JVM: Tennessee Titans
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Jahnke 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 Tennessee Titans:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Jurrell Casey, Defensive Tackle
When the fourth-highest graded defensive tackle is still on his rookie contract, you know he will be a great value. With Casey entering the last year of his rookie deal we could see him getting an extension before the season starts, and if that’s the case this would likely be the last time we’ll see such a huge ‘play vs. pay’ gap from him. It shouldn’t be too long until he is paid much closer to what the top interior defensive line are getting.
2013 Cap Hit: $740k
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $9.1m
Value Differential: +$8.3m
2. Alterraun Verner, Cornerback
In each of his four seasons, Verner has graded in the Top 25 overall as a corner and, over the first six games of 2013, heerner put on an impressive display grading at +12.2. He did, however, have his struggles later on in the season, but it is no surprise to see the 2010 fourth-rounder come in as one of the most undervalued players the Titans have after grading out at +9.5 for the season. Unfortunately for the Titans, with Verner set to hit free agency, ending his run as one of the team’s top values. It will be interesting to see how much he gets paid.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.5m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $6.1m
Value Differential: +$4.6m
3. Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver
Kendall Wright came on strong in his second season in the NFL where he graded at +12.2, which placed him as the 19th-rated wide receiver and one of the top slot receivers in the game — Wright had the second most targets from the slot with 86, behind only Wes Welker. As with the Casey and Verner, Wright is still on his rookie contract and as with a lot of the highest value differentials in the league, the new CBA has helped shift the value of first round picks to some of the league’s best values instead of being wildly over paid.
2013 Cap Hit: $1.9m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $5.4m
Value Differential: +$3.5m
4. Derrick Morgan, ED – Cap: $2.5m, JVM: $6.0m, Value Differential: +$3.5m
5. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB – Cap: $2.4m, JVM: $5.1m, Value Differential: +$2.7m
6. Akeem Ayers, LB – Cap: $1.3m, JVM: $3.7m, Value Differential: +$2.4m
7. Collin Mooney, FB – Cap: $400k JVM: $2.7m, Value Differential: +$2.3m
8. Karl Klug, ED – Cap: $600k, JVM: $2.7m, Value Differential: +$2.1m
9. George Wilson, S– Cap: $1.7m, JVM: $3.6m, Value Differential: +$1.9m
10. Bernard Pollard, S – Cap: $2m, JVM: $3.7m, Value Differential: +$1.7m
1. Chris D. Johnson, Running Back
It should come as no surprise to anyone to see Chris Johnson as one of the most overvalued players in the league. With a contract that rivals Adrian Peterson’s, he is performing like an average running back at best. In 2013 Johnson put up just 3.9 yards per carry, which was the 34th-ranked average. It looks even more bleak when you look at yards after contact, where Johnson was the 48th out of the 54 runners who qualified. While Johnson does have faults he is a player who needs quality blocking to produce the most out of his talents as he just can’t create yards after contact. It will be a surprise if the Titans do not move on from him and his high cap number.
2013 Cap Hit: $12.0m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $900k
Value Differential: -$11.1m
2. David Stewart, Right Tackle*
Unfortunately for David Stewart in 2013 he had the second-highest for cap numbers for right tackles. On top of having a high cap hit, Stewart also missed four games due to injury. When Stewart was on the field last season he performed just above league average (+2.2). The Titans have a difficult decision between keeping Stewart and his 2014 cap number of $6.4m or forcing him into a ‘take pay cut or be cut’ kind of situation. It would be a surprise to me if Stewart is still on Titans at $6.4m since he has no dead money in his contract, and team has all the leverage.
2013 Cap Hit: $7.0m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.6m
Value Differential: -$5.4m
3. Kamerion Wimbley, Edge Defender
In 2013 Wimbley only played on 33.1% of the Titans’ defensive snaps, what is more surprising is that he missed zero time due to injury. When the Titans signed him as a free agent in 2012, the team expected Wimbley to be instrumental in giving them a pass-rushing force on the edge. In the first half of 2012 it looked like Wimbley was going to be the player the Titans had envisioned — during the first nine weeks he produced a pressure 14.2% of the time he rushed the passer. However, from Week 10 of 2012 to the end of the 2013 season, Wimbley has struggled to produce the same level of production, only getting a pressure every 9% of the time.
2013 Cap Hit: $5.8m
2013 Jahnke Value Model: $1.1m
Value Differential: -$4.7m
4. Craig Stevens, TE – Cap: $3.5m, JVM: $1.0m, Value Differential: –$2.5m
5. Michael Roos, LT – Cap: $7.5m, JVM: $5.2m, Value Differential: –$2.3m
6. Michael Griffin, S – Cap: $6.1m, JVM: $3.9m, Value Differential: –$2.2m
7. Rob Bironas, K – Cap: $2.8m, JVM: $825k, Value Differential: –$2.0m
8. Jason McCourty, CB – Cap: $6.8m, JVM: $5.1m, Value Differential: –$1.7m
9. Shonn Greene, HB – Cap: $2.6m, JVM: $1.0m, Value Differential: –$1.6m
10. Delanie Walker, TE – Cap: $3.0m, JVM: $1.4m, Value Differential: –$1.6m
Summary – Team Value Differential: -$5.5m
In 2012 the Titans nearly broke even with their Team Value Differential, however, over 2013 it has started to trend the wrong way. The Titans are in an interesting position that will require somthing of a balancing act: they will have to either let some of their undervalued players walk, or pay them closer to what their performance suggests, while some of the overvalued players are getting to a point where they could be cut in order to save significant cap money.
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