Contract Valuation: Cam Heyward

Contract Valuation: Cam Heyward
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Contract Valuation: Cam Heyward

The Steelers generally do things on their own terms, and they wasted no time in locking down one of their own Thursday, signing DE Cameron Heyward to a 6 year $59.2 million extension. We'll take a reverse approach to our general forecasting process, plugging Heyward into our formula to see how the new contract fairs in terms of calculated value.
Comparable Defensive Ends

We've located four defensive ends of similar age and production who signed contracts in recent years. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.

Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
J.J. Watt  6 $100,005,425 $16,667,571 25
Mario Williams 6 $96,000,000 $16,000,000 27
Corey Liuget 5 $51,250,000 $10,250,000 25
Calais Campbell  5 $55,000,000 $11,000,000 25
Averages 5 $75,563,856 $13,479,393 25.75

Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.

View the list of Top Average Paid Defensive Tackles in the NFL

Because Heyward (26) is younger/older than some of our variables were at the time of their signings, we'll adjust the above contracts down to his age by adding to their overall years to make each variable player 26 years old. Once a linear regression is performed on these new numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:

Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
6 $80,876,356 $13,479,393

Statistical Analyzations, Prime Percentage

Now let's analyze these players statistically in the year prior to signing their second contract by showing Games Played, Sacks, Tackles, Solo Stops, and QB Hurries.

Player Games SAcks Tackles Stops
J.J. Watt (2012-13, HOU) 16 15.5 67 69.5
Mario Williams (2010-11, HOU) 14.5 10.5 19.5 28
Calais Campbell (2010-11, ARI) 16 7 49 42.5
Corey Liuget (2013-14, SD) 16 5.5 38 24.5
Averages 15.625 9.625 43.375 41.125
Cameron Heyward  (2013-14, PIT) 16 6.5 35 27.5
% Difference 2.4% -32.47% -19.31% -33.13%
MEDIAN PRIME % -25.89%

Heyward seems to be producing in the ballpark of Liuget and Campbell, but is quite a bit behind the likes of Watt (as all are). We'll carry through his Median and Average Prime Percentages into our formula below.

Guaranteed Money

Heyward has been both consistent, and reliable since joining the Steelers in 2011, no concern in terms of guaranteed money.

Player Value True Guarantees % Guaranteed
J.J. Watt  $100,005,425 $51,876,000 51.87%
Mario Williams  $96,000,000 $31,400,000 32.71%
Calais Campbell  $55,000,000 $17,000,000 30.91%
Corey Liuget $51,250,000 $30,477,000 59.47%
Adjusted Regression 40%


Length of the Contract
Our base figures average out to just north of 5 years. At 26 years old, and with recent 6 year deals for major pass rushers already locked down, it makes sense that the Steelers signed Heyward through the year 2020.

Value of the Contract
Our base contract figures provided a deal averaging just under $13.5M per season, well above Heyward's statistical value. When including our prime percentages (both of which he achieved negative values for), we're given the following:

Spotrac's Valuation: 6 years, $59,937,468
  •  Average annual salary: $9,989,578
  •  Guaranteed: $18,000,000 (31%)
Final Thoughts
As you can see, our calculated forecast nearly matches the deal the Steelers and Heyward agreed on, once again proving that teams can find value with long-term contracts if they get out in front of the situation. As the great Andrew Brandt frequently says, deadlines spur actions, and by actions here, we mean added dollars. While the guaranteed portion of Heyward's actual deal has yet to be confirmed, we've heard that the initial bonus appears to be around the $15M mark, meaning it's perfectly likely that a fully guaranteed $3-4M 2015 salary will also be included. In all likelihood, the Steelers valued Heyward in a similar fashion here, realizing he's a Top 5 3-4 defensive end right now, and should be paid accordingly.

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