to next year, an astounding six players are on pace to reach the PPE: DL Carl Nassib, RT Shon Coleman, MLB Joe Schobert, WR Ricardo Louis, S Derrick Kindred, and OT Spencer Drango. If the Browns don’t cut any of them before the end of their rookie contract, then I can categorize the players as the following:
- Already guaranteed to receive PPE: Nassib, Schobert, Kindred, Drango
- Likely to receive PPE: Coleman
- Shaky odds to receive PPE: Louis
The only way we see Coleman not earning the PPE is if he suffers a season-ending injury before the regular season. He only needs about 50 snaps to reach the cumulative 35% mark over a three-year span.
In order for Louis to get it, he’d need to play in about 20% of the team’s snaps this year. While that sounds like an attainable number, my assumption is that Cleveland will add one or two pieces to the wide receiver position this year and that Louis will be fighting just to make the roster.