In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is exploring the value of players. To us it’s a ‘Jahnke Value Model’ number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2013. 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 2013
• 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 2013′s most undervalued and overvalued Cleveland Browns:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. T.J. Ward, Safety
In 2013 Ward reached the end of his rookie contract and has established himself as one of the best strong safeties in the game. He had 29 stops in run defense which was five more than any other safety. Unfortunately for Cleveland, the only way they can bring Ward back to the roster for 2014 is at a cap value that more closely matches his quality of play.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.2m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $7.6m
Value Differential: +$6.4m
2. Josh Gordon, Wide Receiver
The surprise isn’t that Gordon made this list but that he isn’t higher. While he had arguably the best two-game stretch from a receiver, he also missed two games and was ineffective in others. Lucky for Cleveland, Gordon is under contract for two more years at a small cap value. His production should hopefully only improve with experience and more consistent quarterback play. If I were a betting man, I would put money Gordon tops this list for Cleveland in 2014.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.1m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $6.6m
Value Differential: +$5.5m
3. Mitchell Schwartz, Right Tackle
Schwartz continues the trend of the Browns finding a lot of value out of their second-round picks. He rebounded from a rough start of the season to have a positive overall grade in each of his last nine games. Over that span he allowed an average of just over one pressure per game. He has been amongst the Browns’ three most overvalued players the last two years and with his low rookie contract, his streak could be extended to four consecutive years.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.2m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $6.3m
Value Differential: +$4.6m
4. John Hughes, DE – Cap: $600k, JVM: $4.0m, Value Differential: +$3.4m
5. John Greco, LG – Cap: $2.1m, JVM: $4.6m, Value Differential: +$2.5m
6. Jabaal Sheard, OLB – Cap: $1.4m, JVM: $3.7m, Value Differential: +$2.3m
7. Jordan Cameron, TE – Cap: $700k, JVM: $3.0m, Value Differential: +$2.3m
8. Alex Mack, C – Cap: $5.0m, JVM: $7.3m, Value Differential: +$2.3m
9. Brian Hoyer, QB – Cap: $700k, JVM: $2.6m, Value Differential: +$1.9m
10. Billy Cundiff, K – Cap: $600k, JVM: $2.3m, Value Differential: +$1.7m
1. Desmond Bryant, Defensive Linemen*
Late in the 2012 season Bryant all of the sudden became an excellent pass rusher which led to a big contract by Cleveland. After a strong start to the year he slowed down and was held without a sack from Week 4 on. He ended the season early and ended up as nothing better than an average starter in his 588 snaps. His contract was set up in a way that if this keeps up, the Browns could cut their losses after the season.
2013 Cap Hit: $7.9m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.1m
Value Differential: -$6.8m
2. D’Qwell Jackson, Inside Linebacker
As recently as 2011, Jackson was one of the better inside linebackers in the game. Then he got paid like he was one of the best and his play declined significantly. His Run Stop Percentage of 5.9% in 2013 was fourth worst of the 40 qualifying inside/middle linebackers. In contrast, in 2011 he was making run stops nearly twice as often at 10.2%. Unless something changes it would make sense for the Browns to cut their losses as his cap number exceeds $9.0m in each of the next three seasons.
2013 Cap Hit: $6.4m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $800k
Value Differential: -$5.6m
3. Ahtyba Rubin, Defensive End
Rubin continues the trend of the overpaid defensive players. The six defensive players with the highest cap number for the Browns in 2014 also happen to be the six defensive players with the worst value differential in 2013. Rubin is one of the better interior defensive linemen against the run, but his problem is he was in on 330 pass rushes and only managed 12 pressures on the season. In contrast, someone like Ndamukong Suh had 15 pressures over his first 67 pass rushes of the season.
2013 Cap Hit: $7.6m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $2.1m
Value Differential: -$5.5m
4. Paul Kruger, OLB – Cap: $8.2m, JVM: $4.1m, Value Differential: -$4.1m
5. Joe Haden, CB– Cap: $9.1m, JVM: $5.5m, Value Differential: $-3.6m
6. Trent Richardson, HB – Cap: $3.5m, JVM: $100k, Value Differential: -$3.4m
7. Barkevious Mingo, OLB – Cap: $3.0m, JVM: $500k, Value Differential: -$2.5m
8. Davone Bess, WR – Cap: $2.5m, JVM: $600k, Value Differential: -$1.9m
9. Quintin Groves, OLB* – Cap: $1.3m, JVM: $600k, Value Differential: -$700k
10. Shawn Lauvao, RG – Cap: $1.5m, JVM: $900k, Value Differential: -$600k
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$3.2m
This year the Browns were very average in terms of their value, but they were able to find a lot of value from recent drafts which helped them. Things aren’t looking as good for the future as they’ve invested a lot of money in underperforming players on defense. Two of their undervalued players are two of the biggest free agents this season so they won’t be anywhere near as undervalued next season. It will be interesting to see if they can get more value out of their talent on defense in 2014.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke