If you’ve been a reader of Dawgs By Nature for years, then you’ll know about the “proven performance escalator (PPE).” In the past, it would offer a fourth-year salary bump to players who were selected between rounds 3-7 of the NFL Draft and met one of these two conditions: (1) the player participated in 35% of the snaps in two of his first three seasons, or (2) posted a cumulative average of 35% of snaps in his first three seasons.
This time last year, under the old rules, it was projected that OT Wyatt Teller would be the only player to receive the PPE in 2021. But then, the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) happened, in which eligibility was expanded. Under the new CBA, there are three different “levels” in which players can qualify for it, each one with a different pay grade. The player will receive the most lucrative level they are eligible for. Let’s dig into the new levels first:
Level 1 PPE
- This is the old way, for players selected in rounds 3-7. If they play in 35% of the snaps in two of three seasons, or 35% of the team’s cumulative snaps over three seasons, they get the PPE.
- The expansion in this category is that second round picks are now included. They just have a different threshold: 60% of the snaps are required.
- For players earning the Level 1 PPE, their base salary in the final year of their contract will increase to the original round tender amount of $2.183 million.
Level 2 PPE
- This is a new category altogether, and it includes players from rounds 2-7. If they participated in 55% of the team’s snaps in all three seasons, they earn the Level 2 PPE.
- The Level 2 PPE is very similar to the Level 1 PPE financially: it is the same amount ($2.183 million), plus $250,000. Therefore, their base salary would be $2.433 million.
Level 3 PPE
- This is also a new category, and it’s the most lucrative one. If a player from rounds 2-7 is nominated to the Pro Bowl on the original ballot in any of their first three seasons, they earn the Level 3 PPE.
- The Level 3 PPE is worth the equivalent of a second-round RFA tender, which would equate to $3.384 million this year.
Who Was Eligible This Year?
Since the criteria waits three years, that means we have to look back at players from the 2018 NFL Draft. The players on the Cleveland Browns who would have been eligible for the escalator are: RB Nick Chubb, DE Chad Thomas, WR Antonio Callaway, LB Genard Avery, WR Damion Ratley, and CB Simeon Thomas. However, players from the 2018 NFL Draft who came from other teams are also eligible: and that’s where OL Wyatt Teller and S Ronnie Harrison factor in.
Nick Chubb - 2nd Round Pick in 2018
Let’s start with the easiest one: RB Nick Chubb only averaged 47.5% of the team’s snaps as a second round pick, so he wasn’t eligible for the Level 1 or Level 2 PPEs. However, he automatically qualified for the most lucrative Level 3 PPE because he made the Pro Bowl in 2019 (and 2020).
Chubb’s base salary for 2021 was originally set to be $1.487 million. His 2021 base salary is now $3.384 million, an increase of $1.897 million.
Wyatt Teller - 5th Round Pick in 2018
Teller played in 35% or more of the snaps in each of his first three seasons to qualify for the Level 1 PPE.
Teller’s base salary for 2021 was originally set to be $920,000. His 2021 base salary is now $2.183 million, an increase of $1.263 million.
Ronnie Harrison - 3rd Round Pick in 2018
Harrison played in 35% of his team’s snaps in only one of his first three seasons. However, because he played a lot of snaps for the Jaguars in 2019, and because his 2018 and 2020 snap counts were just shy of 35%, his cumulative total was 47% for three seasons — which exceeded the 35% threshold to earn the Level 1 PPE.
Harrison’s base salary for 2021 was originally set to be $920,000. His 2021 base salary is now $2.183 million, an increase of $1.263 million.
Cumulatively, all three PPEs consumed an additional $4.423 million of the Browns’ cap space. This was already factored into our calculations from the other day, though.
Looking Into the Future
Looking forward to next year, LB Mack Wilson is the only player on the Browns who is on pace to get the PPE in 2022 — that is, unless Cleveland decides to cut him heading into the 2021 season.