Cap Hit: Bad Value For Money
What a beautiful thing. It created parity, ensures it continues, and makes football the most competitive sport out there.
Front Offices spend a lot of time trying to get under the cap and stay that way while fielding a competitive team. Unfortunately it doesn’t always go to plan and some teams are spending an inordinate amount of their cap on guys just simply not producing.
So how about we look at the one guy at each position who really stands out in that regard?
(Cap hits unverified)
Quarterback: Michael Vick (PHI) – $14m
What can you say about the year Vick is having? Well if you want damning you need only look at the position he finds himself in – scrambling to avoid being replaced in the lineup by a third round rookie. He only has himself to blame. He’s making those around him look worse than they are with his turnover prone performances that have helped him rank 29th out of 34 quarterbacks in our grading system.
Dishonorable Mentions: Philip Rivers (SD) – $15.5m and Sam Bradford (SL) – $16m
Running Back: Darren McFadden (OAK) – $9.5m
There was some stiff competition for McFadden in this regard, but some improved performances in recent weeks from Chris Johnson just about held him off. Instead the Raider running back was an easy choice with his 3.4 yards per carry average, running back leading seven drops and some poor work in pass protection. It’s not all on him though, he just doesn’t look comfortable in the zone blocking scheme the Raiders have employed.
Dishonorable Mentions: Chris Johnson (TEN) – $11.5m and DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – $8.5m
Fullback: Vonta Leach (BLT) – $4.5m
This isn’t a knock on Leach as much as a knock on the idea of a fullback having that big a cap hit. I mean the guy is playing well but he’s only on the field for 38% of plays. Yep I’d personally allocate that money elsewhere.
Dishonorable Mentions: Le’Ron McClain (SD) – $2m
Tight End: Antonio Gates (SD) – $6.5m
Part of this can no doubt be blamed on the struggles of Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense. But to use that to completely excuse Gates would be wrong, after all Malcom Floyd has managed to keep his performance levels up. No, unfortunately Gates just isn’t playing as we’ve become accustomed to seeing him. Well except for his always atrocious run blocking. Four drops haven’t helped his cause either.
Dishonorable Mentions: Marcedes Lewis (JAX) – $8.5m and Jermichael Finley (GB) – $5m
Wide Receivers: Darrius Heyward-Bey (OAK) – $8m
After his early career struggles, DHB has developed into a decent starting receiver. But you don’t draft a guy that high to be decent, and $8m is a steep price for decent. So while the drops aren’t flowing as they once did, the Raiders are still counting the costs of some expensive over drafting. General Manager Reggie McKenzie has some work to do.
Dishonorable Mentions: Robert Meachem (SD) – $4m and Steve Breaston (KC) – $4.5m
Left Tackle: Jake Long (MIA) – $13m
In the final year of his rookie deal, this number may be slightly inflated, but when you look at the kind of deal Joe Thomas received, it’s not going to be a million miles off what Long is looking for on a per year basis. Long has it in him to be the best left tackle in the league. His four and a bit seasons in the league have shown that. This year he’s done a reasonable job but finds himself down in 19th in our left tackle rankings. That may be a blip but in the modern age where quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball quickly, is any left tackle ever going to be worth this amount?
Dishonorable Mentions: Jermon Bushrod (NO) – $7m
Left Guard: Chris Spencer (CHI) – $4m
Things aren’t going well when you’re benched for Chilo Rachal. Still after disappointing during his time in Seattle it should be no surprise Spencer has done the same at a new spot in Chicago. Other than a leap and prayer there really was no reason to being taking this much of a hit for him. At least the team has acknowledged their mistake now.
Dishonorable Mentions: Steve Hutchinson (TEN) – $3.5m
Center: Brad Meester (JAX) – $3m
Back in 2009 Meester looked done. On his way back from injury he looked like a shadow of the player once was. I wrote him off and many others did. He proved us all wrong, and rebounded with two strong seasons. But that good will is evaporating right now. He’s got better in recent weeks but a poor start to the season hasn’t seen him offer much help to the Jaguars run game.
Dishonorable Mentions: Jeff Saturday (GB) – $3m
Right Guard: Adam Snyder (ARZ) – $2m
It’s gotten to the point where I almost have to apologize when writing about Synder. I mean it feels like I’m repeating myself but what else am I meant to do? It may not seem a lot to invest $2m in a right guard, and it’s not. But when your right guard is so bad he hurts the team with his ability to guide pressure to the quarterback it needs mentioning. Can’t blame Snyder here, the tape was there to show what kind of player he was. Inexcusable decision in signing him.
Dishonorable Mentions: Uche Nwaneri (JAX) – $4m
Right Tackle: Doug Free (DAL) – $4m
Back in 2011 the Bucs were chasing Free and ended up paying almost as much for the constantly substandard Jeremy Trueblood. In hindsight they might be glad they missed out on Free, as he has struggled ever since. This year marks his first at right tackle and it has not gone well. Only four right tackles have a lower grade and nobody has given up more than the 10 penalties he has. His play has fallen off a cliff since 2010.
Dishonorable Mentions: Jeremy Trueblood (TB) – $4m
Turn the page for the Defensive Players
4-3 Defensive End: Kyle Vanden Bosch (DET) – $7.5m
There comes a time when regardless of how much respect you have for one of your defensive leaders, you start to evaluate him purely on performance. Clearly that’s not going on in Detroit because if it was then there’s no way KVB would be on the field nearly as much as he is. Poor in the run game and generating pressure on just 8.2% of pass rushes, the end is surely near for Vanden Bosch.
Dishonorable Mentions: Julius Peppers (CHI) – $12.1m and Mario Williams, BUF ($10m)
4-3 Defensive Tackle: Tommy Kelly (OAK) – $9m
The Raiders have a lot of money invested in their defensive tackles, and while Richard Seymour is always good for some splash plays (and more), this hasn’t been a year where Kelly has excelled. The four penalties he has given up haven’t helped but there’s been a noticeable drop off in his penetration up the gut, with only his display against the Chiefs resembling his displays from yesteryear.
Dishonorable Mentions: Vince Wilfork (NE) – $8.5m and Sedrick Ellis (NO) – $7.5m
3-4 Defensive End: Tyson Jackson (KC) – $9.5m
However you want to spin it, Jackson was a bad draft pick. Not because he’s a bad player, but because you don’t spend a third overall pick on a two down run stuffing end. That’s what the Chiefs did and they’re having to live with the consequences of his astronomical salary. His work in the run game has been decent this year (though nowhere near as good as 2011), but he’s yet to pick up any pressure. In fact throughout his career he has 19 quarterback disruptions. Through 8 weeks of the NFL season 43 defenders have more this season alone.
Dishonorable Mentions: Brett Keisel (PIT) – $5m and Marcus Spears (DAL) – $2.5m
Nose Tackle: Casey Hampton (PIT) – $5m
It’s safe to say that Hampton is coming to the end of the road of a long and successful NFL career. Often regarding as the prototypical zero technique in the game, he’s no longer the player he once was and the league has changed to leave his role less and less meaningful. He’s been on the field for 45% of the Steelers defensive snaps.
Dishonorable Mentions: B.J. Raji – $5.5m and Ryan Pickett – $5.5m of Green Bay. Depending on the match up both men rotate between defensive end and nose tackle without either justifying the cost.
3-4 Outside Linebacker: Dwight Freeney (IND) – $12m
Pretty easy selection, no? You can blame this on Freeney having to transition to outside linebacker but that would be ignoring the problem. He just hasn’t look like the terror he once was. Meanwhile he’s only dropped into coverage on 10 plays and still spends 72.3% of his time rushing with his hand in the ground. All that for 10 quarterback disruptions, a number 23 other outside linebackers have bettered including names like Erik Walden and Jerry Hughes.
Dishonorable Mentions: Tamba Hali (KC) – $15m and Calvin Pace (NYJ) – $7m
3-4 Inside Linebacker: David Harris (NYJ) – $9m
We’ve always held the belief that Harris has been a little bit overrated. While Bart Scott has done a lot of hard lifting clearing blockers out the way, Harris was there to sweep in unblocked and make a tackle to a degree. He’s still making tackles but still struggling to get off blocks, while his usual good work in coverage has been missing. Symptomatic of a disappointing Jets season.
Dishonorable Mentions: London Fletcher (WAS) – $5.5m and Bart Scott (NYJ) – $6m
4-3 Outside Linebacker: Quincy Black (TB) – $5.5m
Seriously, what were the Bucs thinking when they handed Black so much money? He was coming off a good year but that was a huge deal to give a player who had never coped with an every down role. It didn’t work out and now Black finds himself a slightly below average two down player who has played 47% of Tampa Bay defensive snaps.
Dishonorable Mentions: Michael Boley (NYG) – $5.5m and Mathias Kiwanuka (NYG) – $4.5m
4-3 Middle Linebacker: Brian Urlacher (CHI) – $10m
Maybe it’s lingering effects of injury, or maybe it’s father time catching up, but Urlacher is not playing like the player we’ve become accustomed to seeing. In fact only Rey Maualuga and Chase Blackburn rank lower in our middle linebacker grades with nobody grading more poorly against the run. It’s not that he is missing tackles but that he’s not in position to make them.
Dishonorable Mentions: Curtis Lofton (NO) – $5.5m and D’Qwell Jackson (CLV) – $6m
Cornerback: Corey Webster (NYG) – $9m
There was a time where Webster could lay claim to being one of the best cornerbacks around. Now, and yes he has had to deal with an injury, he’s given up 486 yards and three touchdowns. He’s been inconsistent over the past couple of years but the flashes of his talent have been all too few and far between this year with Prince Amukamara outplaying him.
Dishonorable Mentions: DeAngelo Hall (WAS) – $6.5m and Nnamdi Asomugha (PHI) – $11m
Safety: Eric Berry (KC) – $8m
I didn’t give Brian Urlacher a pass and I can’t give Berry one. He looks a step slower than he was pre-injury, and the Chiefs will be hoping it just takes him a bit longer to get back to his best. As it is he looks out of his depth in coverage.
Dishonorable Mentions: Michael Griffin (TEN) – $4.3m
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled