JVM: New Orleans Saints
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 New Orleans Saints:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Jimmy Graham, Tight End
Playing in the last year of his rookie contract with a $1.5 million cap hit, it’s no surprise that Graham ranks as the Saints most undervalued player. Despite some blocking issues, he finished as our top-graded tight end owing to his 1,200 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Whether he’s back with the Saints or on another team, there’s going to be some lost value with a new contract; it will be interesting to see how close Graham gets to his worth.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.5m
2013 Performance Based Value: $12.3m
Value Differential: +$10.8m
2. Cameron Jordan, Defensive End
Another player on his rookie contract, Jordan was the breakout star of the revamped defense in New Orleans, grading at +43.7 for the year. While his run defense dropped off slightly from his first two seasons, only JJ Watt graded higher as a pass rusher among 3-4 ends. It was just an outstanding year for the former first rounder, whose $2.1 million cap hit represented a huge value for the Saints.
2013 Cap Hit: $2.1m
2013 Performance Based Value: $6.6m
Value Differential: +$4.5m
3. Zach Strief, Right Tackle
After a mediocre 2012 season, Strief bounced back nicely to finish among the highest-graded tackles (highest RT) at +26.5. He didn’t offer much in run blocking, but was excellent in pass protection, allowing just 33 combined sacks, hits, and hurries in more than 700 regular season snaps pass blocking. Another player who’s a free agent, we’ll see whether he returns to the Saints and at what price; it’s hard to imagine the team will get as good of a bargain as it did in 2013.
2013 Cap Hit: $2.6m
2013 Performance Based Value: $6.6m
Value Differential: +$4m
4. Junior Galette, OLB – Cap: $1.7m, JVM: $5.3m , Value Differential: +$3.6m
5. Ben Watson, TE – Cap: $1.4m , JVM: $4.1m , Value Differential: +$2.7m
6. Darren Sproles, RB – Cap: $3.8m, JVM: $6.0m, Value Differential: +$2.3m
7. Thomas Morstead, P – Cap: $1.9m, JVM: $4.0m, Value Differential: +$2.1m
8. Kenny Vaccaro, S – Cap: $1.7m, JVM: $3.9m, Value Differential: +$2.2m
9. Akiem Hicks, DE – Cap: $628k, JVM: $2.6m, Value Differential: +$2.0m
10. Corey White, CB – Cap: $529k, JVM: $2.3m, Value Differential: +$1.8m
1. Jabari Greer, Cornerback*
Greer was having a slightly down season when he was injured nine snaps into Week 11. Through that game, he had allowed more than 15 yards per reception and three touchdowns, countered with six pass defenses and an interception so his coverage grade wasn’t too bad at -3.0; more than 40 corners finished the season with a worse grade. However, combined with injury and a $5.4 million cap number, the value wasn’t there and clearly the team felt similarly when they released Greer earlier this offseason.
2013 Cap Hit: $5.4m
2013 Performance Based Value: $970k
Value Differential: -$4.5m
2. Jonathan Vilma, Linebacker*
Given that Vilma played just 12 snaps all season, his ranking on this list is almost solely due to injury, though he was unlikely to outperform his $3.8 million cap anyway. In those snaps (Week 9) he finished with a -1.4 grade, and he hasn’t graded positively in any season since 2008, including overall grades below -20.0 in both 2010 and 2011.
2013 Cap Hit: $3.8m
2013 Performance Based Value: $51k
Value Differential: -$3.7m
3. Malcolm Jenkins, Safety
While Jenkins improved this season under Rob Ryan after a putrid 2012 (along with the rest of the Saints defense), he still graded negatively overall. In the last year of his rookie contract, Jenkins again failed to live up to his first round status and cap hit, finishing among the leaders at the position in penalties and missed tackles, which has been a particular problem over the last few seasons. He’s another player that will be interesting to watch this offseason. Jenkins does offer position versatility but his play on the field hasn’t matched expectations so far.
2013 Cap Hit: $4.1m
2013 Performance Based Value: $987k
Value Differential: -$3.1m
4. Lance Moore, WR – Cap: $4.6m, JVM: $1.6m, Value Differential: -$3.0m
5. Roman Harper, S* – Cap: $3.6m, JVM: $825k, Value Differential: -$2.8m
6. Curtis Lofton, LB – Cap: $3.1m, JVM: $700k, Value Differential: -$2.4m
7. Jahri Evans, RG – Cap: $6.7m, JVM: $4.4m, Value Differential: -$2.3m
8. Garrett Hartley, K – Cap: $2.8m, JVM: $612k, Value Differential: -$2.2m
9. Patrick Robinson, CB* – Cap: $2.2m, JVM: $76k, Value Differential: -$2.1m
10. David Hawthorne, LB – Cap: $2.5m, JVM: $700k, Value Differential: -$1.8m
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$21.2m
New Orleans benefitted from a having a number of young contributors on either rookie or low-end contracts. While they lost value from some older players, some of whom have already been released or are pending free agents. Overall the value differential is what you’d probably expect from a playoff contender, though they’ll likely lose a lot of value in retaining Jimmy Graham, and will soon face a similar problem with Cam Jordan.
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