Chris Phillips gives an overview of the cornerbacks who exceeded and failed to meet their contract values for the 2013 NFL campaign.
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 Cornerbacks:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals
If it weren’t for Mathieu’s injury in Week 14, he could have possibly been the Defensive Rookie of the Year. No cornerback in 2013 made such a strong impact in all phases of the game. He had a grade of +2.0 or better in all areas; pass rushing, coverage, run support, and penalties. With Mathieu being such a late round steal we look forward to seeing him on this list for the next year or two provided he retains his speed off the knee injury.
2013 Cap Hit: $550k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $14.4m
Value Differential: +$13.9m
2. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts
Vontae Davis was PFF’s 3rd highest graded corner in 2013 for the regular season. His +12.8 coverage grade ranked 2nd and he also only allowed 50% of passes thrown his way to be completed. The Colts seem intent on letting Davis test the market. After most likely getting a big raise, we might not be seeing Davis on this undervalued list next year.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.87m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $11.7m
Value Differential: +$9.83m
3. Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos
Harris was having a fantastic 2013 up until he tore his ACL in the AFC divisional playoff game. In 2012 he took over for Champ Bailey as Denver’s most solid corner and in 2013 he solidified that stance. Our 9th rated cornerback, he allowed only a 64.9 QB rating when thrown at in the regular season. Harris also performed equally as well in the slot allowing only one reception for every 11 snaps in coverage. With Harris most likely receiving a restricted free agent tender, he will be a financial steal again next year.
2013 Cap Hit: $561k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $9.6m
Value Differential: +$9m
4. Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins
Brent Grimes rebounded from his 2012 injury in a big way. Our 2nd rated corner overall did not allow a single touchdown pass last year, this despite being thrown at 98 times (about a top ten rate). After just getting a one year $5 million dollar “prove it” deal last year, Grimes will most likely not be on this list next year as his new 4 year deal with the Dolphins should pay him about $8 million per year annually.
2013 Cap Hit: $5m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $14.2m
Value Differential: +$8.7m
5. Brandon Boykin, Philadelphia Eagles
Surprisingly, the top PFF coverage grade of 2013 went to Brandon Boykin of the Eagles. His +14.3 grade along with his 6 picks cemented his breakout year. He heads into year three of his deal, and as a 3rd round pick shouldn’t see too much of a pay hike. Expect one of the better young corners in the game to be on this list again next year.
2013 Cap Hit: $587k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $8.8m
Value Differential: +$8.2m
6. Richard Sherman, SEA – Cap: $606k; JVM: $8.1M; Value Differential: +$7.5m
7. Captain Munnerlyn, CAR – Cap: $1.1M; JVM: $7.1m; Value Differential: +$6.0m
8. Desmond Trufant, ATL – Cap: $1.49M; JVM: $7.1M; Value Differential: +$5.7m
9. William Gay, PIT – Cap: $1.2M; JVM; $6.1M; Value Differential: +$5.0m
10. Byron Maxwell, SEA – Cap: $589k; JVM: $5.38M; Value Differential: +$4.8m
1. Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis Rams
Finnegan had a 2013 to forget as his -19.7 overall grade ranked 109th out of 110 cornerbacks. His -8.3 run grade was easily the worst. Throw in the 136 QB rating he allowed and 76.5% completion percentage and he might have arguably been the worst corner in the league last year (yes, we are aware of his eye injury). Unfortunately for the Rams, Finnegan is due $10 million again in 2014 and to make matters worse, they would only save $4 million of that by cutting him. Without a large improvement, he will top this list again next year.
2013 Cap Hit: $15m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $516k
Value Differential: -$14.6m
2. Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos
Injuries and age have put a few corners on this list and Champ Bailey wasn’t able to escape that fate. He spent most of the year banged up and when he did get healthy for the stretch playoff run, the results were mixed. He was unable to make any big plays and allowed a 93.8 QB rating when thrown at. With Denver looking to bring back both Harris Jr. and Rodgers-Cromartie look for Bailey’s cap hit to be less than half of what it is now (in Denver or elsewhere).
2013 Cap Hit: $10.8m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $925k
Value Differential: -$9.8m
3. Jonathan Joseph, Houston Texans
Jonathan Joseph didn’t necessarily play that badly in 2013. His problem was just trying to live up to his large contract and monstrous $11.3 million cap hit. Overall, he ranked in our top 25 cornerbacks and his 48% catch rate allowed is a top five mark. Joseph’s cap number does drop to around $7.5 million this year and that could help him to slide off this list.
2013 Cap Hit: $11.3m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $3.3m
Value Differential: -$7.9m
4. Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears
Tillman was also a victim of age and injury in 2013. He was banged up when on the field, all the way up until the Bears shut him down in Week 11. Arguably the best cornerback in football for the 2012 season, Tillman should still have some life left. Look for him to sign a team friendly one to two year deal, make a big short term impact, and clear his name from this list.
2013 Cap Hit: $8m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $520k
Value Differential: -$7.48m
5. Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ike Taylor saw his coverage grade fall from +4.0 in 2012 to -14.1 in 2013. His coverage grade by itself simply ranked 105th out of 110 corners. The 1,043 yards he allowed in coverage were the most in the league. He also gave up six touchdown passes and failed to even grab one interception. Taylor is now 33 and could now be on the downside of his career. With Taylor’s cap number still looming large in 2014, look for the cap weary Steelers to part ways with the veteran.
2013 Cap Hit: $7.97m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $925k
Value Differential: -$7m
6. Carlos Rogers, SF – Cap: $7.34M; JVM: $979k; Value Differential: -$6.37m
7. Brandon Flowers, KC – Cap: $6.6M; JVM: $700k; Value Differential: -$5.9m
8. Antonio Cromartie, NYJ – Cap: $6.52M; JVM: $825k; Value Differential: -$5.7m
9. Tramon Williams, GB – Cap: $8.5M; JVM: $2.86M; Value Differential: -$5.65m
10. Asante Samuel, ATL – Cap: $5.7M; JVM: $925k; Value Differential: -$4.78m
You can follow Chris on Twitter: @PFF_CPhillips