Performance Based Value: The New CBA

Nathan Jahnke uses PFF's Performance Based Value to look at the impact of the new CBA and value in rookie contracts.

| 4 years ago

Performance Based Value: The New CBA

We are nearing the end of our first crack at Performance Based Value as we’ve run through every team and are getting close to finishing every position.

We knew this methodology would show many players who were injured for most of 2012 on the overvalued list. One other trend that emerged from this analysis was how the old and new Collective Bargaining Agreements affected the value of high draft picks over the past five years.

The results are exactly as you would expect, with players in their rookie contract in the new CBA being undervalued, and those in their rookie contract from the old CBA being overvalued. What might surprise you is just how exceptionally true that is.


Part of the CBA signed in the summer of 2011 was the understanding that, going forward, rookies would be paid significantly less than they were in the past. This means that if a draft pick plays well, that player quickly becomes massively undervalued and the team gets him on a bargain for multiple years. On the other hand, if the team swings and misses, they’ve lost the opportunity to secure a contributing talent, but it doesn’t cause substantial salary cap problems.

The average first-round draft pick over the last two years was undervalued by $1.8 million in 2012. Second-rounders were undervalued by $1.2 million, and players taken in the third, $1.1 million. It makes sense to keep teams who missed on draft picks from facing huge salary cap problems, but when you take someone like Russell Wilson, I don’t believe it is fair to make him wait a few more years before he can make anywhere near the amount of money he deserves.

Below are the Top 10 draft picks from 2011 and 2012. While not everyone is massively outplaying their contract, the median player was undervalued by $2.7 million in 2012. Clearly, at this time and in the future, if you get a good draft pick it will take a few years before he becomes a salary cap concern.

NamePosYearPick2012 Cap Hit2012 PBVValue Differential  
Cam NewtonQB20111$5.0$10.4+$5.4
Von MillerOLB20112$4.8$18.0+$13.2
Marcell DareusDT20113$4.6$5.6+$0.9
A.J. GreenWR20114$4.5$9.8+$5.3
Patrick PetersonCB20115$4.2$7.0+$2.8
Julio JonesWR20116$3.7$6.9+$3.2
Aldon SmithOLB20117$3.3$12.9+$9.7
Jake LockerQB20118$2.9$5.5+$2.7
Tyron SmithT20119$2.8$2.8+$0.0
Blaine GabbertQB201110$2.7$2.8+$0.1
Andrew LuckQB20121$4.0$8.5+$4.5
Robert Griffin IIIQB20122$3.8$11.3+$7.5
Trent RichardsonHB20123$3.7$5.8+$2.1
Matt KalilT20124$3.6$4.4+$0.8
Justin BlackmonWR20125$3.4$1.1-$2.3
Morris ClaiborneCB20126$3.0$1.5-$1.5
Mark BarronS20127$2.6$1.0-$1.6
Ryan TannehillQB20128$2.3$9.5+$7.2
Luke KuechlyLB20129$2.3$4.9+$2.6
Stephon GilmoreCB201210$2.2$2.2$0.0


In the old CBA, some first-round picks were signing five or even six-year deals, so many of the 2008 first-round picks are still on their rookie contract. On average, a first-round pick over this three-year span finished 2012 overvalued by $800,000. There were plenty of good first-round picks over those years, so some teams have ended up getting undervalued players, but more often than not they were overvalued.

The 2010 second- and third-round picks are still in their rookie contracts, while the 2009 draft class, in general, was either still in their rookie contract or playing for their restricted tender and are unrestricted for the upcoming season. The average second-round pick was undervalued by $1.5 million over those two years, which makes sense. Their cap hit isn’t much different than a second-round pick now, yet they have had additional time to develop.

Below are the Top 10 draft picks from 2008-2010. They clearly illustrate how broken the old rookie wage scale was, as the average player on this list was overvalued by $2.9 million dollars last year. This doesn’t even factor in players like Keith Rivers, Jason Smith, and Aaron Curry, players who are no longer with their original teams. They had much higher cap hits with those old teams, and if we had counted their cap hits against their old team as well, the $2.9 million overvalued figure would be even larger. Even if you were able to get a good player out of your draft pick like the Patriots did with Jerod Mayo, that just meant you were getting close to his value.

PosPFF NameDraftYearDraftPick2012 Cap Hit2012 PBVValue Differential
TJake Long20081$12.8$1.2-$11.6
EDChris Long20082$18.6$5.8-$12.8
QBMatt Ryan20083$13.5$13.3-$0.2
HBDarren McFadden20084$9.5$1.1-$8.4
DLGlenn Dorsey20085$8.8$0.8-$8.0
DLSedrick Ellis20087$7.6$1.0-$6.5
LBKeith Rivers20089$1.1$0.8-$0.3
LBJerod Mayo200810$9.2$10.3+$1.1
QBMatthew Stafford20091$8.9$9.6+$0.6
TJason Smith20092$2.5$1.1-$1.3
DLTyson Jackson20093$9.5$0.9-$8.6
LBAaron Curry20094$1.0$0.1-$0.9
QBMark Sanchez20095$7.9$2.4-$5.5
TAndre Smith Jr.20096$8.0$6.4-$1.7
WRDarrius Heyward-Bey20097$8.2$1.8-$6.4
TEugene Monroe20098$5.1$4.8-$0.3
DLB.J. Raji20099$5.5$5.3-$0.1
WRMichael Crabtree200910$4.8$7.9+$3.2
QBSam Bradford20101$15.6$8.3-$7.3
DLNdamukong Suh20102$6.6$9.8+$3.2
DLGerald McCoy20103$9.4$10.3+$0.9
TTrent Williams20104$14.0$6.9-$7.1
SEric Berry20105$8.1$1.7-$6.3
TRussell Okung20106$9.0$10.1+$1.2
CBJoe Haden20107$8.7$5.0-$3.7
LBRolando McClain20108$3.5$3.9+$0.4
HBC.J. Spiller20109$3.5$9.9+$6.4
DLTyson Alualu201010$3.1$1.0-$2.1

Closing Thoughts

In closing, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement got things more right than wrong when it came to paying rookies. Take a look at the St. Louis Rams who were consistently picking near the top of the draft: they ended up with Chris Long who is a great pass rusher, Sam Bradford who is an average starting quarterback, and Jason Smith who was a bust. While they would’ve liked somewhat better players with those three picks of course, those selections shouldn’t have cost the Rams such a high percentage of their cap hit. It’s something that makes sense and Performance Based Value just provides more evidence to support it.


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.

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