Performance Based Value: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals' recent draft successes have them in the black as the performances of their young players are outdoing their actual cap hits.

| 4 years ago

Performance Based Value: Cincinnati Bengals

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)

So how about we tell you the most undervalued and overvalued Cincinnati Bengals.

(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)


 1. Geno Atkins, Defensive Tackle

If you’ve read a bit of Pro Football Focus over the past year then you’ll know that to us (and really anyone who has watched a substantial amount of football) Atkins was the best defensive tackle in the game. Bona fide brilliance, he picked up 28 defensive stops in the run game (only Jurrell Casey had more among DTs) and 78 combined sacks, hits, and hurries (58 was the next most among his peers). A season for the ages and for such little money.

2012 Cap Hit: $660k
2012 Performance Based Value: $10m
Value Differential: +$9.3m

2. A.J. Green, Wide Receiver

The risk with an early pick is that they don’t live up to the billing. That was never the case with Green who built upon an impressive rookie year to showcase himself as one of the most talented receivers in the league. He would pick up 2.32 Yards Per Route Run (ninth-most among wide receivers) while showing himself a true deep threat with his 474 yards on deep passes (fifth-highest in the league).

2012 Cap Hit: $4.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $9.8m
Value Differential: +$5.3m

3. Adam Jones, Cornerback

It tells you something about how well Jones played as the right cornerback in the Bengals’ nickel defense that he warranted such a high cap hit. Finishing the year as our 11th-ranked cornerback thanks to his work in coverage (just 4.35% of his snaps in coverage resulted in a first down or touchdown, seventh-lowest in the league) he played with the kind of ability that finally showcased why he was a first-round pick.

2012 Cap Hit: $1.1m
2012 Performance Based Value: $6m
Value Differential: +$4.9m

4. Carlos Dunlap, DE – Cap: $850k, PBV: $5.5m, Value Differential: +$4.6m

5. Terence Newman, CB – Cap: $1.6m, PBV: $5.8m, Value Differential: +$4.3m

6. Andy Dalton, QB – Cap: $1.2m, PBV: $5.3m, Value Differential: +$4.1m

7. Vontzae Burflict, LB – Cap: $390k, PBV: $3.6m, Value Differential: +$3.2m

8. Kevin Zeitler, OG – Cap: $1.4m, PBV: $3.9m, Value Differential: +$2.5m

9. Clint Boling, OG – Cap: $575k, PBV: $2.9m, Value Differential: +$2.3m

10. Michael Johnson, DE – Cap: $1.6m, PBV: $3.8m, Value Differential: +$2.1m



1. Robert Geathers, Defensive End

Geathers  played an awful lot of regular season snaps (660 snaps) without making an awful lot of plays. Moving inside in the nickel package on obvious passing situations, what defines Geathers as a player is his constant inability to generate pressure — he earned the sixth-lowest grade of all defensive ends rushing the passer.

2012 Cap Hit: $6.2m
2012 Performance Based Value: $825k
Value Differential: -$5.4m

2. Nate Clements, Safety

The Bengals didn’t sign Clements to be a safety but injuries and a lack of faith in him at corner meant they moved him there. Naturally it didn’t quite work out, and while he saw 594 snaps on the season he just wasn’t good enough against the run to make the move a success.

2012 Cap Hit: $5.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $950k
Value Differential: -$4.6m

3. Domata Peko, Defensive Tackle

For a player who specializes in his work in the run game, Peko was all too often pushed about. So while he did contribute a decent amount of defensive stops (his 25 were third in the league) it’s the other 91.6% of running plays he was in on that earned him our seventh-lowest run defense grade of all defensive tackles. We’re left wondering if he wouldn’t get quite as much attention without such a noticeable appearance.

2012 Cap Hit: $4.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $942k
Value Differential: -$3.8m

4.  Thomas Howard, LB – Cap: $3.3m, PBV: $50k, Value Differential: -$3m

5.  Leon Hall, CB – Cap: $8.5m, PBV: $5.6m, Value Differential: -$2.9m

6.  Jason Allen, CB – Cap: $3.6m, PBV: $825k, Value Differential: -$2.8m

7.  Jamaal Anderson, DE – Cap: $2.8m, PBV: $90k, Value Differential: -$2.7m

8.  Kyle Cook, OC – Cap: $3.3m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$2.6m

9.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cap: $3m, PBV: $1.1m, Value Differential: -$1.8m

10.  Andrew Whitworth, OT – Cap: $6.7m, PBV: $4.9m, Value Differential: -$1.8m


Summary – Team Value Differential: +$6.4m

The Bengals were always at something of an advantage toward being in credit with some of their excellent drafting in recent years. A player like Geno Atkins is worth his weight in gold for what he can do on the field and yet is hardly costing Cincinnati anything. Overall, 31 players earned positive Value Differential’s, and 34 earned negative.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • Gregaturner

    How do players like Howard and Allen end up on the list? They each played less than ten snaps due to injury.

    • indesignkat

      I think the author’s * was broken. I suspect those guys are on the list (but should have an *) and a guy like Travelle Wharton isn’t simply because they actually played some regular season snaps, while Wharton was lost on the first offensive series in the first preseason game.

  • Gregaturner

    …..and Anderson?

  • Brennen

    Injuries make the overvalued list fuzzy. If you include J Anderson and T Howard, who were injured so early, you should include Travelle Wharton too. Geathers, Clements, Peko, Thomas Howard, Allen, Anderson, Wharton, Kyle Cook, Whitworth should be the overvalued list. Leon Hall earned his pay

  • Matt

    This offers a simple truth about the Bengals supposed cap space…a lot of those guys at the top getting paid peanuts are already free agents or will require new deals in the next year or two. The team has gotten to the point where they may have to let guys like Geathers walk and not re-sign them. He got that contract after a 10.5 sack season. Now I’ll be the first to say his production is way below his pay. But he is a guy who while not producing is not going to make a lot of mistakes. He’s also the leader of that D line unit, he mentored every one of those guys. He’s versatile as well. In his time with the Bengals he’s started at RDE, LDE, DT & LOLB. They have also asked him to change weight a lot. When he was recording sacks he weighed 260-265 lbs. Then they had him bulk up 285-290 to play DT. The next season he was back to DE and 270. The following year they wanted to use him at LOLB at about 260. Over the last 2 years Zimmer has steadied him out at 275. Where he is mainly used as a post in the D line. His job is mainly to stand his man up in the gap and force the run somewhere else. In fact sometimes his job is to fill the C gap, while being in reach of the B gap. He’s also dropped out into a flat zone sometimes too. Either way there are not a lot of guys who can start 3 positions on D and play in a weight range of 260-290. But that doesn’t mean he should be making 6M a year. Yet he has been with them his whole career and all but one of the Marvin Lewis years. At this point Geathers, Whitworth & Peko are the guys who have led the team since Palmer split town. THey organized workouts during the lockout, they police the locker room and the rookies. I think they are going to want him back. And I think there won’t be much of a market for him outside of the 2-3M range. If the Bengals can lock on for that price they will. If it’s much higher I think they will have to pass. If they pass on him altogether then it’s clear they think that they think that leaders are starting to emerge from the young guys.