Performance Based Value: Kickers and Punters

PFF's Nathan Jahnke lines up 2012's most overvalued kickers and punters.

| 4 years ago
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Performance Based Value: Kickers and Punters


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’s a look at the most overvalued kickers and punters in the league:

Kickers

1. Connor Barth, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2012 Cap Hit: $4.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.2m
Value Differential: -$3.2m

Prior to the season Barth signed a four-year deal which made him as the highest paid kicker in 2012. One of the problems is that Barth doesn’t handle kickoff duties — rare for a kicker. Therefore, the Buccaneers paid him just to kick field goals, where he made 87.5% of his attempts, placing him right around league average. To his credit, his field goals were, on average, a little longer than most, but it’s hard to justify top dollars for a player who impacts his team so little… even if he is pretty good at it.

2. Phil Dawson, Cleveland Browns

2012 Cap Hit: $3.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.3m
Value Differential: -$2.5m

Dawson was given the franchise tag before last season, which is a little too much for a kicker unless he is perfect in every way. While you won’t find anyone complaining about his recent field goal kicking, the problem is his kickoffs. His fell in below the league average with just 65.2 yards per kickoff and his PFF kickoff grade was sixth-lowest in the league, which hurt his overall value.

3. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts

2012 Cap Hit: $3.2m
2012 Performance Based Value: $930k
Value Differential: -$2.3m

This is another case of a kicker who, at this point in his career, isn’t charged with kickoff duty. The problem, along with that fact, is he wasn’t even very good at kicking field goals in 2012, ending with just a 79.4 field goal percentage. That landed him among the NFL’s worst and set his Performance Based Value at the league minimum for how long he has been in the league.

4. Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons

2012 Cap Hit: $2.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $830k
Value Differential: -$1.8m

The takeaway message for this half of the article is that kickers who only kick field goals and don’t do kickoffs should not be among the highest paid in the league. Bryant also falls under this category and, although he was still fairly good at kicking field goals, it doesn’t help his case when nine kickers made over 90% of their tries and Bryant didn’t.

5. Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals

2012 Cap Hit: $2.7m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.3m
Value Differential: -$1.4m

This is simply a case where Nugent had a salary that was higher than the average kicker but his play didn’t keep pace and he missed a few games with an injury. His 84.2 field goal percentage was nothing to be excited about, and 66.2% of his kickoffs were returned which was sixth-highest in the league.

 

Punters

1. Shane Lechler, Oakland Raiders

2012 Cap Hit: $4.9m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.3m
Value Differential: -$3.6m

When you make 163% more money than the second-highest paid player at your position, you better be the best without question. Unfortunately for the Raiders, this was nowhere near true for Lechler in 2012, with his 47.2 yards per punt winding up just ninth in the league. He had 24 punts downed inside the 20-yard line compared to nine touchbacks — not a good ratio. While part of that ratio depends on the rest of the special teams, there is no point paying a punter so much if he can’t get any help in this regard.

2. Brian Moorman, Buffalo Bills/Dallas Cowboys

2012 Cap Hit: $2.4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $930k
Value Differential: -$1.5m

The Bills were paying Moorman a lot of money, but quickly decided he was no longer the answer after producing just 32.7 net yards per punt. He spent the rest of the year with the Dallas Cowboys where he didn’t fare much better (38.9). Overall, he’s a punter who was paid a fair amount but wasn’t worth anything more than the minimum.

3. Saverio Rocca, Washington Redskins

2012 Cap Hit: $1.9m
2012 Performance Based Value: $780k
Value Differential: -$1.1m

After a decent 2010 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins decided to snatch this punter away from their division rivals on a two-year deal. The fact that he is in Year 2 of a contract makes his cap hit high, while his 43.9 yards per punt makes his suggested cap hit low, hence making him one of the more overpaid punters.

4. Adam Podlesh, Chicago Bears

2012 Cap Hit: $1.7m
2012 Performance Based Value: $700k
Value Differential: -$980k

His story is nearly identical to Rocca’s. He is a punter on the second year of a contract with a very low yards per punt of 42.0. Unlike Rocca, Podlesh is still signed on to punt for the Bears for another three years so, minus a turnaround, he will remain on this list for years to come.

5. Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings

2012 Cap Hit: $1.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $830k
Value Differential: -$810k

While he is possibly the most well-known punter for his entertaining off-the-field antics, he also was also near the bottom in some important punting categories. Like most punters on the list, his 45.0 yards per punt was underwhelming, and his total of 20 kicks downed inside the 20 was the lowest for those who played in all 16 games.

 

Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke


| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • Daniel Gleeson

    How Akers didn’t make this list is beyond me. $3.6m cap hit and the most missed FGs of any kicker. Care to elaborate why he’s not deemed to be “overpaid”?

  • Niners_FanMan

    Probably because he scores really high with kickoffs and he made a 63 yarder as well as several from 50+. I’m guessing that was the reason.

  • GBPfan

    Crosby … a penny against the cap makes him the most over paid NFL player