Performance Based Value: Minnesota Vikings

Thanks to Adrian Peterson and the positive contributions of their young players, the Vikings were able to come out on top in our roster-spending analysis.

| 4 years ago

Performance Based Value: Minnesota Vikings

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 Minnesota Vikings:

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



1. Antoine Winfield, Cornerback

At 35, Winfield still brings it every single down. So much so that he was our top rated corner on the year. His +25.5 grade came on the back of his linebacker-esque performance as a slot cornerback in run defense. When you compare his stats in the running game to other corners there is no comparison. Winfield’s grade of +14.6 in run defense was +6.9 better than any other corner, while his 7.3 Run Stop Percentage was 2.1 better than the next closest corner. He played exceptionally in 2012, and with a cap hit of only $3.0m, Winfield was a bargain.

Cap Hit: $3.0m
Performance Based Value: $10.5m
Value Differential: +$7.5m

 2. Phil Loadholt, Right Tackle

In the final year of his rookie deal, Loadholt put together his most complete season as a pro. He had never graded positively in both run and pass blocking until this season, when he finished with grades of +9.7 and +9.5 respectively. That was good enough to make him our eighth-best right tackle. He finished 19th among all tackles in Pass Blocking Efficiency, and allowed only four sacks on the season. He was nice value this year, but now that he is an impending free agent the question becomes, what will he be worth?

Cap Hit: $921k
Performance Based Value: $5.0m
Value Differential: +$4.0m

3. Harrison Smith, Safety

The rookie out of Notre Dame was a revelation in the Vikings’ secondary. Smith showed superb coverage skills that more than warranted his first-round selection. He had the second-lowest yards per coverage snap of any safety, and combined with Jamarca Sanford to have the lowest YPCS of any safety duo. The only knock on Smith was his fairly average numbers against the run, with a middling Run Stop Percentage and Tackling Efficiency. He wasn’t asked to be a box safety that often though, playing within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage only 18% of the time.

Cap Hit: $1.3m
Performance Based Value: $5.2m
Value Differential: +$3.9m


4. Blair Walsh, K – Cap: $419k, PBV: $4.3m, Value Differential: $3.9m

5. Kyle Rudolph, TE – Cap: $1.1m, PBV: $4.6m, Value Differential: $3.6m

6. Percy Harvin*, WR – Cap: $2.0m, PBV: $4.6m, Value Differential: $2.6m

7. Jamarca Sanford, S – Cap: $631k, PBV: $2.8m, Value Differential: $2.1m

8. Fred Evans, DT – Cap: $1.3m, PBV: $3.2m, Value Differential: $2.0m

9. John Sullivan, C – Cap: $4.0m, PBV: $5.6m, Value Differential: $1.6m

10. Brian Robison, DE – Cap: $4.0m, PBV: $4.9m, Value Differential: $944k



1. Jared Allen, Defensive End

Any player with a $14m cap hit is going to have a hard time returning good value. We graded only three players in the NFL this season worthy of that big of a cap hit. That being said, Allen still terribly underperformed his contract this season. His $11.2m deficit was the eighth-largest in the NFL. It was going to be almost impossible for Allen to match his near record-breaking performance from 2011, but he took a pretty significant step back. His 9.2 Pass Rushing Productivity was 16th among 4-3 ends, and his overall grade dropped 21.3 points from a year ago. Allen has a long way to go to gain positive value out of the last year of his deal. His cap hit in 2013 will grow to the ninth-largest in the NFL, at $17m.

Cap Hit: $14.2m
Performance Based Value: $3.0m
Value Differential: -$11.2m

2. Chad Greenway, Outside Linebacker

When Greenway is at his best he is one of the most complete outside linebackers in the game. Unfortunately, 2012 was far from his best. For the second year in a row he led all linebackers in yards allowed in coverage. He has never been the most sure tackling linebacker and that didn’t change last season. Greenway’s 9.6 Tackling Efficiency was 18th among outside linebackers, and his second-lowest in the past five seasons. Where Greenway was still very valuable though was his durability. He played the most snaps of any linebacker and missed only nine all season.

Cap Hit: $7.7m
Performance Based Value: $2.0m
Value Differential: -$5.7m

 3. John Carlson, Tight End

At the time it seemed like one of the odder free agent signings. Carlson signed a five-year, $25m contract last offseason just a year after the Vikings drafted Kyle Rudolph in the second round. Then, once the season started Rudolph got the vast majority of the snaps, and Vikings fans everywhere were scratching their heads. Carlson ended up playing just 255 snaps on the season. When he did play his production was scarce, with a Yards Per Route Run of only 0.39. With his signing bonus, the Vikings would actually lose money from their cap in 2013 if they cut him, so it looks like he’ll be the second-string tight end for a while.

Cap Hit: $4.0m
Performance Based Value: $700k
Value Differential: -$3.3m

4. Charlie Johnson, G – Cap: $3.9m, PBV: $1.0m, Value Differential: -$2.8m

5. Kevin Williams, DT – Cap: $8.4m, PBV: $6.6m, Value Differential: -$1.8m

6. Letroy Guion, DT – Cap: $1.9m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$1.2m

7. Jerome Simpson, WR – Cap: $1.9m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$1.2m

8. Chris Kluwe, P – Cap: $1.6m, PBV: $825k, Value Differential: -$813k

9. Michael Jenkins, WR – Cap: $1.7m, PBV: $941k, Value Differential: -$728k

10. Toby Gerhart, HB – Cap: $1.4m, PBV: $746k, Value Differential: -$627k


Summary – Team Value Differential: +$8.6m

With a 10-6 season and a playoff appearance, the Vikings managed to have a positive value differential. It helped that Adrian Peterson was able to earn almost every cent of his $12m deal. It also helped that they had so many players on rookie contracts making big contributions. The only troubling thing moving forward is that almost all of their overvalued contracts will stay on the books, and continue to grow in some cases, while starters like Phil Loadholt, Erin Henderson, and Jamarca Sanford hit free agency.



Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Derrick

    Matt Kalil?

    • Mike Renner

      Just outside the top 10 undervalued

  • Kevin

    I’m sorry, I know AD makes a lot of money, but there’s no way you can say that he didn’t outplay his contract this year. He was by far the best running back in the league and put together an all-time season at that position. You said that J.J. Watt earned what, $18 million on performance? AD at the very least earned the same, if not more. Total BS to say that he had that kind of season and you say that he only barely lived up to his contract.

    • Mike Renner

      There are some limitations to our model. We made the assumption that values are fairly represented by current cap hits at each position and not future possible ones. Right now running backs cap hits are far less than edge defenders so that is why we valued Peterson’s performance much lower than Watt’s.

      • Attaturk

        One thing that seems consistent under your modeling is that Running Backs do not ever seem to grade particularly high in comparison to other positions. Peterson had one of the greatest years any runner has had, yet by your model his numbers overall grade lower than many others — he may have been among the highest rated backs, but that doesn’t change the fact your model seems to have a flaw when it comes to the position.

        • Mike Renner

          I don’t know if I would call it flawed if you take into account what we are trying to do. We are using the actual contracts that existed at each position so that our model reflects how the NFL ‘values’ those positions.

          Here are the averages of the top 10 cap hits at a few positions:

          Edge Defender: $13.6m

          QB: $12.8m

          WR: $10.4m

          CB: $9.7m

          Tackle: $9.5m

          Linebacker: $9.1m

          Interior DLine: $9.0m

          Running Back: $8.7m

          Tight End: $6.3m

          As you can see, running backs get paid considerably less than many positions. That’s just how the NFL pays those positions. So if there were a bunch of guys above Peterson, its because the NFL pays a bunch of guys more. Only five quarterbacks in our model had higher values than Adrian Peterson, which I think is fair. Now there are also five pass rushers with higher values than Peterson which I don’t think is probably true, but is representative of how each positions is paid.

          I do think there is a minor flaw to our model though and its not the running back positions. I think the model is flawed when it comes to ‘off the charts’ performances. This is why we moved JJ Watt’s position to edge defender instead of interior lineman. The model creates a sort of soft cap at the highest cap hit at that position and players can’t go too far above it.This probably effected guys like Peterson, Geno Atkins, and Watt.

  • Matthew

    Interesting look at it. What were Peterson’s numbers? Also (just a heads up) the value differential for Harrison Smith is incorrect. Should be 3.9

    • Mike Renner

      He was almost exactly at his cap hit of $12.7m

    • Mike Renner

      And thanks for pointing that out. I’ll try to get it fixed.

  • Mike

    Jared Allen seems to have eric moulds syndrome, great one year, mediocre the next, this season is odd numbered, so i expect great things again.

  • Eric

    Does paying for conent get each player’s 2012 analysis?

  • jim

    Remember though, Allen played with a torn shoulder all year…

  • dz

    i say you give allen a 5mill contract or let him go love the guy but he is getting older for sure.. and you get RID of Will he really hasnt done much and you need to get new guys on the Dline..

  • reggie

    Vikings had previously set a 5 million per year ceiling on Loadholt, only going above it because the Bears drove up the price. Sanford was signed to 2.5 mil a year when you guys had his PBV at 2.8 million. Was Felton by any chance valued ~2,5 million? Henderson ~2.0 million?

    Seems like the Vikings FO placed similar levels of value for all of the players they re-signed.