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Contract Forecast: Justin Houston

Contract Forecast: Justin Houston
Untitled Document

Contract Forecast: Justin Houston

Justin Houston just finished 2014 with the kind of season that ranks him among the elite pass rushers of all-time. It just so happens that the 2014 season was also his contract year. His 22 sacks broke Derrick Thomas' team record of 20, and was a half sack away from the NFL season total record. In his first four seasons, he's compiled 48.5 sacks. His under the radar dominance will now come into full focus, as the Chiefs will most certainly look to get Houston under contract in the next few months - by way of a long-term extension, or the franchise tag. We'll run his impressive statistical production through our projection formula to analyze his value going forward.

Position Discrepancy
It should be noted that though Houston is technically listed as an outside linebacker in the Chiefs 3-4 defense, his style of play and position per snap does leave the possibility of a defensive end tag in question. The franchise tag for defensive ends is projected to be about $1.5M larger than that of linebackers for the 2015 season. In light of the discrepancy, we'll include BOTH defensive ends and outside linebackers in our equation here.
Comparable Linebackers/Defensive Ends
Houston will turn 26 in January, so we'll assume this age for our projections. 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
Calais Campbell 5 $55,000,000 $11,000,000 25
Mario Williams 6 $96,000,000 $16,000,000 27
Clay Matthews 5 $66,000,000 $13,200,000 27
Tamba Hali 5 $57,500,000 $11,500,000 28
Averages 5.5 $74,901,085 $13,673,514 26

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 Ends in the NFL

Because Houston (26) will be younger/older than some of our variable players were at the times of their signings, we'll adjust the above contracts up/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 $84,429,900 $13,665,159
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 Penalites.
Player Games SAcks Tackles Solo Stops
J.J. Watt (2012-13, HOU) 16 15.5 67 69.5
Calais Campbell (2010-11, ARI) 16 7 49 42.5
MarIo Williams (2009-10, HOU) 14.5 10.5 19.5 28
Clay Matthews (2011-12, GB) 14 9.5 36 36
Tamba Hali (2009-10, KC) 16 12.5 41 32.5
Averages 15.3 11 42.5 41.7
Justin Houston (2013-14, KC) 13.5 16.5 49.5 44
% Difference -11.76% 50.00% 16.47% 5.52%
Even with the mighty J.J. Watt included, Houston exceeds these variable averages across the board. He's a multi-faceted defensive rusher who has found a way to increase production each of his three seasons, and stay healthy. We'll factor his strong Prime Percentages into our previously determined base numbers.
Guaranteed Money
Houston missed 5 games in 2013 with a head/neck injury, but otherwise has been incredibly durable through his 4 NFL seasons.has He's shown the 3 major keys to earning himself a highly guaranteed contract: Production, Improvement, and Durability. A linear regression on the variable contracts used in this analyzation provides us with the percent of money Greg should receive as true guaranteed with this new extension.
Player Value True Guarantees % Guaranteed
J.J. Watt $100,005,425 $51,876,000 51.9%
Calais Campbell $55,000,000 $17,000,000 30.9%
Mario Williams $96,000,000 $31,400,000 32.7%
Clay Matthews $66,000,000 $23,610,000 35.8%
Tamba Hali $57,500,000 $35,000,000 60.9%
Adjusted Regression 46.7%

Length of the Contract
A 6 year contract extension will allow the Chiefs the ability to spread out both a signing bonus and an option bonus without allocating too much pro-rated money in any given year (similar to Mario Williams' structure).

Value of the Contract
Houston has increased productivity in every season, rounding off 2014 with one of the better seasons in NFL history. He'll be highly sought should he hit the market - but all signs point to the Chiefs doing anything possible to not let that happen. Our base value of $13.665M per season ranks him as the 4th highest average paid defensive end, and the top paid outside lineback in football. When factoring in our prime percentages, our final prediction becomes:

Spotrac's Prediction: 6 years, $92,670,276
  •  Average annual salary: $15,445,046
  •  Guaranteed: $48,976,579 (53%)