Performance Based Value: Tennessee Titans
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 Tennessee Titans:
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
1. Derrick Morgan, Defensive End
If you looked at Morgan’s first two years, and even a month into his 2012 season, he looked like a bust. Then things lit up for him in the last 11 weeks of the season where his Pass Rushing Productivity was 13.0, which would have led all 4-3 defensive ends. He is decent in the run game and rarely misses tackles, which now puts him up among the great pass rushing ends. As long as he can keep it up for the remainder of his rookie contract he should be ready for a big pay day.
2012 Cap Hit: $2.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $11.5m
Value Differential: +$9.1m
2. Jurrell Casey, Defensive Tackle
He is one of many cases where the Titans have recently had more hits than misses on the defensive line in recent drafts. He has become a dominant tackle in stopping the run, and his Run Stop Percentage of 8.4% was eighth-best at the position. He doesn’t give as much as a pass rusher, which makes it harder for him to get publicity, but being among the best in the run game is enough to make him deserve a big contract.
2012 Cap Hit: $650k
2012 Performance Based Value: $7.4m
Value Differential: +$6.8m
3. Jason McCourty, Cornerback
Prior to the 2012 season, McCourty signed a new contract so his cap hit will be a bit higher in future years. Still, he played well enough to warrant more money in 2012 than he will be getting in any future year. He had 15 combined interceptions and passes defended, and his 11 stops in the run game ranked sixth among cornerbacks. He was penalized only twice all year, which gets you a very good cornerback in all aspects of the game.
2012 Cap Hit: $4.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $9.2m
Value Differential: +$4.4m
4. Alterraun Verner, CB – Cap: $680k, PBV: $5.0m, Value Differential: +$4.3m
5. Mike Martin, DT – Cap: $530k, PBV: $4.4m, Value Differential: +$3.8m
6. Fernando Velasco, C – Cap: $620k, PBV: $3.6m, Value Differential: +$3.0m
7. Jake Locker, QB – Cap: $2.9m, PBV: $5.5m, Value Differential: +$2.7m
8. Zach Brown, OLB – Cap: $700k, PBV: $2.8m, Value Differential: +$2.1m
9. Michael Roos, OT – Cap: $7.3m, PBV: $8.6m, Value Differential: +$1.4m
10. Karl Klug, DT – Cap: $520k, PBV: $1.7m, Value Differential: +$1.2m
1. Chris Johnson, Halfback
Most likely if you were asked who the most overvalued Titan was, you wouldn’t need us to help you with the answer. If you look just at Johnson’s 4.5 yards per carry, you might think you have a pretty good back. However he broke three runs for 80+ yards, and on the other 273 he had just 3.6 yards per carry, with just 1.7 of them coming after contact. If you want to pay someone $3 million per long run than he is almost worth it, but if not then Johnson’s contract is a problem.
2012 Cap Hit: $11.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.4m
Value Differential: -$10.1m
2. Will Witherspoon, Linebacker
Over the past two years, the Titans have used two second-round picks and a fourth-round pick to form their trio of linebackers, which has led to a Witherspoon benching. Injuries throughout the season allowed Witherspoon to still see some snaps late in the season. He has just 12 stops on the season compared to six missed tackles, which is not a good ratio. Witherspoon is an unrestricted free agent now, and if he returns it should be at a much lower salary.
2012 Cap Hit: $4.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $930k
Value Differential: -$3.6m
3. Michael Griffin, Safety
In 2011 Griffin was in his contract year, and he had a strong season which led to a nice contract for him. Then in 2012 we saw his yards per catch allowed go from 10.5 to 17.1, his passes defended shrink from six to zero, and his missed tackles increase from 10 to 22. Griffin will have a larger cap hit against the Titans over the next few years, so his play will need to turn around in order for him not to become a mainstay on the overvalued list.
2012 Cap Hit: $4.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $940k
Value Differential: -$3.4m
4. Matt Hasselbeck, QB – Cap: $7.5m, PBV: $4.2m, Value Differential: -$3.3m
5. Leroy Harris, G* – Cap: $4.0m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$3.3m
6. David Stewart, OT – Cap: $6.0m, PBV: $2.8m, Value Differential: -$3.2m
7. Nate Washington, WR – Cap: $4.3m, PBV: $1.2m, Value Differential: -$3.1m
8. Steve Hutchinson, G – Cap: $3.5m, PBV: $930k, Value Differential: -$2.6m
9. Kamerion Wimbley, DE – Cap: $4.3m, PBV: $2.0m, Value Differential: -$2.3m
10. Rob Bironas, K – Cap: $3.7m, PBV: $2.4m, Value Differential: -$1.2m
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$670k
The Titans were very close to breaking even in 2012. They have loaded up on young talent on defense that they will eventually need to decide if they should pay or let go. The names on the overvalued players shouldn’t surprise many, and at an average age of 31, some of the overvalued guys won’t be around much longer.
Follow Nate on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke