JVM: Chicago Bears
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Janke 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 Chicago Bears:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver
Instead of hitting a sophomore slump, Alshon Jeffery found a sophomore surge in 2013. Jeffery struck gold in the new scheme of head coach Mark Trestman and quickly proved that he was the perfect complement opposite Brandon Marshall. Jeffery’s Yards per Route Run of 2.36 was sixth-best among receivers and he out-jumped opposing defensive backs on his way to the third-best deep passing catch rate in the league at 45.2%. If that doesn’t convey the complete story, his overall grade skyrocketed from -2.0 in 2012 to +18.7. As we outlined a few weeks back, if Jeffery continues to put up this kind of production, Chicago is on its way to having a pair of elite receivers at its disposal.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.0m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $7.5m
Value Differential: +$6.5m
2. Josh McCown, Quarterback
Jay Cutler going down with a groin injury vs. Washington should have had a devastating effect on Chicago’s offense. Instead, backup quarterback Josh McCown stepped in and won key games that put the Bears in position to make the postseason. McCown only played 427 snaps, but finished with the fifth-highest overall grade for a quarterback (tied with Aaron Rodgers) and third-best NFL QB rating at 109.0. He also had the best completion percentage of any QB under pressure at 77.0%. At 35, McCown likely only has a few more seasons left. But given Cutler’s injury history, keeping McCown is almost imperative for Chicago.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.4m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $8.3m
Value Differential: +$6.9m
3. Matt Slauson, Guard
With Cutler going into a contact year, Chicago desperately needed to shore up a less-than offensive line to give him the best opportunity to succeed. For the most part, the guys up front held up well in 2013 and Matt Slauson was a huge part of that. He was Chicago’s best offensive lineman in and was rated as the sixth-best guard in the league (+20.2). Slauson’s value reached nearly $6 million last season, more than $5 million of what his cap hit actually was. He was rewarded with a four-year contract immediately after the season.
2013 Cap Hit: $800k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.8m
Value Differential: +$5m
4. Martellus Bennett, TE – Cap: $2m, JVM: $5.5m, Value Differential: +$3.5m
5. Brandon Marshall, WR — Cap: $9.3m, JVM: $11.4m, Value Differential: +$2.1m
6. Roberto Garza, C — Cap: $2.1m, JVM: $3.6m, Value Differential: +$1.5m
7. Kyle Long, RG — Cap: $1.5m, JVM: $2.1m, Value Differential: +$600k
8. Eben Britton, RT — Cap: $600k, JVM: $1m, Value Differential: +$400k
9. Dante Rosario, TE — Cap: $600k, JVM: $900k, Value Differential: +$300k
10. Cheta Ozougwu, DE — Cap: $200k, JVM: $500k, Value Differential: +$300k
1. Julius Peppers, Edge Defender
Although he was clearly Chicago’s best defensive lineman, Julius Peppers had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2013. His seven sacks were highest on the team and tied for 20th among 4-3 defensive ends, but he finished the season with his worst pass rushing grade to date at -3.6. With a cap hit of 14.4m, it’s hard for any player to play up to that number but especially Peppers at the age of 33. There’s no way Chicago can afford another season of Peppers at this cost with similar production, especially with the holes at every level of the defense.
2013 Cap Hit: $14.4m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $2.4m
Value Differential: -$12m
2. Henry Melton, Defensive Tackle*
After being hit with the franchise tag last offseason, Melton was looking to play his way into a long-term payday. Unfortunately, Melton season was cut short after an ACL tear in the third game of the season. At a reasonable price, a return to Chicago for Melton could be great for both parties involved. As of now, though, he was the second-highest overvalued interior defensive lineman of 2013.
2013 Cap Hit: $8.5m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $100k
Value Differential: -$8.3m
3. Charles Tillman, Cornerback*
Charles Tillman couldn’t shake the injury bug and only appeared in eight games. In those games, he only had a ‘green’ grade one time and never seemed to be able to reach the form seen in his career season of 2012. Tillman only allowed eight total touchdowns in the previous three seasons, but in 2013 allowed seven touchdowns in a limited season. Quarterbacks had a 98.1 NFL QB rating when throwing towards him, which was a career worst for Tillman. His performance based value of $500k was a long way away from the $8 million he cost against the cap.
2013 Cap Hit: $8m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $500k
Value Differential: -$7.5m
Lance Briggs, LB* – Cap: $7.4m, JVM: $1.4m, Value Differential: -$6.0m
Tim Jennings, CB — Cap: $5.1m, JVM: $1.5m, Value Differential: -$3.6m
Michael Bush, HB — Cap: $3.5m, JVM: $700k, Value Differential: -$2.8m
Robbie Gould, K — Cap: $3.5m, JVM: $800k, Value Differential: -$2.7m
Matt Forte, HB — Cap: $7.3m, JVM: $4.6m, Value Differential: -$2.6m
Devin Hester, WR — Cap: $2.9m, JVM: $800k, Value Differential: -$2.1m
Shea McClellin, ED — Cap: $1.9m, JVM: $500k, Value Differential: -$1.4m
Summary – Team Value Differential: -31.6m
With 48 players coming in with 2013 performance values that fell short of their cap number, the downward drag was too much for the 19 players who outperformed their numbers to catch up with. Injuries played a large role in some of the most sizable shortcomings, but there was simply too much of the roster that didn’t stack up.
Follow Rashawn on Twitter: @RashawnFranklin.