The play of Jordan Howard and Nick Kwiatkoski will be rewarded with pay raises, but it comes at a time that makes an already tight Chicago Bears budget that much tighter.
Brad Spielberger of OverTheCap.com shares some news that further complicates the Bears’ salary cap situation. Howard, a fifth-round running back from Indiana, and Kwiatkoski, a fourth-round linebacker from West Virginia have played their way into raises in their 2016 rookie deals. Both have met requirements that activate the Proven Performance Escalator clause for draft picks taken in the third round or later.
The clause (which you can read about here, via OTC) comes into play when a player is in on at least 35 percent of the snaps on the offensive or defensive side of the ball in two of the team’s first three seasons. Not only did Howard and Kwiatkoski hit those benchmarks, a look into the future shows that both Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen are in line to hit the necessary criteria and are projected to hit the same contract escalators, too.
As a fan, you like to see late-round picks blossom and play their way into bigger contracts. So from that perspective, good for them. It’s always good to see hard work pay off in bonus pay. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a little bit of extra green in their wallets after putting in a good amount of work. Moreover, it’s good to see GM Ryan Pace’s late-round finds grow into players who get a hefty share of the workload and thrive with the increased number of snaps. That these players are in a position to earn bonuses means that good things are happening for the Bears on the field. Hooray for good things happening!
On the other hand, the news comes at a time where the Bears are trying to squeeze the most out of every penny. Once set to make $720,000 in 2019, the escalators in the rookie deals signed by Howard and Kwiatkoski will put their base salaries at a projected $2,035,000. That’s an increase of $1.315 million for each player, which is eye-opening if you consider that the Bears have around $10 million in salary cap space as currently constructed.
And with that, the Bears’ salary cap crunch continues.