Patriots punter Jake Bailey is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the proven performance escalators that were included in the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
A fifth-round draft pick in 2019, Bailey would ordinarily make $965,000 this year, the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. But the CBA’s proven performance escalator provides significant pay raises to non-first-round draft picks who make a Pro Bowl within their first three NFL seasons.
Bailey was chosen to the Pro Bowl after the 2020 season, which means his base salary increases to $3,986,000 in 2022. That’s a pay raise of more than $3 million for that Pro Bowl selection. For all the talk about how irrelevant the Pro Bowl has become, it matters a lot to some players, and Bailey is one of them.
In fact, as noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN, Bailey will actually be the NFL’s highest-paid punter this season. (Seahawks punter Michael Dickson has a higher cap number than Bailey, but in terms of the money Bailey is scheduled to get paid this year, he’s No. 1.)
There is one potential drawback to this for Bailey, however: His salary is not guaranteed. Which means the Patriots may decide he’s not worth the money, and either cut him or use the threat of cutting him to squeeze him to sign a team-friendly contract extension.
Still, Bailey could have been cut with his $965,000 salary, too. The proven performance escalator has him much better-positioned heading into 2022.