Performance Based Value: Miami Dolphins

Cap hits don't always match up with on-field performance. Khaled Elsayed takes a look at the best and worst values the Miami Dolphins got in 2012.

| 4 years ago

Performance Based Value: Miami Dolphins

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)

The most undervalued and overvalued Miami Dolphins? Read on…


1. Cameron Wake, Defensive End

What can you say about the year Wake had? Always a consistent pass rusher, he added more sacks to his game and finished the year with our highest grade of all 4-3 defensive ends. He managed an astonishing 86 combined sacks, hits, and hurries and some underrated work in run defense. Even in signing him to a new deal the Dolphins got instant value that only a big regression in his way play will undo.

2012 Cap Hit: $2.1m
2012 Performance Based Value: $15.1m
Value Differential: +$13m

2. Reshad Jones, Safety

When fifth-round picks come good then they’re going to offer some excellent value in their rookie contract. Jones, the 163rd pick of the 2010 draft, did exactly that in his breakout year, finishing third overall in our safety rankings. Even with the missed tackles (14) you couldn’t help but notice how well he played, logging four picks, four pass break ups, 21 defensive stops and 13 quarterback disruptions. Now that’s value.

2012 Cap Hit: $585k
2012 Performance Based Value: $8.7m
Value Differential: +$8.1m

3. Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback

With rookies more prepared than ever for the rigors of the NFL and a rookie wage cap impacting how much teams spend on them, it means those making an immediate impact are already providing a return on the investment in them. It wasn’t a perfect year for Tannehill, but our 13th-ranked quarterback on the year provided a spark at the position that bodes well for years to come.

2012 Cap Hit: $2.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $9.5m
Value Differential: +$7.2m

4. Brian Hartline, WR – Cap: $1.4m, PBV: $4.3m, Value Differential: +$2.9m

5. Chris Clemons, S – Cap: $1.4, PBV: $4m, Value Differential: +$2.7m

6. Koa Misi, LB – Cap: $1.1m, PBV: $3.3m, Value Differential: +$2.1m

7. Mike Pouncey, C – Cap: $2.1m, PBV: $4.1m, Value Differential: +$2m

8. Kevin Burnett, LB – Cap: $5.3m, PBV: $6.8m, Value Differential: +$1.5m

9. Nolan Carroll, CB – Cap: $590k, PBV: $1.4m, Value Differential: +$810k

10. Sean Smith, CB – Cap: $850k, PBV: $1.6m, Value Differential: +$750k



1. Jake Long, Offensive Tackle

Not exactly the kind of season you want to have in a contract year. Long battled injury and looked a long way off the elite tackle who had graced the league in his first three campaigns as a Dolphin. Missing time didn’t help, but the problems started a long way before that with Long finishing only 21st in our Pass Blocking Efficiency metric. Coupled with a negative run blocking grade, Long was never going to live up to the big cap hit.

2012 Cap Hit: $12.8m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.2m
Value Differential: -$11.6m

2. Karlos Dansby, Linebacker

This isn’t a reflection on the play of Dansby, but rather the pay afforded to him. Indeed Dansby would finish the year our fifth-ranked middle linebacker with his work in run defense particularly impressive. But for a linebacker to be worth that kind of cap hit you really need to see them doing a lot more.

2012 Cap Hit: $11.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $7m
Value Differential: -$4.3m

3. Reggie Bush, Running Back

Bush failed to turn his 227 carries into a 1,000 yard season and he failed to justify his big $6 million cap hit. His fumbles (four of them) were a big problem and he didn’t have the sort of impact in the passing game that would make it impossible for the Dolphins to let him hit free agency. At his core he remains the same back who goes searching for space to do his best work.

2012 Cap Hit: $6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.7m
Value Differential: -$4.3m

4. Tony McDaniel, DT – Cap: $4.2m, PBV: $825k, Value Differential: -$3.3m

5. Matt Moore, QB – Cap: $3.8m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$3.1m

6. Richard Marshall, CB – Cap: $3.7m, PBV: $825k, Value Differential: -$2.9m

7. Jared Odrick, DE – Cap: $3.1m, PBV: $940k, Value Differential: -$2.2m

8. Paul Soliai, DT – Cap: $4.1m, PBV: $2.2m, Value Differential: -$1.9m

9. Randy Starks, DT – Cap: $5m, PBV: $3.1m, Value Differential: -$1.9m

10. Richie Incognito, OG – Cap: $4.9m, PBV: $3.8m, Value Differential: -$1.1m

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


Summary – Team Value Differential: +$6.1m

The Dolphins are in credit, thanks in large part to the Cameron Wake savings that cancelled out how much went to waste on a disappointing year for Jake Long.  Not bad work for a team heading in the right direction.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • Ronniec

    Not sure how those numbers measure up but they seem OTT as far as Matt Moore is concerned!

    • Martin

      I think it’s hurt by the fact that some backup QBs are veterans getting paid around $4 million per year (like Matt Moore), while some are guys on their rookie deals (getting paid under $1 million per year).

      That’s a weakness to this type of study – assigning “value” to backup players who rarely see the field without taking into account their level of experience.

      While a backup QB who plays very few snaps per season while on his rookie deal is cheaper/”better value” than a veteran backup like Matt Moore, a veteran backup (presumably) is a better insurance policy than an inexperienced one.

      At least, that’s the only explanation I can think of – Moore played well in the few snaps he was given as Tannehill’s backup.

    • Nathan Jahnke

      The reason is because this is a retrospective look on the season, and because Moore only played in 56 snaps, for this season he wasn’t worth the nearly 4 million he made. It was basically an insurance policy that outside of one game the Dolphins didn’t need in 2012. If this were predictive he would be worth more.

      • Ronniec

        That was my point – Moore was a veteran insurance policy & thus any seasonal number allocated to him would be so misrepresentative that it should not have been included.

        • mike

          why do the fins even have an insurance policy? because their superbowl chances go kaput without the starter? this team didn’t even have playoff aspirations, nevermind anything else. you shouldn’t be insuring optimistic aspirations of a 7-9 season with 3% of the cap for a player that will likely never play.

        • Predrag

          Think of Matt Moore’s score as being the value of the insurance money spent, relative to comparable options. If you get 56 snaps from an asset costing $4 mil, and another team gets 60 snaps from Matt Leinart making $700,000, then the actual value of Matt Moore is $3.3 mil in the B/U market.
          Use the past to better manage the future.
          Also, it’s the teams responsibility to utilize the players they pay.

  • Finz

    Why is this done by cap hit and not average per year?

    • Nathan Jahnke

      Because we’re looking at if teams got their values worth this past year rather than if they are getting their money’s worth over the full contract.

  • william

    kind of odd 1300 yards and 8 td’s is only worth $1.7 million. Did you watch any phin games when you concluded it was Bushs fault his numbers dont look good in the passing game?Because i dont remember tons of passes going his way until the end of the season when they changed things up a bit.