Performance Based Value: Minnesota Vikings
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 Minnesota Vikings:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Antoine Winfield, Cornerback
At 35, Winfield still brings it every single down. So much so that he was our top rated corner on the year. His +25.5 grade came on the back of his linebacker-esque performance as a slot cornerback in run defense. When you compare his stats in the running game to other corners there is no comparison. Winfield’s grade of +14.6 in run defense was +6.9 better than any other corner, while his 7.3 Run Stop Percentage was 2.1 better than the next closest corner. He played exceptionally in 2012, and with a cap hit of only $3.0m, Winfield was a bargain.
Cap Hit: $3.0m
Performance Based Value: $10.5m
Value Differential: +$7.5m
2. Phil Loadholt, Right Tackle
In the final year of his rookie deal, Loadholt put together his most complete season as a pro. He had never graded positively in both run and pass blocking until this season, when he finished with grades of +9.7 and +9.5 respectively. That was good enough to make him our eighth-best right tackle. He finished 19th among all tackles in Pass Blocking Efficiency, and allowed only four sacks on the season. He was nice value this year, but now that he is an impending free agent the question becomes, what will he be worth?
Cap Hit: $921k
Performance Based Value: $5.0m
Value Differential: +$4.0m
3. Harrison Smith, Safety
The rookie out of Notre Dame was a revelation in the Vikings’ secondary. Smith showed superb coverage skills that more than warranted his first-round selection. He had the second-lowest yards per coverage snap of any safety, and combined with Jamarca Sanford to have the lowest YPCS of any safety duo. The only knock on Smith was his fairly average numbers against the run, with a middling Run Stop Percentage and Tackling Efficiency. He wasn’t asked to be a box safety that often though, playing within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage only 18% of the time.
Cap Hit: $1.3m
Performance Based Value: $5.2m
Value Differential: +$3.9m
4. Blair Walsh, K – Cap: $419k, PBV: $4.3m, Value Differential: $3.9m
5. Kyle Rudolph, TE – Cap: $1.1m, PBV: $4.6m, Value Differential: $3.6m
6. Percy Harvin*, WR – Cap: $2.0m, PBV: $4.6m, Value Differential: $2.6m
7. Jamarca Sanford, S – Cap: $631k, PBV: $2.8m, Value Differential: $2.1m
8. Fred Evans, DT – Cap: $1.3m, PBV: $3.2m, Value Differential: $2.0m
9. John Sullivan, C – Cap: $4.0m, PBV: $5.6m, Value Differential: $1.6m
10. Brian Robison, DE – Cap: $4.0m, PBV: $4.9m, Value Differential: $944k
1. Jared Allen, Defensive End
Any player with a $14m cap hit is going to have a hard time returning good value. We graded only three players in the NFL this season worthy of that big of a cap hit. That being said, Allen still terribly underperformed his contract this season. His $11.2m deficit was the eighth-largest in the NFL. It was going to be almost impossible for Allen to match his near record-breaking performance from 2011, but he took a pretty significant step back. His 9.2 Pass Rushing Productivity was 16th among 4-3 ends, and his overall grade dropped 21.3 points from a year ago. Allen has a long way to go to gain positive value out of the last year of his deal. His cap hit in 2013 will grow to the ninth-largest in the NFL, at $17m.
Cap Hit: $14.2m
Performance Based Value: $3.0m
Value Differential: -$11.2m
2. Chad Greenway, Outside Linebacker
When Greenway is at his best he is one of the most complete outside linebackers in the game. Unfortunately, 2012 was far from his best. For the second year in a row he led all linebackers in yards allowed in coverage. He has never been the most sure tackling linebacker and that didn’t change last season. Greenway’s 9.6 Tackling Efficiency was 18th among outside linebackers, and his second-lowest in the past five seasons. Where Greenway was still very valuable though was his durability. He played the most snaps of any linebacker and missed only nine all season.
Cap Hit: $7.7m
Performance Based Value: $2.0m
Value Differential: -$5.7m
3. John Carlson, Tight End
At the time it seemed like one of the odder free agent signings. Carlson signed a five-year, $25m contract last offseason just a year after the Vikings drafted Kyle Rudolph in the second round. Then, once the season started Rudolph got the vast majority of the snaps, and Vikings fans everywhere were scratching their heads. Carlson ended up playing just 255 snaps on the season. When he did play his production was scarce, with a Yards Per Route Run of only 0.39. With his signing bonus, the Vikings would actually lose money from their cap in 2013 if they cut him, so it looks like he’ll be the second-string tight end for a while.
Cap Hit: $4.0m
Performance Based Value: $700k
Value Differential: -$3.3m
4. Charlie Johnson, G – Cap: $3.9m, PBV: $1.0m, Value Differential: -$2.8m
5. Kevin Williams, DT – Cap: $8.4m, PBV: $6.6m, Value Differential: -$1.8m
6. Letroy Guion, DT – Cap: $1.9m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$1.2m
7. Jerome Simpson, WR – Cap: $1.9m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$1.2m
8. Chris Kluwe, P – Cap: $1.6m, PBV: $825k, Value Differential: -$813k
9. Michael Jenkins, WR – Cap: $1.7m, PBV: $941k, Value Differential: -$728k
10. Toby Gerhart, HB – Cap: $1.4m, PBV: $746k, Value Differential: -$627k
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$8.6m
With a 10-6 season and a playoff appearance, the Vikings managed to have a positive value differential. It helped that Adrian Peterson was able to earn almost every cent of his $12m deal. It also helped that they had so many players on rookie contracts making big contributions. The only troubling thing moving forward is that almost all of their overvalued contracts will stay on the books, and continue to grow in some cases, while starters like Phil Loadholt, Erin Henderson, and Jamarca Sanford hit free agency.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner