Yesterday, the NFL officially communicated its 2018 salary cap number to the 32 clubs. The $177.2 million cap is a bit below previously reported estimates but still is an increase by more than $10 million when compared to 2017's number. One of the reasons why the salary cap rise did not match projections is the fact that representatives from the league and the players association agreed on a larger performance-based pool.
The performance compensation is intended to award players on low-level contracts who play significant snaps throughout a season. Overall, the league will distribute $4.415 million per team. High-priced veterans like quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and safety Devin McCourty will receive a comparatively smaller share, while others – mostly players on rookie deals – will get a bigger one.
Among the latter group of players are two of New England's starters: right guard Shaq Mason and defensive edge Trey Flowers are projected to receive a considerable percentage of the more than four million given out via performance escalators. However, this will not be the only way in which performance escalators influence the two players: Both Mason and Flowers are also projected to see their salaries increase this year.
Originally, as part of the standard four-year rookie deals they signed in 2015, the two players were scheduled to earn a $705,000 salary in 2018. However, given their statuses as mid-round draft picks – Flowers and Mason were both drafted in the fourth round –, the two players also qualify for so-called “proven performance escalators”. This means that their salaries increase to the level of the restricted free agency tender.
For Flowers and Mason, the increase is substantial: Instead of the above-mentioned $705,000, the duo will now play on a salary of $1.907 million – a considerable raise for two players on the verge of cashing in big time. After all, both Flowers and Mason are scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency one year from now.