Performance Based Value: Cornerbacks

Cornerback is one of football's most important positions, and teams are willing to pay handsomely for a good one - however, these 10 players didn't earn their rewards.

| 4 years ago

Performance Based Value: Cornerbacks

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)

Let’s take a look at the league’s most overvalued CBs.

1. Darrelle Revis, New York Jets

2012 Cap Hit: $11.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $950k
Value Differential: -$10.6m

Perhaps it’s not entirely fair to include Revis on this list, as he lasted just 93 snaps into the season and compiled an outstanding +5.9 grade in his limited action before going down with an ACL tear. Nevertheless, a season-ending injury didn’t prevent a cap hit of over $11 million, and regardless of how good Revis has been, the Jets just didn’t get anywhere close to the value that they paid for in 2012.

2. Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons

2012 Cap Hit: $10.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $40k
Value Differential: -$10.2m

With a stellar 2011 season in which he received an overall grade of +17.2, Grimes earned the franchise tag and, unfortunately for Atlanta, the massive cap hit that came along with it. It would’ve been difficult to play up to that kind of value at all and only three CBs did so in 2012. So it’s not a surprise that Grimes fell far short of that mark after he went down with an Achilles after playing just 52 snaps.

3. Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles

2012 Cap Hit: $11.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.1m
Value Differential: -$9.9m

Despite a solid year in run defense, Asomugha was doomed by surrendering five touchdowns and allowing more than 66 percent of passes to be completed for a 15.9 yard average. The former Raider consistently failed to live up to his reputation and enormous salary in his second year with the Eagles.

4. Chris Gamble, Carolina Panthers

2012 Cap Hit: $9.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $830k
Value Differential: -$8.9m

Yet another injury casualty on this list, Gamble went down with a shoulder injury after playing virtually every snap in the team’s first four games. An unfortunate outcome for the LCB, who was allowing just 0.45 Yards per Cover Snap which would’ve led the league by a wide margin. Even with his play in those 282 snaps and his solid 2011 campaign, Gamble now finds himself on the free agent market with the Panthers facing another big cap hit as he closes in on 30 years of age.

5. Corey Webster, New York Giants

2012 Cap Hit: $9.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.1m
Value Differential: -$8.2m

Only three players finished the season with a lower overall grade than Webster’s -11.3, as he struggled to stay with opposing receivers. He allowed 1.72 yards per snap in coverage while the eight touchdowns against him were only bested by Patrick Robinson among all corners. We’ve seen much better from Webster in recent years, so this may just have been an off season. On the other hand, if his 2012 play is the start of a late-career decline – and a very steep one – the Giants could be in trouble with Webster accounting for another fairly sizable cap hit in 2013.

6. Stanford Routt, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans

2012 Cap Hit: $6.2m
2012 Performance Based Value: $830k
Value Differential: -$5.4m

Not the best of years for Routt, who after signing a three-year deal worth close to $20 million last offseason, lasted just seven games before being cut by the Chiefs. He was eventually picked up by the Texans but saw just two snaps over the final month of the season. That was probably a good thing for Houston, however; quarterbacks had a rating of 109.9 when targeting Routt, who ended the year with a grade of -5.7. He also allowed 2.22 yards per snap in coverage which was the second-highest number of any CB who saw at least 100 snaps.

7. Tramon Williams, Green Bay Packers

2012 Cap Hit: $7.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.3m
Value Differential: -$5.1m

Williams actually had a decent 2012 season in coverage, allowing just 54 percent of targets to be completed, while defending 14 passes – only two players had more in the regular season. He didn’t fare well in run defense, though, finishing with a grade of -4.9, largely due to his Week 17 performance against the Vikings, where he helped keep the Vikings’ season – and Adrian Peterson’s hopes of breaking the rushing record – alive. In the end, his $7.4 million cap hit was just too lofty to reach in value, and a figure that only a handful of corners would have surpassed this season.

8. Eric Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2012 Cap Hit: $6.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.1m
Value Differential: -$4.9m

Even if he had stayed healthy all season and not been suspended four games for PED use, it’s unlikely Tampa Bay would’ve gotten a positive return on the $38 million contract they gave Wright last offseason and accompanying cap hit. In the 10 games he played, the corner defensed seven passes (including his lone interception), but missed nine tackles and allowed 1.65 yards per snap in coverage. If Wright is cut this week, don’t anticipate his next team to make the same mistake the Bucs did.

9. Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis Rams

2012 Cap Hit: $6.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.2m
Value Differential: -$4.8m

The free agent acquisition had a solid year in 2012, at least statistically, as he didn’t allow a single touchdown, while his 9.7 yards per reception surrendered was among the lowest figures in the league. However, stats don’t tell the whole story, especially in run defense. After a strong start to the season, he struggled to maintain his early success, grading positively for his efforts against the run just once after Week 6. Finnegan failed to live up to the outstanding 2011 form that earned him a $50m free agent contract deal with the Rams, though he should be a decent player going forward, even if slightly overpaid.

10. DeAngelo Hall, Washington Redskins

2012 Cap Hit: $6.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.9m
Value Differential: -$4.7m

One of the few players to make this list while playing a full 16 games, Hall had an up and down year. When at his best, he definitely justified his sizeable contract and cap hit, such as Washington’s two games against Dallas, in which he defensed three passes and picked off one more. However, as evidenced by his inclusion on this list and -2.4 grade, he didn’t play at that level quite often enough. Only Patrick Robinson gave up more than the 1,045 yards Hall allowed in coverage. The four interceptions and nine pass defenses look good for the Redskin, but the upcoming cap hits don’t provided he remains on the team.


Follow John on Twitter: @PFF_JManey  

  • Joe

    List would be more substantive if you limited it to players who played 50-60% of the snaps or so. So Revis didn’t fulfill his cap number because he only played the equivalent of a game and a half? Earth shattering!

    • John

      The next couple on the list were Dunta Robinson, Joe Haden, Tracy Porter, Aaron Ross, Jon Joseph granted Porter (and even JJ) is another injury guy.

      Joe Haden is just a case of the old CBA and rookie contracts. The fact that he’s so low – relatively – with the seventh highest cap hit speaks to his play on the field.

  • neer911

    Love how Patrick Robinson was mentioned twice in this article without making the list. Would you rate him as perhaps the worst performing cornerback of 2012 (albeit with a smaller cap hit than those above in the list)?

    • John

      Definitely wouldn’t call Robinson the worst – there were 16 corners who graded worse in coverage (and a few more when you factor in run defense). Just sticking with the Saints, guys like Corey White and JP were far worse, granted in more limited roles.

      I actually think he’s pretty solid, though obviously not great. In Spags’ scheme, Robinson generally shaded the opponents’ number one WR all over the field, which not a ton of CBs are asked to do. And his 17 combined pass defenses + picks were the third highest of any CB.

      Also consider that the Saints had little pass rush and in general the secondary didn’t seem to have a good grasp on what Spags wanted them to do at times. Would also wager that the yardage number is slightly inflated due to breakdowns in zone that get attributed to Robinson, when it was more of a team communication breakdown.

      Will be interesting to see how he does under Rob Ryan. The talent is obviously there and he graded positively overall in his first 2 seasons. Just looking for consistency.

      • neer911

        Definitely reassuring, especially seeing as he’s not gonna be shadowing the #1 receiver anymore. Seems like I only focused on the bad PRob, not so much the good.

    • kb

      No, but he did give up 9 tds(Most in the league) and the 2nd worst yards per catch at 17.6. He was the 24th worst ranked CB overall.

      Of course you should have a lot of PD’s and INT when you are thrown at nearly 110 times.

  • JD

    I think I can venture a guess as to who the most valuable CB is. And if he finds out he may become even more obnoxious (if that is at all possible).

    • kb

      I’m not exactly sure how this is figured out but it could possibly be Casey Hayward. Graded out very close to each other(hayward 23.2 and Sherman 25.1). Without looking at salaries(I’m sure its actually pretty close though).

      • LinkMaster111

        I’m going to guess Sherman played more snaps though. Casey Hayward undeniably had a great season, but he only started 7 games.