Roy Helu was the Washington Redskins’ leading rusher as a rookie in 2011 and played a significant role for the team last season. As a result, his base salary for 2014 will double.
According to two people familiar with the details of Helu’s contract, the Washington Redskins running back reached the “proven performance escalator,” a clause in the collective bargaining agreement that rewards players who were drafted in the third through seventh rounds who are entering the final year of their rookie contract.
That means Helu, who was supposed to earn a base salary of $645,000 this season, will instead earn a base salary of $1,389,000. The escalator does not affect any of the bonuses tied to Helu’s the four-year, $2.51 million contract he signed in July 2011.
Helu qualified for the clause by playing in more than 35 percent of the Redskins’ offensive plays during two of his first three seasons. As a rookie, Helu played approximately 50 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps, running for 640 yards and two touchdowns and catching 49 passes for 379 yards and a touchdown.
He played only 44 snaps over three games in 2012 because of a variety of leg injuries, spending the rest of the season on injured reserve, but played approximately 46 percent of the Redskins’ offseason snaps in 2013, when he ran for 274 yards and four touchdowns and caught 31 passes for 251 yards.
Helu, 25, is likely to remain in a similar role behind Alfred Morris heading into next season. Morris was selected to play in the Pro Bowl last month after rushing for 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013.
The only other player from the Redskins’ 2011 draft class who would have come close to qualifying for the clause, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, narrowly missed it. Hankerson played in approximately 55 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps in 2012, but he tore the ACL and LCL in a road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 17 and only played in 34 percent of the Redskins’ total offensive snaps in 2013.
Washington is expected to head into free agency on March 11 with an anticipated $28 million in salary cap room, though that number won’t be finalized until later this month.