Performance Based Value: New England Patriots
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 New England Patriots:
1. Devin McCourty, Defensive Back
After a stellar rookie season, he gave everyone who believes in the sophomore slump faith in their beliefs. In 2012 he turned things around yet again, and excelled at both cornerback and safety depending on where the Patriots needed him the most. He allowed just 48.5 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught, and had a solid five interceptions and seven passes defended.
2012 Cap Hit: $1.7m
2012 Performance Based Value: $8.1m
Value Differential: +$6.4m
2. Tom Brady, Quarterback
Every few years the Patriots renegotiate Brady’s contract when they need some cap room, and 2012 was one of those years where Brady took less of a cap hit than originally planned. Regardless, Brady remained one of the best quarterbacks in football with an excellent 34:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
2012 Cap Hit: $8.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $13.8m
Value Differential: +$5.8m
3. Brandon Spikes, Linebacker
While the Patriots’ 2010 draft will likely always be remembered for the two tight ends taken, it’s two of the non-tight ends that the Patriots are still getting the best value out of. Although he may never be an every-down player, he has been very consistent in the run game with a Run Stop Percentage of 9.1 percent and just two missed tackles on the year.
2012 Cap Hit: $780k
2012 Performance Based Value: $6.4m
Value Differential: +$5.6m
4. Brandon Lloyd, WR – Cap: $2m, PBV: $5.4m, Value Differential: +$3.4m
5. Ryan Wendell, C – Cap: $950k, PBV: $4.2m, Value Differential: +$3.3m
6. Alfonzo Dennard, CB – Cap: $400k, PBV: $3.6m, Value Differential: +$3.2m
7. Danny Woodhead, HB – Cap: $1.1m, PBV: $3.9m, Value Differential: +$2.8m
8. Rob Gronkowski, TE – Cap: $2.7m, PBV: $5.5m, Value Differential: +$2.8m
9. Dont’a Hightower, LB – Cap: $1.4m, PBV: $4.2m, Value Differential: +$2.8m
10. Stevan Ridley, HB – Cap: $680k, PBV: $3.4m, Value Differential: +$2.7m
1. Logan Mankins, Guard*
After sitting out part of the 2010 season, Mankins returned mid-season and played like an elite guard. Before the 2011 season, New England paid Mankins as such and hasn’t gotten the return on their investment. He didn’t play nearly as well in 2011, and in 2012 had a rough start before sitting out a few games mid-season. From Week 14 on, he returned to his usual form, but playing well for a quarter of the year isn’t enough to make a player paid like one of the best.
2012 Cap Hit: $7m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.5m
Value Differential: -$4.5m
2. Wes Welker, Wide Receiver
In order for the Patriots to keep Welker after the 2011 season they slapped him with the franchise tag. In 2012 all of his numbers were a little worse than the previous year including a lower catch rate, yards per catch, and missed tackles forced. Most alarming was his 19 dropped passes which was five more than any other player. If he stays in New England in 2013, it will likely be at a lower cost.
2012 Cap Hit: $9.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $6.3m
Value Differential: -$3.2m
3. Vince Wilfork, Defensive Lineman
During the 2012 season our Steve Palazzolo wrote about the decline in Wilfork’s play. From that point on Wilfork returned to being a play maker in the Patriots’ defense with three or more stops in five of his last eight games after hitting that mark just twice in his first 10. If he can remain as motivated as he was late in the season for an entire season he won’t see his name on this list again.
2012 Cap Hit: $8.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $6.1m
Value Differential: -$2.5m
4. Aaron Hernandez, TE* – Cap: $3.3m, PBV: $890k, Value Differential: -$2.4m
5. Visanthe Shiancoe, TE – Cap: $3m, PBV: $290k, Value Differential: -$1.7m
6. Matt Slater, WR – Cap: $1.7m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$1m
7. Dan Connolly, G – Cap: $2.3m, PBV: $1.4m, Value Differential: -$900k
8. Rob Ninkovich, DE/OLB – Cap: $2.3m, PBV: $1.4m, Value Differential: -$900k
9. Ras-I Dowling, CB – Cap: $1.2m, PBV: $540k, Value Differential: -$670k
10.Ron Brace, DE – Cap: $1.3m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$640k
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$33m
The Patriots have done an excellent job at finding a few players in each of the recent drafts and getting the most out of their rookie contracts. The players they over paid played well but just didn’t live up to their contract, and had Gronkowski and Hernandez just stayed healthy they would have no other issues. There are many reasons why New England has 10 or more wins in each of their last 10 years, and how they handle their salary cap is one of them.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke