Michael Mountford covers those last line of defense players who exceeded their contracts for 2013 and those that stumbled in that same campaign.
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 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 Safeties:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
Devin McCourty has become one of the elite secondary players in the league as he is able to play at a high level at either safety or cornerback position. With the highest graded safety (+18.7) still playing on his rookie contract, it should come as no surprise that he is most undervalued safety in the league. Unless New England can give McCourty a new deal this offseason, expect to see him return to the most undervalued safeties list next season
2013 Cap Hit: $1.9m
2013 Performance Based Value: $9.8m
Value Differential: +$7.9m
2. Will Hill, New York Giants
Will Hill is one of the biggest surprise players from 2013 as no one saw the level of play he performed at last season. In 2012 Hill went undrafted out of Florida, however that did not stop him from playing 200+ snaps as a rookie for the Giants. In 2013 he took a big leap forward, starting in Week 5 and entrenching himself as one of the starting safeties from Week 8 on. Hill was the second-highest graded safety last season, due to his excellent work in pass coverage finishing with a quarterback rating of 62.0 when thrown at. 2014 will be the last season under his current contract, if he performs at a high level next season, he will be back on this list and also be looking to get a big payday.
2013 Cap Hit: $400k
2013 Performance Based Value: $8.0m
Value Differential: +$7.6m
3. T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns
Since entering the league in 2010, T.J. Ward has continued to improve in each season. Ward has shown that he is one of the best run defenders at safety in the game, however, over the past two seasons he has managed to become a good player in coverage. With Ward entering free agency he will be in line to be paid as one of the better safeties in the league.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.2m
2013 Performance Based Value: $7.6m
Value Differential: +$6.4m
4. Robert Lester, Carolina Panthers
Robert Lester is the second undrafted safety to make the list, but unlike Hill, Lester has not played as one of the top five safeties in the league. However, he has shown he is a valuable player, who can be relied on to make an impact. With Lester still learning it would not be a shock if he is the opening day starter of the Panthers and improves from his +2.9 grade from last season. It would be a good bet to think that Lester will be another player who is on this list next season, since he is due to make $500,000 next season.
2013 Cap Hit: $400k
2013 Performance Based Value: $3.4m
Value Differential: +$3m
5. Glover Quin, Detroit Lions
In the 2013 offseason the Houston Texans decided to let Glover Quin leave in free agency and replace him with Ed Reed, it looked like a mistake at the time and a bigger mistake over the course of the season. What makes it worse is that Quin did not receive a ridiculous contract. Quin’s contract will start rising next season to $4.5 million, which is much close to his actual performance than his small cap hit in 2013.
2013 Cap Hit: $2.1m
2013 Performance Based Value: $4.7m
Value Differential: +$2.6m
6. Louis Delmas, DET – Cap: $1.2m; PBV: $3.8m; Value Differential: +$2.6m
7. Earl Thomas, SEA – Cap: $2.9m; PBV: $5.4m; Value Differential: +$2.5m
8. Aaron Willams, BUF – Cap: $1.4m; PBV: $3.8m; Value Differential: +$2.4
9. Kenny Vaccaro, NO – Cap: $1.7m; PBV: $3.9m; Value Differential: +$2.2m
10. Donte Whitner, SF – Cap: $4.9m; PBV: $7.1m; Value Differential: +$2.2m
1. Dashon Goldson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over Dashon Goldson career he has never perform as one of the top safeties, however last offseason the Buccaneers gave him $41 million over five seasons. In 2013 Goldson had the worst season of his career as he graded out at -14.6, which was the 6th worse grade for safeties. Next season Goldson will have a cap hit of $9 million so if he is to avoid being the most overvalued safety next season he will have to play significantly better.
2013 Cap Hit: $8.7m
2013 Performance Based Value: $600k
Value Differential: -$8.1m
2. Danieal Manning, Houston Texans *
When Danieal Manning signed his contract prior to 2011 season, he had just come off a career year in 2010 where he graded at +11.8, however since that time he has not been able to hit those heights since. In 2013 Manning suffered a season ending injury in Week 6, so he gets somewhat of a pass. However, he was not performing at his best level in the first six weeks of the season. It would be a surprising if Manning is this high next season since he should play more than 300 snaps next year.
2013 Cap Hit: $5.5m
2013 Performance Based Value: $400k
Value Differential: -$5.1m
3. Antoine Bethea, Indianpolis Colts
In 2013 Bethea had a poor four week stretch between Week 9 to Week 12 where he graded at -8.3. Compare that to the rest of the season ,including the playoffs, where he earned a +7.4 grade. Outside of those four poor games, Bethea never was outstanding in any one game as he was consistently evaluated to be around -1.0 to +1.0. When the Colts played the Chiefs, Bethea had his best game of the season, performing well in coverage and in the run game. With Bethea becoming a free agent it will be interesting to see if he will be getting a contract that pays him more than he deserves.
2013 Cap Hit: $5.8m
2013 Performance Based Value: $1.1m
Value Differential: -$4.7m
4. LaRon Landry, Indianapolis Colts
The second of the Colts safeties to make the list here is LaRon Landry. While not as overvalued as Bethea is, he is still overpaid for what he has produced on the field. Landry will never become the player who he was drafted to be in 2007 by the Redskins, however he still flashes the skill set that made him a top five draft pick, but he also has the ability to have bad stretches as well. If Landry struggles to stay healthy as he has in the past he could be back as one the overvalued safeties.
2013 Cap Hit: $5.8m
2013 Performance Based Value: $1.8m
Value Differential: -$4.0m
5. Dwight Lowery, Jacksonville Jaguars *
Dwight Lowery gets a pass on being on this list since he only played 129 snaps before suffering a season ending injury, which led to his release in November of 2013. When Lowery was healthy he was a decent productive player for the Jaguars and the Jets before that. If Lowery is able to come back from his concussion problems and wants to play again, he could end up being a valuable to a team.
2013 Cap Hit: $3.9m
2013 Performance Based Value: $200k
Value Differential: -$3.7m
6. Antrel Rolle, NYG – Cap: $9.2m; PBV: $5.6m; Value Differential: -$3.6m
7. Charles Godfrey, CAR – Cap: $3.7m; PBV: $900k; Value Differential: -$3.6m
8. Ryan Clark, PIT – Cap: $4.8m; PBV: $1.5m; Value Differential: -$3.3m
9. Tyvon Branch, OAK – Cap: $3.9m; PBV: $600k; Value Differential: -$3.3m
10. Malcom Jenkins, NO – Cap: $4.1m; PBV: $1.0m; Value Differential: -$3.1m
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