Performance Based Value: Green Bay Packers
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 2012. 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 2012
• 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 2012’s most undervalued and overvalued Green Bay Packers:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Clay Matthews, Outside Linebacker
The Packers are on the verge of two monster contracts, and one will likely be going to Clay Matthews. If it wasn’t for a hamstring injury that kept him out of four games, Matthews could have put up some monstrous numbers. Even still, the fourth-year linebacker was the second-most valuable player on the Packers, and the second-highest graded 3-4 outside linebacker. Something tells me he won’t be on the undervalued list for long.
Cap Hit: $2.0m
Performance Based Value: $10.0m
Value Differential: +$8.0m
2. Casey Hayward, Cornerback
Only a rookie, the Vanderbilt product had one of the best seasons of any corner in the league. Hayward’s passer rating against of 31.1 was the lowest PFF has ever seen, and his overall grade of +23.3 was the third-highest among corners. His Performance Based Value was $8.3m despite playing just 63% of the total defensive snaps. Hayward also ended up with the best run defense grade in the Packers’ secondary and was seventh among all cornerbacks in tackling efficiency. After playing 69% of his snaps in the slot in 2012 it will be interesting to see if Hayward can unseat Sam Shields or Tramon Williams for a starting role in 2013.
Cap Hit: $602k
Performance Based Value: $8.3m
Value Differential: +$7.7m
3. Brad Jones, Inside Linebacker
After playing his first three seasons as a rush outside linebacker, Jones moved inside this offseason. In Week 6, after injuries to Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith, Jones was thrust into a starting role. From then on he compiled the ninth-best grade among inside linebackers and proved to be immensely valuable as a three-down linebacker. I’m not sure even the Packers’ coaching staff could have predicted how well Jones took to the position. The only knock on him was his subpar 9.6 tackling efficiency. Jones is a free agent this offseason, and with only 12 starts to his name, he could be a steal for whomever he signs with.
Cap Hit: $635k
Performance Based Value: $6.3m
Value Differential: +$5.6m
4. Aaron Rodgers, QB – Cap: $8.5m, PBV: $14.0m, Value Differential: +$5.5m
5. Sam Shields*, CB – Cap: $547k, PBV: $5.5m, Value Differential: +$5.0m
6. Randall Cobb, WR – Cap: $734k, PBV: $5.2m, Value Differential: +$4.5m
7. Morgan Burnett, S – Cap: $763k, PBV: $4.6m, Value Differential: +$3.9m
8. Mike Neal, DE – Cap: $708k, PBV: $2.5m, Value Differential: +$1.8m
9. Jerron McMilian, S – Cap: $465k, PBV: $1.8m, Value Differential: +$1.4m
10. James Jones, WR – Cap: $3.1m, PBV: $4.4m, Value Differential: +$1.3m
1. Charles Woodson*, Safety
Unlike Jones, Woodson’s position change was not an instant success. He started only seven games before breaking his collarbone and missing the next nine. In those seven games he graded positively only twice. It wasn’t that his play was hurting the Packers, it was that his contract was signed as an elite corner and he has aged into an adequate safety. With Woodson’s upcoming $9.5m cap hit in 2013, the Packers already decided to part ways with the veteran safety. He could still land with another team, but it will likely be for a cap number closer to his performance based value from 2012.
Cap Hit: $11.4m
Performance Based Value: $1.4m
Value Differential: -$10.0m
2. Greg Jennings*, Wide Receiver
Jennings is another whose value in 2012 was greatly hampered by injury. He made only eight starts in the regular season and played only 435 snaps. Even still, his production wasn’t up to his own standards. His numbers extrapolated to a 16 game season would have reached 72 receptions, 732 yards, and eight touchdowns. His 10.2 yards per catch was the lowest of his career by 4 yards. Jennings Yards Per Route Run was the fourth-highest among Packer receivers, at 1.28, even though he had the second-highest target percentage (20%). Those numbers make it pretty clear why the Packers are content to let Jennings hit the open market this summer.
Cap Hit: $7.5m
Performance Based Value: $1.9m
Value Differential: -$5.6m
3. Tramon Williams, Cornerback
In 2012 the Packers had the second-highest cumulative PFF pass coverage grade, and the fourth-lowest passer rating against. What got lost in the success of their secondary was the lackluster play of No. 1 corner Tramon Williams. Williams signed his contract extension in the middle of the 2010 season, and after his great run in the postseason it looked like a steal. In 2011, though, he gave up the most yards in the league and he didn’t improve greatly in 2012. Over the last 10 games this season, including the playoffs, Williams compiled a total grade of -9.9. Williams’ cap hit will only grow the next two seasons, and he’ll have to step it up in order to not make the bottom three again.
Cap Hit: $7.4m
Performance Based Value: $2.3m
Value Differential: -$5.1m
4. Jermichael Finley, TE – Cap: $5.3m, PBV: $1.0m, Value Differential: -$4.2m
5. Ryan Pickett, NT – Cap: $5.8m, PBV: $1.6m, Value Differential: -$4.2m
6. A.J. Hawk, LB – Cap: $6.6m, PBV: $2.9m, Value Differential: -$3.6m
7. Jeff Saturday, C – Cap: $3.2m, PBV: $947k, Value Differential: -$2.2m
8. John Kuhn, FB – Cap: $2.4m, PBV: $825k, Value Differential: -$1.6m
9. Donald Driver, WR – Cap: $2.3m, PBV: $925k, Value Differential: -$1.4m
10. Bryan Bulaga*, T – Cap: $1.9m, PBV: $695k, Value Differential: -$1.2m
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$7.6m
Not surprisingly after going 11-5 the Packers received good value from their contracts. The Packers made a living off of backups playing like starters in 2010, and it was no different again this year with two of our top five subs of the year. The good news is four of their overvalued contracts are already off the books for 2013, and with Ted Thompson’s disdain for overpaying players we could see even more moves this offseason.
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