Bengals center Russell Bodine has earned the Proven Performance Escalator for the 2017 NFL season, which means his base salary will increase from his originally contracted $690,000 to approximately $1,795,325 next season. The precise figure of Bodine’s 2017 base salary will not be known until the 2017 Restricted Free Agent Qualifying Offers are finalized.
The Proven Performance Escalator was a new provision in the 2011 NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement which, when triggered, increases the fourth year base salary for players drafted in rounds 3 through 7 (players drafted in rounds 1 and 2, as well as undrafted players are ineligible for PPE consideration). A player drafted in rounds 3 through 7 can earn the Proven Performance Escalator in one of the following two ways:
(a) by participating in at least 35 percent of his team’s offensive or defensive plays in any two of his first three seasons; OR
(b) by participating in a cumulative average of 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive plays over his first three seasons.
If a player triggers the PPE, that player’s Year 4 base salary increases (“escalates”) from the previously negotiated base salary amount to an amount equal to the lowest level Qualifying Offer for Restricted Free Agents (i.e. the “Right of First Refusal” Qualifying Offer).
The Qualifying Offers for restricted free agency won’t become official for another month or so, but if we assume a 7.5 percent increase from the 2016 Right of First Refusal Qualifying Offer of $1,671,000 (which is consistent with the percentage increase from the $155.27 million 2016 salary cap to the reported $168 million salary cap for 2017), then the escalated/adjusted base salary amount upon earning the PPE will equal $1,796,325 [($1,671,000 x 7.5%)+ $1,671,000].
Since Bodine was already scheduled to earn a 2017 base salary of $690,000, his 2017 base salary will increase by $1,106,325 as a result of earning the PPE ($1,796,325 - $690,000). The amount of the base salary escalator ($1,106,325) will also equal the amount by which Bodine’s Year 4 cap hit will increase. In other words, Bodine’s 2017 cap hit was scheduled to be $804,114 ($690,000 base salary + $114,114 prorated signing bonus), but will now be $1,910,439 ($690,000 + $1,106,325 + $114,114).
- Cap Hit Increase = $1,106,325 ($1,910,439 – $804,114)
- Cash Spend Increase = $1,106,325 ($1,796,325 - $690,000)
The rest of the Bengals’ 2014 draft class who were eligible for the PPE - defensive end Will Clarke (3rd round), quarterback A.J. McCarron (5th round), linebacker Marquis Flowers (6th round), and wide receiver James Wright (7th round) - all failed to reach the threshold playtime percentage amounts in order to trigger the escalator. No eligible players from the Bengals’ 2013 draft class earned the PPE for this past 2016 season.
Prior to Bodine earning the PPE for 2017, Bengals players who have earned the PPE in the past include guard Clint Boling (from the 2011 Draft class) for the 2014 season, and safety George Iloka and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (from the 2012 Draft class) for the 2015 season.
Looking ahead to Bengals players who may achieve the PPE for the 2018 season (i.e. players drafted in rounds 3 through 7 from the 2015 draft class), the players with the most realistic chance to earn the PPE are defensive back Josh Shaw (4th round) and tight end C.J. Uzomah. Since Uzomah played in more than 35 percent of the team’s offensive plays during this past season, he will merely have to play in 35 percent of the 2017 offensive plays in order to earn the PPE for the 2018 season. The other PPE-eligible tight end from the Bengals’ 2015 Draft class (Tyler Kroft) has failed to play in at least 35 percent of the offensive snaps in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Therefore, Kroft will need to participate in enough plays next season to allow him to reach the 35% “cumulative “average” threshold in order to earn the PPE for the 2018 season.
Bodine, and all other members of the Bengals’ 2014 Draft class, are now also eligible to sign a long-term extension with the club since they have completed three seasons as drafted players. That includes Jeremy Hill, Clarke, Bodine, McCarron, Flowers and Wright.