In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Performance Based Value” number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2012. You can read about the work we’ve done to create it here, but in short:
• It’s solely about what a player did on the field in 2012
• Players are grouped by positions so their play essentially earns them a portion of the positional salary pool
• It’s all about cap hits (these values are approximate)
Here are the teams that got more value for their players than they spent, and the teams that got the least value for their players compared to what they spent. It is worth noting that the 2012 Cap Hit numbers of a team may not match other reports — we are not including players who carried a cap hit but spent zero games as an active/inactive player due to injury or release.
1. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers got a ridiculous amount of value for the money they spent in 2012. They had seven key players that were undervalued by over $5 million, with an additional eight that were over $1 million. When you compare that to just six players who were overvalued by a million or more, you have a franchise that is doing something very right. It will make for an interesting situation when they need to figure out who stays and who goes once a lot of these players reach their second contract.
2012 Cap Hit: $130.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $190.2m
Value Differential: +$59.4m
2. New England Patriots
The Patriots have been known for getting the most out of their players and 2012 was no different. The list of undervalued players includes guys like Brandon Spikes, Ryan Wendell and Alfonzo Dennard, some of whom the casual fan has probably not heard of. Like the 49ers, they excelled at keeping the overvalued players to a minimum. Only six were overvalued by more than $1 million, which included two players who missed time with an injury and special-teamer Matt Slater who gets hurt in this system for not playing enough on offense.
2012 Cap Hit: $100.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $133.8m
Value Differential: +$33.0m
3. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks make this list in large part due to their young talent. Their six most undervalued players are all within their first three years in the NFL and are on rookie contracts paying them less than $800k each. There are only seven players in the league that this system shows as undervalued by $10 millions dollars or more — Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman are two of them.
2012 Cap Hit: $110.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $143.4m
Value Differential: +$32.8m
4. Denver Broncos
When you think of why the Broncos were so good in 2012, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Peyton Manning. While he played a huge role, that’s not why the Broncos are so high on this list. The Broncos, like the rest of the Top 5, received great value from some young players headlined by Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris. However, they were also able to get some nice value from players who have been in the league for at least four years, like Wesley Woodyard, Ryan Clady, and Jabob Tamme. Throw in getting great value from veterans like Justin Bannan and Brandon Stokley, and you easily overcome the effect of some overvalued players.
2012 Cap Hit: $122.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $152.7m
Value Differential: +$30.4m
5. Houston Texans
The primary factor that sets the Texans apart and puts them in this spot is J.J. Watt — the most undervalued player in the league. The other reason is because their overvalued list doesn’t look all that bad: it isn’t very long and the players on it are mostly good players who just didn’t play quiet as well as the Texans would like. On most teams we’ve seen multiple players who are paid well but played very poorly — Houston doesn’t have that issue.
2012 Cap Hit: $103.9m
2012 Performance Based Value: $130.4m
Value Differential: +$26.4m
6. Dallas Cowboys – Cap: $100.3m, PBV: $118.7m, Value Differential: +$18.4m
7. Indianapolis Colts – Cap: $82.9m, PBV: $98.5m, Value Differential: +$15.6m
8. Minnesota Vikings – Cap: $103.4m, PBV: $112.0m, Value Differential: +$8.6m
9. Green Bay Packers – Cap: $109.7m, PBV: $117.2m, Value Differential: +$7.6m
10. Oakland Raiders – Cap: $90.3m, PBV: $97.0m, Value Differential: +$6.6m
11. Cincinnati Bengals – Cap: $110.5m, PBV: $117.0m, Value Differential: +$6.4m
12. Miami Dolphins – Cap: $107.5m, PBV: $113.6m, Value Differential: +$6.1m
13. Tennessee Titans – Cap: $103.3m, PBV: $104.0m, Value Differential: +$0.7m
14. Washington Redskins – Cap: $104.0m, PBV: $104.1m, Value Differential: +$0.1m
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars had a terrible ratio of six players undervalued by at least $1 million compared to 16 who were overvalued by a million or more. Of the 163 players that our Performance Based Value system marked as worth $5.4 million dollars or more in 2012, not one of them played for the Jaguars. It certainly didn’t help that their best skill player on offense in Maurice Jones-Drew and best player on defense in Daryl Smith played in a combined eight games in 2012.
2012 Cap Hit: $111.9m
2012 Performance Based Value: $74.6m
Value Differential: -$37.3m
2. New York Jets
The Jets suffered a similar problem as the Jaguars when they lost Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes early on. By letting go of Calvin Pace, Bart Scott and Jason Smith, New York has already done a lot to try and get themselves off this list in 2013, but it doesn’t help that David Harris and Mark Sanchez remain on the roster. Outside of Muhammad Wilkerson, their list of undervalued players wasn’t all that impressive, so while they can lower their future cap hit, they still need to find young talent to replenish the roster.
2012 Cap Hit: $124.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $92.4m
Value Differential: -$32.2m
3. Kansas City Chiefs
While the Chiefs certainly have some undervalued talent, especially at linebacker and the offensive line, their long list of overvalued players was too much to overcome. Ten percent of the players in the NFL that were overvalued by $5 million or more came from the Kansas City roster. The list of overvalued players include many who could very well be gone next year, but that doesn’t help the fact that Tamba Hali had a down year and Eric Berry’s contract is ridiculous due to the old rookie wage scale.
2012 Cap Hit: $132.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $102.0m
Value Differential: -$30.0m
4. Arizona Cardinals
On one hand, the Cardinals have a lot of undervalued young players on defense that should be around for years to come. On the other, the lack of a passing game killed the team’s Performance Based Value. An injury to Kevin Kolb made him one of the most overvalued quarterbacks and left no one to throw the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, in turn making him the most overvalued skill player. Another two tight ends and two wide receivers were overvalued by more than $1 million, which didn’t help either.
2012 Cap Hit: $109.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $85.8m
Value Differential: -$23.7m
5. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are another case where the passing game was their downfall in Performance Based Value. While Rivers was excellent when he wasn’t under pressure, he crumpled when he was. When your quarterback isn’t doing well, your receivers aren’t either, which meant free agent pickups Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, as well as an aging Antonio Gates were high on the list too. If that can be fixed, their undervalued players list doesn’t look half bad.
2012 Cap Hit: $107.7m
2012 Performance Based Value: $92.5m
Value Differential: -$15.2m
6. St. Louis Rams – Cap: $107.2m, PBV: $92.0m, Value Differential: -$15.1m
7. Detroit Lions – Cap: $120.7m, PBV: $110.1m, Value Differential: -$10.5m
8. Carolina Panthers – Cap: $114.5m, PBV: $104.8m, Value Differential: -$9.7m
9. Philadelphia Eagles – Cap: $104.6m, PBV: $95.9m, Value Differential: -$8.7m
10. New Orleans Saints – Cap: $109.7m, PBV: $101.8m, Value Differential: -$7.9m
11. Baltimore Ravens – Cap: $111.2m, PBV: $105.8m, Value Differential: -$5.3m
12. Chicago Bears – Cap: $122.3m, PBV: $117.4m, Value Differential: -$5.0m
13. New York Giants – Cap: $113.1m, PBV: $108.8m, Value Differential: -$4.3m
14. Atlanta Falcons – Cap: $118.3m, PBV: $115.7m, Value Differential: -$2.6m
15. Cleveland Browns – Cap: $103.9m, PBV: $101.5m, Value Differential: -$2.5m
16. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cap: $111.8m, PBV: $109.4m, Value Differential: -$2.3m
17. Buffalo Bills – Cap: $112.6m, PBV: $111.8m, Value Differential: -$0.8m
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cap: $125.3m, PBV: $124.7m, Value Differential: -$0.6m
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