With the Pittsburgh Steelers exiting their bye week, now is a great time to pass on some information concerning guard Kevin Dotson as it relates to his pay in 2023. In short, Dotson, the Steelers fourth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette, has now essentially secured a Level One Proven Performance Escalator raise for the 2023 season.
Dotson, who has played 100 percent of the Steelers offensive snaps so far this season, is now guaranteed to play more than 35 percent of all offseason snaps in 2022. This comes on the heels of Dotson playing 32.6 percent of all offensive snaps in his 2020 rookie season and 48.2 percent of all snaps in 2021.
In the league’s CBA, the Proven Performance Escalator is a three-level, non-negotiable amount in which a player’s base salary in the fourth year of his rookie contract increases if he meets certain predetermined thresholds.
The Level One PPE is structured differently for second-round picks and those selected in Rounds 3 through 7. To qualify for Level One, second-round picks must either (a) play 60 percent of his team’s offensive or defensive plays in any two of his first three seasons or (b) participate in a cumulative average of 60 percent of his team’s offensive or defensive plays over the course of his first three regular seasons. For third- through seventh-round picks, players can hit either (a) or (b) above, but the threshold to reach drops to 35 percent of such plays.
For such players, the Level One PPE increases a player’s fourth-year base salary by the difference of the right-of-first-refusal tender for restricted free agents set for the player’s fourth season and the player’s Year 4 rookie salary, less any signing bonus prorations. This amount is then added to the player’s Year 4 base salary.
With Dotson being a fourth-round selection, the threshold for him is 35 percent. He can still qualify for a Level Three Proven Performance Escalator in 2023 but to do so he would need to make the pro Bowl this season as an original ballot selection. That’s highly unlikely to happen, however.
So, with Dotson now qualified, what does that mean for him salary-wise in 2023? Well, it means his 2023 salary will increase from the scheduled amount of $1.01 million up to the amount of a 2023 right-of-first-refusal tender for restricted free agents, which right now is projected to be around $2.629 million, according to Over The Cap. So, an increase of $1.619 million for Dotson. That extra increase, however, does go against the Steelers salary cap as well.
So, what about other members of the Steelers’ 2020 draft class? As I reported back in July, Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith had already qualified for a Level One Proven Performance Escalator raise in 2023 based on the snaps he played in his first two NFL seasons. Like Dotson, Highsmith can still quality for a Level Three Proven Performance Escalator Raise in 2023 if he makes the Pro Bowl this season as an original ballot selection.