Cap Relief: The Value for Money Guys
Sure it helps to have your quarterback with the big deal excelling, but you gave him that big deal because that was expected. Seeing that backup guard rise up the depth chart and succeed while earning minimum salary gives the team ammunition to make more aggressive moves while not seeing a drop off in play.
But which guys represent the best value? Well we’re going to look at a players cap hit and attempt to tell you with one player from each position.
(Cap hits are not verified and for the purposes of this article only players entering the league before the new rookie salary cap was imposed qualify).
Quarterback: Tom Brady (NE) – $8m
Let’s be honest, there aren’t many underpaid quarterback outs there. But with a front loaded contract Brady represents some tremendous value relative to his cap hit. He is currently our top ranked quarterback on the year and putting forth another season for the ages.
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Rodgers (GB) – $8.5m and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – $9m
Running Back: C.J. Spiller (BUF) – $3.5m
If I was an opposing defensive coordinator and I saw Spiller get the ball in his hands I’d be nervous. Very nervous. It only takes one missed tackles or an ever so slight over pursuit and he’s scampering down the field quicker than a hiccup. It’s part of the reason he leads our elusive rating with a ridiculous 138.5 score. Be warned when he touches the ball.
Honorable Mentions: Pierre Thomas (NO) – $2m and Willis McGahee $2.5m
Fullback: Jerome Felton (MIN) – $500k
A versatile performer, the lead blocking of Felton in an admittedly limited role has been impressive. The Vikings have got their money’s worth and then some.
Honorable Mentions: James Casey (HST) – $600k
Tight End: Martellus Bennett (NYG) – $1.5m
It looked like a good deal at the time and Bennett is using the opportunity in New York to put himself in the window for an even bigger contract. His blocking hasn’t been at its normal high standard but he’s shown himself to be a matchup problem in the receiving game.
Honorable Mentions: Greg Olsen (CAR) – $2.5m and Jacob Tamme (DEN) – $1.5m
Wide Receivers: Percy Harvin (MIN) – $2m
You could take a hit on Harvin of five, six, maybe seven times as much and it would represent money well spent. He is quite simply the most dynamic player in the league at the moment who is a danger every time he touches it. His 529 yards after the catch is more than all bar 15 receivers have managed full stop, and his 21 forced missed tackles are 12 more than any other receiver. He’s going to get paid at some point, and paid big.
Honorable Mentions: Victor Cruz (NYG) – $500k and Brandon Stokley (DEN) – 500k
Left Tackle: William Beatty (NYG) – $800k
It has been an encouraging starting tenure for Beatty, and while he missed the early portion of the season hurt, he’s been a big asset since coming into the Giants lineup. He’s currently ranked as our fifth ranked left tackle in the league and given up just a quarterback pressure for every 23.9 snaps he’s in pass protection.
Honorable Mentions: J’Marcus Webb (CHI) – $500k
Left Guard: Zane Beadles (DEN) – $1m
While Beadles isn’t the best pass blocking guard in the league, his work in the run game has taken a big step forward this year. It won’t be look before his pay surges to match some of the better guards in the league.
Honorable Mentions: Donald Thomas (NE) – $700k
Center: Will Montgomery (WAS) – $1.5m
It’s easy to lose how good Montgmery has been with others in Washington stealing the show. But our fifth ranked center in the league deserves credit for his consistently good displays.
Honorable Mentions: Max Unger (SEA) – $900k
Right Guard: Alex Boone (SF) – $900k
The only negative for the 49ers in this situation is that they took so long to get Boone in the lineup in place of Adam Snyder. That aside Boone has been a revelation and is currently our second ranked right guard in the league. The swap of Snyder for him has helped propel the 49ers to the best line in the league.
Honorable Mentions: Jon Asamoah (KC) – $700k
Right Tackle: Sebastien Vollmer (NE) – $900k
It’s not going to be long before Vollmer is paid with his contract ending at the end of the year. He played well enough to make our Mid Season All Pro team and there isn’t a right tackle in the league playing better. Yet nobody talks about him. What gives?
Honorable Mentions: Phil Loadholt (MIN) – $900k
Turn the page for the defensive players
4-3 Defensive End: Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG) – $2.5m
This won’t stay this low for long, with the always impressive JPP performing exceptionally well for the Giants. He’s picked up 28 quarterback disruptions, has four batted passes and is the owner of our highest run grade of all 4-3 defensive ends. The numbers don’t match his performance from last year but he’s been just as impressive.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Bennett (TB) – $2.7m
4-3 Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins (CIN) – $600k
The easiest decision out there? Is there a player who gives more on the field relative to how much of a cap hit he is? Atkins is our top ranked defensive tackle and leads the way with 27 quarterback disruptions. His work in the run game isn’t too bad either. Safe to say he’s been the best defensive tackle in football over the past year and a half.
Honorable Mentions: Henry Melton (CHI) – $700k
3-4 Defensive End: Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ) – $1.5m
The former first round pick has become one of the most consistent performers on the Jets defensive line. Holding up under a heavy snap count, he may not generate much pass rush but his work in the run game is stellar. He leads all 3-4 ends with 24 defensive stops in the run game.
Honorable Mentions: Jason Hatcher (DAL) – $2m
Nose Tackle: Aubrayo Franklin (SD) – $900k
Is hasn’t been a vintage year for nose tackles has it? The Chargers found themselves a bargain in Franklin though as their value around the league depreciates rapidly. His work in the run game isn’t quite what it was in San Francisco, but he’s making himself a nuisance alright.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Price-Brent (DAL) – $500k
3-4 Outside Linebacker: Clay Matthews (GB) – $2m
It almost seems surreal to think Matthews, in his fourth season in the league, is earning such a low amount. Why? Well you rarely him complain and you just know Green Bay is going to take care of him. He’s currently our second ranked 3-4 outside linebacker and one of the most complete players in the game. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
Honorable Mentions: Albert McClellan (BLT) – $500k
3-4 Inside Linebacker: NaVorro Bowman (SF) – $700k
When you play on the same team as Patrick Willis, it would be easy to fade into the shadows. So it should tell you something about how well Bowman, our second highest ranked 3-4 inside linebacker, has played that he’s a name everyone knows.
Honorable Mentions: Daryl Washington (ARZ) – $1m
4-3 Outside Linebacker: Philip Wheeler (OAK) – $1m
Colts fans must be smacking their head against a table that they let this guy get away when he always flashed the ability to do well. Our second ranked 4-3 outside linebacker has just made play after play since going to Oakland and will find himself on the end of a much bigger deal come the end of the year.
Honorable Mentions: JoLonn Dunbar (SL) – $1.5m
4-3 Middle Linebacker: Brandon Spikes (NE) – $700k
I’m not personally sure if Spikes will ever be a complete three down linebacker who looks comfortable in coverage. I am sure however that he’s about as good as there is in the run game, attacking blocks and knifing through gaps like no other.
Honorable Mentions: None
Cornerback: Alterraun Verner (TEN) – $600k
Ever since Verner has come into the league he has impressed. Now as the team’s full time starting right cornerback he’s putting forth the kind of body of work that is going to lead to a big pay day down the road. With the best strip-fumble-touchdown of the year to his credit, Verner is better than any of his metrics would suggest in allowing just 0.99 yards per snap in coverage.
Honorable Mentions: Sean Smith (MIA) – $800k
Safety: Jairus Byrd (BUF) – $1m
Buffalo won’t be able to put Byrd off much longer – his contract runs out after the season. After a rookie year where quarterbacks treated him like a receiver he’s morphed into one of the game’s true playmaking safeties. A consensus All Pro at the mid season point by the PFF staff he’s already one of the best at his position in the game.
Honorable Mentions: Reshad Jones (MIA) – 600k
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