Performance Based Value: Quarterbacks

Many big-name quarterbacks fell short of their sizable cap hits in 2012. Khaled Elsayed discusses the 10 worst QB values.

| 4 years ago

Performance Based Value: Quarterbacks

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 who the most overvalued quarterbacks in the league are?

1. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

2012 Cap Hit: $13.9m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.6m
Value Differential: -$11.2m

It didn’t quite work out for Michael Vick this year. Limited to 684 snaps after injury ended his season, Vick was struggling long before Nick Foles moved under center. Our 32nd-ranked quarterback (out of 38 who played enough snaps), the former Falcon had plenty of problems under pressure, completing just 41.4% of his pressured passes (28th out of 38) while being responsible for five of the sacks he took.

2. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

2012 Cap Hit: $15.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $5m
Value Differential: -$10.3m

The fall from grace continues. There’s no denying that between 2008 and 2010 Philip Rivers earned his contract, but the past two years things just haven’t gone right. We were prepared to put 2011 down to a lockout-assisted blip, but his play regressed further this year with a 28th overall ranking and, amid a failing offensive line, some serious gun shy behavior. Rivers set a new PFF record for throwaways in a season with 42 of them — a significant portion coming when pressure wasn’t there.

3. Sam Bradford, St Louis Rams

2012 Cap Hit: $15.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $8.2m
Value Differential: -$7.3m

The perils of a system before there was a rookie wage cap. Players who really hadn’t proven a thing were handed big deals, and Bradford is a prime example. Maddeningly inconsistent, the glimpses of first-overall pick talent are all too few, while the off-target balls are all too frequent. His Accuracy Percentage was only 23rd (out of 28).

4. Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals

2012 Cap Hit: $10.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $3.8m
Value Differential: -$6.7m

Would Kolb have represented good value for money if he stayed healthy? We’ll never know, but history suggests not. On the bright side he had started to look like a competent quarterback before succumbing to the beating his line was ushering to him.

5. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

2012 Cap Hit: $7.9m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.4m
Value Differential: -$5.5m

What can you say about Mark Sanchez? On the bright side his $7.9m cap hit wasn’t as bad as it could be thanks to some offseason maneuverings. However, with his play on the field there really was no bright side, and his lack of progression from that raw rookie is rightly earning him much criticism. Only Brandon Weeden had a lower grade, and Sanchez fully earned his benching with a series of lifeless games.

6. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs

2012 Cap Hit: $7.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.9m
Value Differential: -$4.7m

In 593 snaps Cassel did as much as possible to ensure no self-respecting talent evaluator, coach, or person watching football could see him as a franchise quarterback. Afforded excellent protection and a strong running game, Cassel just couldn’t stretch the field, having an Accuracy Percentage of 36.1 on deep balls — only 23rd in the league.

7. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2012 Cap Hit: $8.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $4.4m
Value Differential: -$4.2m

You see why the Bucs aren’t exactly endorsing Josh Freeman as their long-term option at quarterback. When they needed him to step up and carry the team he just couldn’t get the job done and his performance in the second half of the season was alarming to say the least, throwing 12 picks in the final seven games. With a weapon like Vincent Jackson, he really doesn’t have any excuses for not doing more.

8. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

2012 Cap Hit: $9.3m
2012 Performance Based Value: $5.6m
Value Differential: -$3.6m

Smith would finish the year our 18th-ranked quarterback despite playing only 501 snaps (less than that of Colin Kaepernick). That was a reflection of the solid job he was doing, and protected by the most complete roster in the league, it was enough to succeed. However, the 49ers realized that there would be a time when they needed their quarterback to make plays, and Smith (who attempted deep passes on only 8.7% of passes — second lowest in the league) was never that guy.

9. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans

2012 Cap Hit: $7.5m
2012 Performance Based Value: $4.2m
Value Differential: -$3.3m

The strange thing is Hasselbeck played reasonably well when he was forced into the lineup for a hurt Jake Locker. Sure he started off really slow, but his displays from Week 6 to 10 highlighted a guy still capable of producing. In essence, exactly what you’d want out of a backup. You just don’t want your backup quarterback being responsible for a $7.5m cap hit.

10. Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks

2012 Cap Hit: $4m
2012 Performance Based Value: $700k
Value Differential: -$3.3m

Such was the plight of Flynn that he actually played more snaps for the Packers in 2009, 2010, and 2011 than the 39 he managed for the Seahawks this year. Of course you can’t blame Seattle for the rapid development of Russell Wilson, but Flynn amounted to wasted money. Not that they’ll be bemoaning their luck with Wilson at the helm for years to come.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • Ian

    The obvious point on Alex Smith is that he was on pace to outperform his contract before being benched. The niners made up that “lost value” and more with Kaep.

    • Joe Kamel

      A #1 overall pick making 9.3 million dollars shouldnt be benched. He earned that benching with years and years of bad play that one good half-season (behind the league’s #1 offensive line) doesnt make up for.

  • BigPlayReceiver

    I like this metric…a lot. I also hate fantasy football…alot. However, you guys should create a GM-type fantasy league around this metric. Make it a keeper league. Largest, positive value differential = winner.

    • Joe Kamel

      Fantasy football is easy, dont draft anything besides a RB/WR/FLEX untill round 5.