In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into 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 Green Bay Packers:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Eddie Lacy, Halfback
Lacy quickly proved to be the workhorse running back the Packers lacked the last few years. He forced 56 missed tackles on the ground, fourth-most among running backs, which contributed to his high level of play that carried the Packers into the playoffs. Lacy also excelled at pass blocking with just three pressures allowed, proving to be an every-down back. Lacy’s Jahnke Value Model more than doubled the entire value of his four-year rookie contract, so the Packers are set to gain a lot of value over the next few years provided that he stays healthy.
2013 Cap Hit: $600k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $7.9m
Value Differential: +$7.3m
2. Mike Daniels, Defensive End
The 2013 season was a breakout year for the second-year pro Daniels. Despite being a role player who played less than half of Green Bay’s defensive snaps, he managed to earn the sixth-highest overall grade among all 3-4 defensive ends. His production as a pass rusher was the most impressive part of his game, finishing the season in the Top 10 of our Pass Rushing Productivity metric at his position. Daniels still has two years left on his rookie contract but a nice payday could be in store if he continues to develop like he has thus far.
2013 Cap Hit: $600k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.2m
Value Differential: +$4.6m
3. Jordy Nelson, Wide Receiver
Somehow Nelson still doesn’t get enough recognition for how good he has become even after having the best season of his career. His career-high +24.7 overall grade ranked second among all wideouts despite playing eight games without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Nelson enters the final year of his current contract with a $4.4 million cap number and will be due for an extension. Anything less than a $7-million-per-year average would currently put him outside the Top 20 highest-paid wide receivers.
2013 Cap Hit: $4m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $8.4m
Value Differential: +$4.4m
4. Evan Dietrich-Smith, C – Cap: $1.3m, JVM: $4.2m, Value Differential: +$2.9m
5. Micah Hyde, CB – Cap: $400k, JVM: $2.7m, Value Differential: +$2.3m
6. Jarrett Boykin, WR – Cap: $500k, JVM: $2.8m, Value Differential: +$2.3m
7. Randall Cobb, WR* – Cap: $900k, JVM: $3.1m, Value Differential: +$2.2m
8. Scott Tolzien, QB – Cap: $400k, JVM: $1.9m, Value Differential: +$1.5m
9. James Starks, HB – Cap: $700k, JVM: $2.1m, Value Differential: +$1.4m
10. Josh Sitton, LG – Cap: $5.6m, JVM: $6.6m, Value Differential: +$1.1m
1. Jermichael Finley, Tight End*
It’s tough to live up to any contract when playing roughly only four and a half games, and even more difficult with the second-highest cap number for the position. Finley’s neck injury cut short a season that had potential to be his best yet. He had five or more receptions in four different games and managed a position-best 9.5 Yards After Catch. Still, Finley probably would not have reached his $8.7 million cap hit when only two tight ends’ value eclipsed $7 million. There have been positive reports about his spinal fusion surgery and a return to football, but it will be interesting to see what Finley is offered as a free agent this offseason given his injury situation.
2013 Cap Hit: $8.7m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.3m
Value Differential: -$7.4m
2. B.J. Raji, Defensive End
Raji looks nothing like the forceful player we saw toward the end of the 2010 season. It would have been difficult for him to have any less of an impact last season after ranking 38th in Run Stop Percentage and 42nd in Pass Rushing Productivity out of 45 3-4 defensive ends. Remarkably, he produced fewer quarterback pressures in the entire 2013 season than he did in the four games of the 2010 playoffs. It seems the Packers made the correct decision last offseason to not extend his contract and his inconsistency is sure to affect his negotiations as a free agent this offseason.
2013 Cap Hit: $6.6m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $700k
Value Differential: -$5.9m
3. Ryan Pickett, Nose Tackle
Pickett did not play quite as poorly as his position here may suggest considering that he played slightly above average against the run with a +2.6 run grade. He has never been much of a pass rusher, though, and he was nearly non-existent this season with the second-lowest Pass Rushing Productivity among interior linemen. His lack of impact, coupled with the amount of playing time he received, couldn’t justify his large cap hit.
2013 Cap Hit: $6.7m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $900k
Value Differential: -$5.8m
4. Tramon Williams, CB – Cap: $8.5m, JVM: $2.9m, Value Differential: -$5.6m
5. Clay Matthews, OLB* – Cap: $6.7m, JVM: $2m, Value Differential: -$4.7m
6. A.J. Hawk, ILB – Cap: $5.2m, JVM: $800k, Value Differential: -$4.4m
7. Morgan Burnett, S – Cap: $3.2m, JVM: $600k, Value Differential: -$2.6m
8. Brad Jones, ILB – Cap: $2.5m, JVM: $700k, Value Differential: -$1.8m
9. James Jones, WR – Cap: $3.8m, JVM: $2m, Value Differential: -$1.8m
10. Aaron Rodgers, QB* – Cap: $12m, JVM: $10.2m, Value Differential: -$1.8m
Summary – Team Value Differential: -$21.6m
The Packers were able to get great value from several young players still on rookie contracts. Even as one of the best cap-managed teams, a couple significant injuries and below-average play on defense heavily outweighed the undervalued players. The good news for Green Bay is that their three most-overvalued players are free agents. The bad news is that they will need elite performances from Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, and Tramon Williams to earn their combined cap number of over $38 million.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @PFF_MattC