The Rising Value of Cornerbacks

July 31st, 2014

The “self-promoted” announcement of Patrick Peterson’s 5 year $70 million extension not only makes him the highest paid cornerback in football, but it further establishes the recent trend of increasing dollars being award to players in the secondary. We’ll take a look at the last three major contracts signed among NFL cornerbacks, breaking down the numbers to assess the trend.
Since the first of the year, 5 cornerbacks have signed extensions with their respective teams for a total of $220.3M dollars. These extensions average just north of 4 years a piece, meaning the average veteran cornerback is receiving a contract extension of 4 years, $55 million in 2014. The 48 cornerbacks who signed via free agency this offseason averaged an annual salary of $3.6 million, a total of $277.14 million in contracts. All in all we’re talking about $447.4M in contracts doled out to 53 veteran cornerbacks this offseason, or nearly $8.5M per player.
These figures are up considerably from the 2013 offseason, where just 2 extensions were signed for a total of $20M, and 49 free agent cornerbacks signed for $229M – an average annual salary of just $2.84M.
We’ll take a closer look at some of the bigger cornerback extensions recently signed:

Patrick Peterson | ARZ | 5 year, $70.05M extension

Peterson’s deal contains just enough to make him the highest average paid cornerback in league at $14.001M per year. The reported $48 million guaranteed is somewhat jaded, as the deal contains rolling guarantees (similar to Colin Kaepernick’s recent extension with the 49ers). In a recent projection, Peterson valued out mathematically at around $10.5M per season when comparing him to the other top cornerbacks in the league.

USA TodayPeterson now becomes the highest average paid cornerback in the NFL.

Originally set to earn $2.88M in 2014 cash, with a $5.8 million cap hit, Peterson will now cash in $16.25 million in 2014, and another $11.7 million in 2015.
His 2014 cap raises slightly to $6.9M, then increases rapidly to figures of $14.79, $13, $13, $14.3, and $11.25 in the following seasons.

Guaranteed Money
The deal contains $16.25M in initial guaranteed money, his $15.361M signing bonus + his $888k 2014 salary. Each of Peterson’s 2015-2017 base salaries initially guarantee for injury only. They become fully guaranteed on the 5th day of their subsquent league waiver period. This gives Arizona a bit of an out after this season, though the large signing bonus makes for significant dead cap until the 2017 season.


Richard Sherman | SEA | 4 year, $56M extension

Prior to Peterson’s signing, Richard Sherman was the highest average paid CB in the NFL at $14M per season. His deal contains $40 million in practical guarantees, but structured similar to Peterson in that the Peterson’s deal in that the 2015-17 base salaries don’t guarantee until 5 days after the previous Super Bowl.

USA TodayRichard Sherman’s $14M per season now ranks behind Peterson.

Originally set to earn $1.431M in 2014 cash, with a $1.476 million cap hit, Sherman will now cash in $12.431 million in 2014, and another $10 million in 2015. His 2014 cap raises slightly to $3.6M, then increases rapidly to figures of $12.2, $14.7 $13.6, & $13.2 in the following seasons.

Guaranteed Money
The deal contains $12.431 million in initial guarantees, his $11 million signing bonus and $1.431 million 2014 salary. Sherman’s 2015 $10 million salary becomes fully guaranteed 5 days after this year’s Super Bowl. His $12.569 million 2016 salary + $5 million of his $11.431 million 2017 salary fully guarantee 5 days after next year’s Super Bowl. Like Peterson, the contract contains significant dead cap through the 2017 season, making Sherman fairly safe for another 4 years in Seattle.


Joe Haden | CLE | 5 year, $67.5M extension

Haden’s deal in Cleveland is structured a little bit different than the recent contracts to Sherman and Peterson in that the 2014 salary needed to be much higher in value. His $6.678M base salary is the same figure he was scheduled to make from his rookie contract. As a 2010 draft pick, Haden was not subjected to the rookie wage scale, so his first contract with the Browns was to the likes of 5 years $40 million

USA TodayHaden will earn $22.8M in cash in 2014 with the Browns.

The higher initial payment comes with a $12.1M cap hit for 2014 (2nd most among CBs), but just $11.6M in 2015. The caps jump to $13.4, $14.4, $14.4, and then down to $10.5M in the following seasons. He’ll earn a whopping $22.87M in 2014 cash, nearly double what Sherman receives.

Guaranteed Money
The deal contains $22.6 million in initial guarantees, his $16 million signing bonus and $6.67 million 2014 salary. Hadens $8.3M 2015 salary becomes fully guaranteed prior to the start of next year, as does his $10.1M 2016 salary prior to that season. There are reports that $4 million of his 2017 salary also becomes fully guaranteed prior to the 2016 season, but we’ve yet to confirm that. While Peterson and Sherman are fairly safe through the 2017 season in their contracts, Haden could be traded or released following the 2016 with just a $6.4M dead cap hit to the Browns.

» Top Average Paid Cornerbacks of 2014

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Notable Expiring Defensive Contracts in 2014

July 30th, 2014

USATSI_6719074_160074578_lowresToday we switch to the defensive side of the ball, locating players who are entering the final year of their contracts and could be up for extensions in the coming months with their respective teams.

Ndamukong Suh | DT | Detroit Lions |

It’s been widely reported that the Lions have tabled discussions to extend Suh until further notice. This comes as a bit of a surprise after Detroit declined to offer Nick Fairley his 5th-year option, and with the knowledge that a franchise tag for Suh in 2015 will count $36,632,500 against their salary cap. It’s becoming more and more possible that the 27 year old is able to test the market next offseason, a treat for plenty of NFL teams with cap space. He valued out at a fairly reasonable $10.5M per year salary in our recent projection, keeping in mind the $19.5M in dead cap he currently carries with the Lions. He’s earned a whopping $51.53M through 4 NFL seasons in Detroit.


Gerald McCoy | DT | Tampa Bay Buccaneers |

Often under the radar, McCoy’s production has been second only to the dominant J.J. Watt over the past two seasons, averaging 7 sacks and 30 tackles over that span. He enters 2014 with the highest cap hit on the team at $15.6M, a number that can be reduced with a long-term deal. With Watt under contract in Houston through 2015, and Suh carrying so much dead cap, McCoy’s next contract could be the foundation for major defensive lineman deals going forward. He’s earned $44.4M through 4 NFL seasons.


Greg Hardy | DE | Carolina Panthers |

Back to back breakout seasons for Hardy led to a no-brainer franchise tag from the Carolina Panthers in 2014 (valued at $13.116M). He’s averaged 13 sacks and 40 tackles since 2012, but may have taken a step back this offseason with a recent off-the-field domestic charge. Once he’s back in the fold, Hardy should be in the conversation for one of the biggest defensive contracts in recent history. A recent forecast on our end valued the pass rusher out at over $13.6M per season (ironically close to the value of his current franchise tag). He’s earned just $2.68M to date in 4 seasons with the Panthers.


Jerry Hughes | OLB/DE | Buffalo Bills |

The Bills acquired the Colts’ former 1st round pick in April of 2013 and the change of scenery seemed to be the ingredient for success. Hughes responded with 11 sacks and 25 tackles in Mike Pettine’s defense, and enters the 2014 with an even bigger role in Jim Schwartz’s Wide-9 scheme. His $3.995M cap figure for 2014 is a great value for the Bills, who will most likely enter extension conversations sooner than later with the 25 year old.He’s earned $8.9M in 4 NFL seasons.


Justin Houston | OLB | Kansas City Chiefs |

An underrated player on a quietly good Chiefs’ team, Houston has averaged 10.5 sacks and 47 tackles over the past two seasons in Kansas City. The final year of his 3rd round contract comes with a meager $1.6M cap hit ($1.431M in cash), and the Chiefs appear to be playing hardball with both he and QB Alex Smith in terms of long-term extensions. He’ll be the best young linebacker to hit the market if he’s left to do so, and has earned $2.116M in 3 NFL seasons.


Brandon Spikes | ILB | Buffalo Bills |

The former Patriot opened plenty of eyes this offseason when he signed a team-friendly 1 year $3.25M deal to join the Bills. All signs point to him being a great fit in the middle of Jim Schwartz’s Wide-9 defense, and a good start to the year could find the two sides at the negotiating table for a long-term extension. At just 26 years old, Spikes rated out as the 6th most productive inside linebacker according to Pro Football Focus in 2013. He’s earned $2.8M through 4 NFL seasons.


Chris Harris | CB | Denver Broncos

Harris has put together back to back strong seasons in slot of the Broncos’ secondary, averaging 3 interceptions, 56 tackles, and 12 deflections since 2012. He’s set to play the 2014 season on a $2.187M restricted tender, and will have a nice foundation to work from with the massive recent signings of Richard Sherman, Joe Haden, and Patrick Peterson. The undrafted free agent rated out as the 8th most productive cornerback in 2013 according to PFF, and has earned $1.397M through 3 NFL seasons in Denver.


Devin McCourty | S | New England Patriots |

The best safety in football according to PFF’s 2013 rankings is set to hit the open market after the 2014 season. McCourty is averaging 4 INTs, 12 deflections, and 61 tackles a season since 2010 in New England, and his $5.115M cap figure ranks 11th among active safeties. It seems highly unlikely that the Patriots let their 2010 1st round pick walk away for free next season. He’s earned $9.16M in 4 NFL seasons.


Stats derived from: Pro Football Focus

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Notable Expiring Offensive Contracts in 2014

July 29th, 2014

uspw_6813204As 2014 roster are being finalized in training camps across the country, we’ll take an early look at players who are currently entering the final year of their contracts, and their outlook going forward.


Alex Smith | QB | Kansas City Chiefs |

The 30-year-old signed a 3 year $25.25M contract with the 49ers prior to being traded to Kansas City. He maintained his consistent play, leading the Chiefs to the playoffs with over 3,300 yards passing, 23 TDs, 8 INTS, and over 430 yards rushing to go with it. He values out at nearly $15 million per season in a recent projection of ours, and while discussion of a long-term deal has been ongoing, the two sides seem far apart. He’s currently the 4th highest average paid player on the Chiefs roster, and has earned $48 million over 9 NFL Seasons to date.


Andy Dalton | QB | Cincinnati Bengals |

The Bengals have found their way into the playoffs in all three of Dalton’s first NFL seasons. Factor in a career average of 330 completions, 3,800 yards, 27 TDs, and 16 INTs per season and it seems a no-brainer that Dalton remains the QB in Cincinnati for the long-term. But with no extension imminent, it appears the Bengals’ are choosing the “Joe Flacco” option, offering Dalton the chance to play out his final year to prove his true worth going forward. The 26 year old valued out at nearly $19M per year in a recent contract forecast, so another solid season could turn around quite the pay day in 2015. He’s earned $4.1M over 3 NFL seasons to date.


C.J. Spiller | RB | Buffalo Bills |

Spiller has shown flashes of greatness in Buffalo, enduring a complete overhaul of the coaching staff & offense, and a new quarterback at the helm. Injuries and a lack of trust from his coaches have limited touches over the first four seasons, combining for 148 attempts, 755 yards, and 3 TDs rushing on average. Throw in 35 catches, 270 yards and another TD in the passing game, and Spiller has been a viable, but not exceptional offensive weapon for the Bills to date. He’ll need a big year in Buffalo to raise his stock, as he recently valued out at just $4M per year going forward, and has earned $16.2M over 4 NFL seasons.


Frank Gore | RB | San Francisco 49ers |

Gore has been one of the most consistent backs over the past 9 years, averaging 243 attempts, 1,100 yards, and almost 7 TDS rushing during that span. He’s also caught an average of 36 balls for 310 yards receiving since 2005 making him a viable weapon for the Niners. Now 31-years-old, and with a number of young backs behind him on the depth chart, the likelihood for a big pay day in San Francisco is slim. He’s earned $33.4M over his 9 seasons.


Michael Crabtree | WR | San Francisco 49ers |

After a breakout 2012 campaign (85 catches, 1,100 yards, 9 TDs), Crabtree suffered an achilles injury that put a damper on his 2013 season. He’ll enter the final year of his rookie contract with a chance to bounce-back and prove his value going forward. He’s earned $16.7M over 5 NFL season in San Francisco.


Demaryius Thomas | WR | Denver Broncos |

Speaking of breakout seasons, Thomas has averaged 93 catches, 1,4300 yards, and 12 TDs since the 2012 acquisition of Peyton Manning in Denver. He enters the 2014 campaign as one of the best values in football ($4.7M cap hit), and like his offensive colleague TE Julius Thomas, is playing for his next contract. He’s earned $10.8M over the past 4 NFL seasons, and currently values at $9.7M per season in a recent contract projection.


Dez Bryant | WR | Dallas Cowboys |

Comparable to Thomas above, Bryant has had back to back breakout seasons in Dallas, averaging 92 catches, 1,300 yards, and 12 touchdowns since 2012. He enters 2014 an even better value ($3.1M cap hit), and may need to be franchise-tagged to stay in Dallas another season, currently projected at around $12M. When value-assessed against the best receivers in the game, Bryant held his own – garnering a $14M average annual salary projection in our latest report. He’s earned $9.78M with the Cowboys to date.


Julius Thomas | TE | Denver Broncos |

The “other Thomas” in Denver has plenty to say about his current paycheck, set to earn just $645,000 in 2014. He caught 65 balls for 788 yards and 12 TDs in a loaded 2013 Broncos offense, and should be utilized even more in 2014. It’s likely Thomas is on track to be franchise tagged after the seasons if the two sides are unable to work out a long-term extension, currently projected to be about $7M for 2015. He’s earned $1.779M through 3 NFL seasons to date.


Stats derived from: Pro Football Focus

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Financial Implications for NFL Players on the Bubble

July 21st, 2014

With NFL training camps just around the corner, the rumor mills are filling up with reports of players who may not make the final cut come September. We’ll keep a running list of these reported players, and include the salary cap implication to the team should he be cut prior to the season.

View the Complete Report Here

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Financial Camp Preview: Buffalo Bills

July 18th, 2014

USATSI_7929831_160074578_lowresThe Buffalo Bills head into the 2014 training camp season with mostly optimistic expectations, dampered slightly by the season-ending injury to breakout linebacker Kiko Alonso, and the exit of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine (now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns). Generally speaking the 6-10 2013 Bills remain intact heading into the new campaign, and the now second-year coaching staff have implemented a more complex approach to the spread-offense with more weapons at their disposal.


Current Cap Figures

The Bills head into training camp with an estimated $121.6M allocated toward their Top 51 salary cap, and $144.6M allocated overall. With an adjusted cap of $150,584,740, Buffalo remains in good shape heading toward August, and should have room to add a few key players who are trimmed from rosters late this summer.

Related: View the 2014 Buffalo Bills Salary Cap Breakdown


Key Additions

USA TodayBrandon Spikes brings a nasty, and proven presence to the center of the Bills’ run defense.

Mike Williams, WR
The Bills acquired the somewhat exiled receiver from the Buccaneers for a 6th round pick in this year’s draft. He brings with him Top 2 WR potential, and 5 years/ $32.05M remaining on his contract – just $1.6M of it currently guaranteed though. He’ll earn just $1.8M in cash for the 2014 season.

Brandon Spikes, LB
The Bills had trouble stopping the run-game in 2013, and the free agent signing of Brandon Spikes from the rival Patriots should work to plug that hole immediately. To sweeten the pot, Spikes signed a team friendly 1 year $3.25 million deal, with only his $900,000 signing bonus fully guaranteed. A good start to the year could breed talks for a long-term extension.

Corey Graham, CB
The former Bear & Raven returned home to Buffalo this offseason, signing a 4 year $16.3M contract through the 2017 season, with just a $1.5M 2014 salary and a $4M signing bonus guaranteed. He’ll be utlized throughout the secondary and the special teams unit from the get-go and could make a significant impact this season.

Sammy Watkins, WR
No team made a bigger splash this draft than the Bills, who swapped 1st round picks, and gave up the rights to their 2015 1st round selection to slide up and take Sammy Watkins at #4 overall. He signed his 4 year $19.9M contract in late May, and will certainly be the featured weapon in this wide-open Bills’ offense out of the gate.


Key Losses

USA TodayFormer Bills safety Jairus Byrd signed a 6 year $54M contract with the Saints this offseason.

Jairus Byrd, S
After multiple offseason battles, the Bills finally backed down from their long-time captain of the secondary, seeing him sign a 6 year $54 million contract with the New Orleans Saints this offseason. It’s not clear if the Bills attempted to hand Byrd the $9M per year contract he was coveting, but outside of Mario Williams ($16M/yr), no other current Bill garners more than $8M annually. He’ll be replaced by much cheaper talent in Aaron/Duke Williams, & Da’Norris Searcy.

Stevie Johnson, WR
The long-time and somewhat beloved Bills receiver fell out of sorts with the new administration, and the selection of Sammy Watkins combined with the acquisition of Mike Williams all but secured his ticket out of town this offseason. Buffalo sent Johnson to the stockpile of talent that is the San Francisco 49ers for a conditional 2015 4th round draft pick, a move that added $10.225M in dead money to their 2014 salary cap.


Positional Spending

Position 2014 Cap $ % of Cap
Quarterback $3,396,052 2.25
Running Back $11,923,332 7.93
Fullback $570,000 .38
Wide Receiver $10,013,272 6.65
Tight End $4,479,444 2.98
Tackle $8,317,895 5.52
Guard $5,823,000 3.83
Center $7,050,000 4.68
Defensive End $26,105,000 17.33
Defensive Tackle $12,743,232 8.46
Linebackers $10,445,429 6.93
Cornerback $7,055,035 4.69
Safety $6,940,198 4.61
Special Teams $2,905,500 1.92

Offense ($49,665,816, 33% of 2014 cap)
The Bills have the spending patterns in place on paper to become a very good team in the next three seasons, including a young and inexpensive QB ($2M cap), a modest offensive line payroll ($16M), a deep running game (four strong running backs at just $11.37M), and a deep, financially balanced passing arsenal (Top 6 WRs cost just $8.446M).
Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.03.10 AM


Defense ($66,780,173, 44.3% of 2014 cap)
It’s clear as day that the Bills are built to rush the passer, with nearly $40M in 2014 cap allocated to the defensive line/ends. The loss of Alonso leaves Buffalo with 8 linebackers at just $10.8M in cap dollars – a potential huge value. Their secondary consists of 17 players currently with just $18M dollars allocated to their salary cap – a figure that will drop considerably with camp cuts.
Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.08.11 AM


Potential Roster Bubbles

Erik Pears, OL
The Bills drafted heavily to their offensive line in the middle rounds this offseason, and it’s likely that Cyrus Kouandjio is the straw that cracks Pears from this roster. His release would clear $2.9 million in cap space heading into the season.

T.J. Graham, WR
The acquisition of Williams, draft of Watkins, and emergence of Marquise Goodwin in 2013 should be enough to keep T.J. Graham from cracking this roster. The former 3rd round pick has shown flashes, but not nearly the consistency to be a long-term option for the Bills. His release would clear $610,000 in 2014.

Chris Gragg, TE
The addition of Tony Moeaki from the Chiefs in the middle of 2013 could be a recipe for success heading into 2014. Combined with Scott Chandler, and the block-first presence of Lee Smith, the Bills should be in shape to continue on without the services of Gragg, a move that clears $495,000.

Dustin Hopkins, K
A 6th round pick from 2013, Hopkins spent the 2013 season on IR, and was replaced by free agent signing Dan Carpenter, who shined in the role. His $523,000 cap for 2014 makes him the cheaper option, but it’s hard to see Carpenter losing the spot.

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Breaking Down the Jimmy Graham Contract

July 15th, 2014

USATSI_7607448_160074578_lowres The Saints finally made good on their long-term intentions with TE/WR/Big Weapon Jimmy Graham, signing him to a 4 year $40 million contract, with $21 million guaranteed ($13 million initially). The deal replaces the $7.035 million franchise tag Graham was previously being held under as a tight end in 2014.

While not all details of the deal have been 100% confirmed (Incentives, Workout Bonuses, etc…) we can take a look at the base structure of the contract and assess where Graham lines up in comparison to other tight ends and wide receivers heading into the 2014 season.

Contract Breakdown (as we know it)

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 2.49.31 PM
The deal includes a $12 million signing bonus that pro-rates over the life of the contract at $3 million per year. In addition, Graham holds salaries of $1 million, $8 million, $9 million, and $10 million from 2014-2017 respectively.

The signing bonus and $1 million salary for 2014 are fully guaranteed as of today, while the $8 million salary for 2015 (guaranteed for injury only now) doesn’t fully guarantee until the 3rd day of the 2015 league waiver period.

In terms of cash this means, $13M in 2014, $8M in 2015, $9M in 2016, and $10M in 2017. To compare, had the Saints elected to franchise tag Graham in 2014 AND 2015, the estimated 2 year total would have been nearly $22M – almost exactly the 2 year cash total on this new contract. The name of the game here is upfront cash, where Graham now takes in $13M instead of the previously noted $7.035M.

Comparing Other Tight Ends


Comparing to Wide Receivers


Final Thoughts

It should come as no surprise that the Saints have made Jimmy Graham the highest paid tight end in nearly all shapes and angles. The deal is also structured in a way that both parties can walk away after 1 year with a relatively light financial risk ($9M dead cap hit in 2015 as of now), and a very low-risk in 2016 ($6M in dead money). Even if the contract is played out in its entirety, at just 27 years old now – a 31 year old Jimmy Graham will draw plenty of attention on the market in 4 years.

What this contract didn’t do is “shake up” the financial value of the tight end position, and shouldn’t stop teams from slapping the franchise tag on their tight ends in the coming years. Until the “elite” players of a position are being paid MUCH more than the “above average” ones, the franchise tag will alawys be a “good value” for a team. Graham took a deal today that earned himself more cash, and fit nicely into a tight-capped Saints roster – but he did little to change the direction of the overall value of the tight end going forward – a title he doesn’t even want.

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Salary Cap Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

July 1st, 2014

USATSI_7530849_160074578_lowres As June turns to July, we’ll begin our multi-part Salary Cap Fantasy Rankings series, assessing the best financial values heading into the 2014 season, starting with the Quarterbacks. We’ll assess 2013 true value statistic ratings, with 2014 salary cap dollars, and projected fantasy auction prices

Best Young Values

Russell Wilson (SEA)
The 2nd best value according to our true value statistic has the 54th highest 2014 cap hit ($817,302) among active quarterbacks. At just 25 years old, Wilson is the prototypical long-term fantasy value, and is pricing out at just $6 in auction leagues thus far.

Ryan Tannehill (MIA)
Tannehill had a better year than many remember, posting nearly 4,000 yards along with 24 touchdowns, both major improvements from his rookie campaign. His $3,455,046 cap figure ranks 30th among QBs, comparing to the 4th best valued QB in our efficiency ratings for 2013. He’ll cost you next to nothing in auction leagues.

Nick Foles (PHI)
Foles averaged 15 completions for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns through 13 2013 games with the Eagles. The 7th best value’s $770,880 cap hit for 2014 ranks 55th among QBs, and he’s pricing out at $8 in fantasy leagues – a bit of a high price for a such a small sample size.

Best Veteran Values

Peyton Manning (DEN)
His $17.5 million cap hit ranks 7th among active quarterbacks, but this doesn’t hold back Peyton Manning from being a worthy value in salary cap/auction leagues. Manning outperformed ALL quarterbacks in terms of our true value statistic in 2013, and there’s little reason to believe he won’t do so again in 2014.

Drew Brees (NO)
Brees put together another 5,100, 40 TD season in 2013 utilizing his plethora of offensive weapons. He heads into 2014 with the potential rookie of the year in Brandin Cooks adding to the mix, and an $18.4 million cap figure (4th among QBs). Brees turned in the 5th most efficient season according to our TVS rating, and should continue down that path with just a $1M increase in cap dollars.

Philip Rivers (SD)
Rivers quietly put together a 4,500 yards, 32 TD (just 11 INT) 2013 season with a less than exceptional arsenal at his disposal. He enters 2014 with just two years remaining on his contract, and a $16.6M cap hit (9th among QBs). A bolstered and healthy running game should open up even more air space for Rivers, who chimed in as the 3rd best valued QB in 2013.

Salary Cap Best Values

Russell Wilson (SEA) – $817,302
Nick Foles (PHI) – $770,880
Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – $3,455,046
Colin Kaepernick (SF) – $3,767,444

Auction League Best Values

Russell Wilson (SEA) – $6
Tom Brady (NE) – $2
Philip Rivers (SD) – $1
Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – $0

2014 Quarterback Salary/Fantasy Data

Each QB’s 2014 cap hit, 2013 True Value Statistic, and projected Fantasy Auction Price.

2014 Cap
Peyton ManningDEN38$17,500,0001$49
Russell Wilson SEA25$817,3022$6
Philip RiversSD32$16,666,6663$1
Ryan TannehillMIA25$3,455,0464$0
Drew BreesNO35$18,400,0005$39
Andrew LuckIND24$6,029,4546$14
Nick FolesPHI25$770,8807$8
Aaron RodgersGB30$17,900,0008$43
Tom BradyNE36$14,800,0009$2
Jay CutlerCHI31$18,500,00010$1
Cam NewtonCAR25$7,008,11311$17
Colin KaepernickSF26$3,767,44412$2
Matt RyanATL29$17,500,00013$2
Tony RomoDAL34$11,773,00014$1
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT32$18,895,00015$1
Carson PalmerARI34$12,000,00016$0
Matthew StaffordDET26$15,820,00017$21
Ryan FitzpatrickHOU31$3,375,00018$0
Andy DaltonCIN26$1,659,06319$1
Alex SmithKC30$8,000,00022$0
Matt CasselMIN32$5,750,00023$0
Mike GlennonTB24$705,46924$0
Robert Griffin IIIWAS24$5,759,75425$8
Joe FlaccoBAL29$14,800,00027$0
Geno SmithNYJ23$1,140,81928$0
E.J. ManuelBUF24$2,019,38629$0
Chad HenneJAC28$5,750,00030$0
Matt SchaubOAK33$8,000,00031$0
Eli ManningNYG33$20,400,00032$1

Related: Ranking Quarterback 2014 Cap Hits

TVS ratings calculated here
All statistics drawn from Pro Football Reference
Auction Fantasy Figures from ESPN


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Potential NFL Bubble Players & Cap Casualties

June 13th, 2014

With a high percentage of draft picks now signed, and the free agent market finally slowing down to a jogger’s pace, we’ll take a look at each of the NFL rosters and locate a player who still may be considered a roster bubble or cap casualty over the next few months. In some cases we’ve outlined a player who may have more value via a trade than a release or an over-priced roster spot. These are merely projections based on financial value and roster availability. Feel free to leave your thoughts & comments below.

Arizona Cardinals – D. Stanton/R. Lindley (QB)

The selection of QB Logan Thomas in the 4th round of this year’s draft raised a few eyebrows across the league. While he’s a project, he’s most likely a 1-2 year roster guarantee. This leaves Drew Stanton, whom the Cardinals re-signed Drew Stanton to a 3 year $8.2 million contract last season to backup Carson Palmer, and Ryan Lindley a 6th round pick in 2012. Releasing Stanton clears $2M in 2014 cap, while Lindley would free up $570,090. It’s likely these two will be playing for a spot on the roster this August.

Atlanta Falcons -Cliff Matthews (DE)

Before the injury to Sean Weatherspoon, the likely candidate here would have been Osi Umenyiora. For now though we’ll shift gears to the other side of the defensive line, where DE Cliff Matthews stands to enter a contract year, with a cap figure of $656,750. He’s been pushed down the depth chart more each year, and the Falcons can recoup $645,000 in cap space by cutting him loose.

Baltimore Ravens – Jah Reid (G)

The Ravens’ offensive line has seen plenty of shifting since the end of the 2013 season, but Reid ( still doesn’t appear to have his place supplanted. The additions of Will Rackley & A.Q. Shipley at minimum contracts doesn’t bode well either. Baltimore can clear $645,000 in cap space with his release.

Buffalo Bills – C.J. Spiller (RB)

The Bills made plenty of noise by giving up their 2015 1st round draft pick to slide up and select offensive weapon Sammy Watkins this past May. In doing so they bring what many say is a “sure-thing playmaker” to their offense, something the Bills have been hoping to see consistently out of C.J. Spiller over the past 4 seasons. While releasing Spiller makes little to no sense, it’s certainly feasible for the Bills to be shopping him at this point. Spiller is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and holds a $5.916M cap figure (5th highest on the Bills). Trading him clears around $1.58 million in space, but can also bring back a significant draft pick – something the Bills are in need of next season.

Carolina Panthers – Mike McNeill (TE)

The Panthers are fairly deep in the tight end department, with returning weapon Greg Olsen, and the acquisition of Ed Dickson from Baltimore. Carolina actually gave McNeil a 2 year $1.52 million contract this offseason, but just $100,000 guaranteed. His contributions as a blocker and special teamer may force the Panthers to keep him around, but with a $710k cap hit, and $660k in savings, he’s certainly on the bubble.

Chicago Bears – Chris Conte (S)

Conte had a statistically awful 2013, rating out as the 82nd best safety according to PFF. The Bears selected Brock Vereen in the 4th round, a player they feel can contend for playing time in 2014, and also acquired Danny McCray from the Cowboys to add depth in the safety position. It’s Conte’s job to lose heading into training camp. The Bears can clear $1.451 million by cutting him loose.

Cincinnati Bengals – BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB)

Green-Ellis has been a steady weapon for the Bengals since 2012, but at 28 years old, and with plenty of RB depth now around him, it’s likely he’s on the bubble heading into training camp. BGE is entering the final year of his 3 year $9 million contract, and currently holds a $3 million cap figure for 2014. Cincinnati can clear $2.5 million in space by releasing him.

Cleveland Browns – Isaiah Trufant (CB)

Quite frankly, the Browns have done plenty of roster trimming already this offseason, and may not need to remove much of anything in terms of notable contracts going forward. Cleveland is roster heavy at both the WR and CB positions, and with the recent suspension of Josh Gordon, it’s not likely that the likes of Nate Burleson, Miles Austin, or Earl Bennett are let go anytime soon. The 1st round selection of CB Justin Gilbert should make some noise in Mike Pettine’s defense though, leaving one of the veterans as the odd man out. Releasing Trufant clears $645,000 in cap space ($150,000 guaranteed).

Dallas Cowboys – Jeremy Parnell (OT)

The Cowboys made the safe pick in this year’s 1st round, selecting tackle Zack Martin out of Notre Dame. In light of this, the Cowboys should be able to trim some of their higher offensive line contracts to begin to work their salary cap back to normalcy. Jeremy Parnell is set to count $1.83 million against their 2014 cap. By releasing him the Cowboys can clear a much needed $1.5 million immediately.

Denver Broncos – Joel Dreessen (TE)

The breakout year from Julius Thomas combined with a long-time chemistry between Peyton Manning and Jacob Tamme, mixed in with offseason surgery should spell disaster for Joel Dreessen in 2014. He caught just 7 passes in a reduced role in 2013, and stands to count $3.16 million against the Broncos cap in 2014. His release clears a much needed $2.5 million.

Detroit Lions – Mikel Leshoure (RB)

With 1,000+ yards and 9 TDs in 2012, Leshoure was on everyone’s breakout list. But he carried the ball just two times in 2013, and has all but been forgotten in Detroit with the expanded roles for Joique Bell and Reggie Bush. It’s possible Leshoure carries late-round trade value (similar to Bryce Brown), especially with just $843,297 in contract to be acquired.

Green Bay Packers – Jarrett Bush (CB)

Bush finds himself as the 6th CB on the depth chart heading into training camp, a bad spot to be in with Tramon Williams and Sam Shields leading the way. His $2.03 million cap figure for 2014 makes his situation even worse, and the Packers can clear $1.7 million by releasing him.

Houston Texans – T.J. Yates (QB)

Like the Browns, Houston did much of their trimming early – by releasing some of their bad values, and letting other players walk in free agency. It’s unlikely they’ll make another big splash in terms of cutting the roster, but we know for sure they won’t keep 4 QBs heading into 2014. Yates seems like the odd-man out per his setback year in 2013. He enters the final year of his contract with a $691,250 cap, and will clear $645k with his release.

Indianapolis Colts – LaVon Brazill (WR)

Brazill caught just 18 balls in 2014, and should be pushed further down the depth chart with the acquisition of Hakeem Nicks, and the 3rd round selection of Donte Moncrief. He’s entering year three of his rookie contract, and his release will clear $570k from the Colts cap.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Marcedes Lewis (TE)

While Lewis still shows flashes of strong play at times, he hasn’t produced even close to his cap figure for the past 3 seasons in Jacksonville. At $8.25 million, he enters 2014 with the Jaguars 2nd highest cap hit, and 2nd of any TE in the NFL. The Jaguars may not need the space, but releasing Lewis clears $6.85M.

Kansas City Chiefs – Joe McKnight (RB)

Kansas City cleared plenty of over-valued contracts earlier this year, and have yet to address extensions to key players (QB Alex Smith, LB Justin Houston). In light of this, the Chiefs aren’t expected to make many more drastic moves in the next few months. McKnight certainly seems like the odd man out in the running back rotation with Jamaal Charles, Kniles Davis, and newly drafted weapon De’Anthony Thomas in the mix. He carries a $645,000 contract with no dead money.

Miami Dolphins – Michael Egnew (TE)

He’s barely found the field in two full NFL seasons with the Dolpins, and has clearly been surpassed by breakout TE Charles Clay. His $742,239 2014 cap is nothing to gawk about, but the $595k in cleared space will come in handy should the Dolphins need to rebuild in 2015.

Minnesota Vikings – Christian Ponder (QB)

It makes $0 in financial sense to make this move (barring a trade), as all of Ponder’s $3,232,313 cap figure is guaranteed, but it seems likely that this is a move both parties will need to make this offseason. Ponder certainly has shown signs of compete in his 3 NFL seasons, but his time to prove his long-term value to the franchise has assumingly come and gone. He’ll have no trouble latching onto a team at a lower price-tag should this move be made.

New England Patriots – Patrick Chung (S)

Signed away from the Eagles this April, Chung comes back to Patriots as a depth fill to the secondary. With just $60,000 in guaranteed money (signing bonus), it’s not a financial strain to cut him loose should he struggle to supplant a backup role.

New Orleans Saints – Patrick Robinson (CB)

The former #32 overall pick in 2010, Robinson is projected to be a depth-fill to the Saints secondary in 2014. His $2.8M cap figure may be too rich for his role, especially with the Saints close to the cap-ceiling heading into July. He’ll clear $1.35M with his release.

New York Giants – James Brewer (G)

Brewer doesn’t have the skill to be a starting guard nor the versatility to be a flexible depth option for the Giants. He carries a $758,023 cap into his final contract year, and can clear $650,000 with a release.

New York Jets – Mike Goodson (RB)

It doesn’t cost the Jets anything to carry Goodson as a camp back until the end of the offseason, but it’s highly likely they part ways before the final roster is set. He’s faced legal troubles, suspensions, and has been replaced four times over with Chris Johnson, Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory, and Alex Green. He also clears $1 million in cap space when cut loose.

Oakland Raiders – Kevin Burnett (LB)

The Raiders bolstered their defensive front this offseason by acquiring Justin Tuck (NYG), Antonio Smith (HOU), Pat Sims (CIN), and of course selected Khalil Mack. In addition, the linebacking core actually improved in 2013, bumping Kevin Burnett and his $4.142 million 2014 cap figure down the depth chart. His release clears $3.5 million in cap.

Philadelphia Eagles – Casey Matthews (LB)

Matthews has little to no role in the Eagles’ current defensive structure, making him simply a special teams asset. His role was increased in 2013 due to injury, and should make him a strong case for a release out of camp. He’ll clear $645k should they do so.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Sean Spence (LB)

Spence will attempt to return from a major injury in 2013. The Steelers have made it clear he’ll get a shot to compete in camp, but it’s possible they move on from his risky situation shortly thereafter. He carries a $726,435 cap into his 3rd NFL season, and can be let go for $136,345 over each of the next two seasons.

San Diego Chargers – Jonas Mouton (LB)

The former 2nd round pick has slowly fallen into a third string role over his 3 NFL seasons in San Diego. While it’s possible for him to beat out veterans Kavell Connor, and Reggie Walker his $984,477 cap prices higher than both. He’ll likely need a strong showing to keep himself in the running.

San Francisco 49ers - Adam Snyder (G)

The 49ers utility lineman in 2013, Snyder actually handled his own fairly well. But San Francisco added strong depth to their line this offseason in Jonathan and Marcus Martin. The $1.3 million cap figure for Snyder may price him out of a job this offseason, clearing $1.05 million should he be released.

Seattle Seahawks – Terrelle Pryor (QB)

He certainly fits the Seahawks current offensive mold, but all signs point to Tarvaris Jackson winning out the backup role behind Wilson (especially with a fully guaranteed $1.25M contract). It’s possible this is the end of the road for Pryor in the NFL. It costs the Seahawks nothing to cut him loose.

St. Louis Rams – Isaiah Pead (RB)

3 months ago I was typed Sam Bradford into this spot without blinking. But the Rams did nothing to bring in a QB to even compete for the starting role in 2014. This being said, the running back pool in St. Louis has gotten surprisingly deep, and the odd man out appears to be former 2nd round pick Isaiah Pead, who had just 7 attempts in 2013. His $1.1 million cap figure for 2014 stands to be overpriced, and the Rams will clear $757,100 with his release.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Da’Quan Bowers (DE)

Bowers seems to be a “Lovie” type player. But reports out of Tampa Bay say his conditioning and current production isn’t near where they want it to be thus far. He’ll certainly get a camp to make this better, but should the Buccaneers move on they’ll clear $900,768 from his $1.226 million cap figure.

Tennessee Titans – Patrick Bailey (LB)

He’s been a special teams asset at best over the past 4 seasons with the Titans, and his $1.3 million cap figure for 2014 seems mighty high for this type of role. Tennessee can clear $1.2 million of it by releasing him this offseason.

Washington Redskins – Logan Paulsen (TE)

He was rated 61st among tight ends in 2013 according to PFF, and his $2.23 million cap figure stands way too high for a potential 3rd-string player. The Redskins can clear $1.87 million in 2014 by releasing him.

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Current Financial Value: Marshawn Lynch

June 12th, 2014

USATSI_7642124_160074578_lowresMarshawn Lynch is asking for a new contract in Seattle. | USA Today

It’s that special time of year when some veteran NFL players come forward with gripes and concerns over their current contracts. We’ve recently heard from 49ers TE, and recently IPO’ed Vernon Davis, who claims that his 2nd highest annual average salary makes him underpaid in the league.

And now we’re beginning to hear rumblings from the Seahawks camp that running back Marshawn Lynch isn’t pleased with his current pay a well. We’ll take a look at Lynch’s current pay structure, and shed a little light toward what his current value may be in terms of a restructured contract going forward.


Lynch’s Current Contract

While Lynch’s current deal holds an average annual salary of $7.5 million, the $13 million in cash remaining through 2015 leaves him with $6.5 million per year – well paid, but 9th most among active running backs.
Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 9.28.03 AMLynchs’ current contract ends in 2015.

His $7 million cap figure for 2014 ranks 6th among running backs, and the $9 million hit for 2015 ranks 3rd. His $3 million in dead money (cap cost to be released or traded) rank 14th, a fairly low figure for a back of his worth. It’s a smart time for Lynch to at least be knockin on the door for a new deal – as all of the pieces are in place to do so. We’ll evaluate his production below to assess a new value.


Production Analysis

Over the last 2 seasons, Lynch averages out to the #4th best rated running back according to Pro Football Focus. His impact and importance to the Seahawks offense isn’t a secret, and at age 28, and with minimal injuries over the course of his hard-hitting career, it’s safe to assume that Lynch can still provide top value in Seattle for a number of years down the road.

The problem with increasing Lynch’s annual salary (to be closer to the likes of the Petersons and McCoys), comes with his lack of a receiving game. Lynch has been targeted out of the backfield just 2.29 times a game since 2012, nearly half the average targets of Peterson, Forte, Gore, D. Williams, Foster, and McCoy prior to their new contracts. In fact, Lynch’s receiving numbers across the board are significantly lower than our target running backs in recent years, as shown below.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 9.51.13 AMReceiving Stat Comparisons for Top Running Backs

In terms of the rushing game, Lynch matches up extremely well (as you might imagine). He’s inline with, or better than all of our target backs, with the exception of fumbles – where Lynch appears to be lacking control.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 9.56.19 AMRushing Stat Comparisons for Top Running Backs


Financial Projection

All this being said, a quick forecast for Marshawn Lynch (using Spotrac’s projection formula), shows that Lynch might actually be due a bit of a raise. Our adjusted figures come out to a 3 year $25.7 million extension for the 28 year old, an average of $8.6M per year. With just $3 million in dead money currently, un-allocated signing bonus from the previous deal, it would make sense for the Seahawks to hand Lynch a sizeable signing bonus, giving him cash in hand, and pro-rating the majority of this $26 million across a total of 5 years, for cap management purposes.

The $8.6 million annual average would place Lynch 4th on this list, still behind Peterson, McCoy, and Foster – but rightfully so based on their ability to be utilized more in the passing game. While it’s not necessary to touch Lynch’s deal at all – reducing his $7 million cap figure in 2014, and $9 million cap for 2015 might be useful to the Seahawks going forward.


Related: Seattle Seahawks Contracts



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Evaluating Full Guarantees in NFL Contracts

June 11th, 2014

One of the more carelessly reported figures surrounding new NFL contracts is the “guaranteed dollars” associated with the deal. For many years this was a cut and dry process, as signing bonuses generally made up the majority of guarantees a player would receive throughout a contract. But the modern contract has a number of ways to get player cash in hands quickly and without many conditions.

The recent extension to Colin Kaeprnick isn’t unique in the sense of maximum dollars – or even upfront money. But, staying true to the 49ers standards in contract structuring, the “pay as you go” combined with a heavy set of conditions probably raised a few eyebrows to teams across the league who are looking to lock in their franchise players with a little less risk in the long-term.

In light of this, we’ll take a look at a list of free agent signings and extensions over the past few months with at least 5 year lengths. We’ll assess the total contract value, the amount of cash to be earned in the first three years of the deal, the maximum amount of fully guaranteed dollars available (if all conditions are met), and the fully guaranteed dollars available at the time of signing.

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