A salary escalator is similar to an incentive in that it is triggered by attaining certain performance thresholds. However, the extra money is not always guaranteed to be received. An earned escalator translates into a raise in a future year (or years) of the contract. If the escalator applies to a non-guaranteed season and the player is released prior to it, he would not receive the benefit of his escalator. Contracts can also contain de-escalators that lower a player’s salary for failing to reach performance measures.
For example, Keenan Allen earned a $2 million salary escalator in 2018 for recording 90-plus receptions and having the Chargers make the playoffs. His 2019 base salary increased from $8 million to $10 million, and his 2020 salary from $8.5 million to $10.5 million.