Player contracts and the salary cap is one of the wonkiest aspects of following professional football. It’s also an area where savvy management can really make a huge difference. It’s easy to point to the Seattle Seahawks way back when Russell Wilson was on his rookie deal and appreciate how the value he provided left extra room to beef up other parts of the roster. It’s not as obvious how teams like the Eagles manage their cap, or how the Joe Flacco contract restructure was a smart move by John Elway.
The site I trust most when it comes to player contracts and cap stuff is Over the Cap, so when I saw Nick Korte share a tweet about their valuation metric by Jason Fitzgerald I had to find out more.
I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Broncos fans dropped their jaws in disbelief, and were suddenly silenced.... https://t.co/iF0BvkFQja— Nick Korte (@nickkorte) November 20, 2019
If you’re looking to figure out more about the valuation metric, I strongly recommend the introductory article here. The long and short of it is Fitzgerald and Over the Cap combined four different metrics to re-assign salaries that best explain a players true on field worth.
My conversation with Jason is lightly edited for clarity.
1st and 10
So looking at the player valuation metric and it’s really> interesting. You mention that these valuations are not the free agent valuation because of the marketplace. So Broncos Country shouldn’t look at say Shelby Harris’ $13.628 million value and think he’s playing himself out of Denver’s budget?
No, I think you still have to take a much wider view. Free agency is impacted by so many soft factors like where a player was drafted, his age, positional needs around the NFL, and so on that I wouldn’t take a number from this and just assume that a player will make a killing as a free agent.
I think they can provide a gauge of interest around the NFL and perhaps identify for a team where a bargain may exist. Using Harris as an example we have his season number at $9.5 million (the $13 million number is just for week 11) which ranks third among 3-4 DE’s and 4-3 DT’s who are going to be free agents. That number ranks higher than Leonard Williams, but it would be surprising to me if Harris earned more than Williams in free agency.
In looking at the available free agents who rank at $6.5 million or more in our valuation metric we have Gerald McCoy, Michael Brockers, Maliek Collins, Chris Jones, Williams, and Derek Wolfe to go along with Harris. Harris fits somewhere in the middle of that group depending on what a team is looking for.
2nd and 14
A couple of other incoming free agents that also caught my attention were Connor McGovern ($11.89 million) and Justin Simmons (just $4.43 M). I’ve had this fear that Simmons is going to break the safety market wide open this year and that McGovern would be tough to retain. Any thoughts on that?
On the season wide metric both rank relatively high. We have Simmons at just over $12 million on the year and by far the top rated free agent safety. Considering Kevin Byard recently signed an extension for just over $14 million there would be no reason for Simmons to sign for less if he was to bypass free agency and instead sign an extension.
Basically it’s a perfect storm for Simmons with the only thing that would make him a stronger free agent was if he was on a team in contention where he got more attention. Safety is a tricky position in free agency and maybe the Broncos could try to use that as part of a sales pitch but he should do pretty well.
McGovern was our top rated center last week and we have him at 5th on the year and neck and neck with the Ravens Matt Skura as best available free agent. Considering they let Matt Paradis walk away last year I would think they would do the same here. Teams usually take an all or nothing approach at the position and I think the Broncos history has been to go with the low cost approach.
3rd and 8
Any thoughts on why Tim Patrick is so high on the value chart after returning to action after eight weeks on I.R?
Patrick’s value was high just for the one week where he had a nice game of 77 yards on 8 targets with around 73% playtime. That type ofperformance over the course of a season would likely be in the high number 2 receiver range which is why he was nearly at $11 millon for the week. He is under $500,000 for the season simply because he spent so much time off the field
4th and 4
One of the things I found really enlightening as I dug into the tool is how it shines a little light on how some of the Broncos’ young contributors are playing in their new roles. Brandon Allen immediately caught my eye at a hair over $22 million. Is that because of his position alone, or did Elway perhaps find something here?
You definitely have to take position into account as our values are based on the market for his position and pretty much anyone who starts at QB in the NFL would be around $16 million. In his two starts we had Allen around $15 million, which was 5th from the bottom in week 9, and then $22 million, which was 13th overall in week 11. It’s only two games so it’s too early to say anything but if you are looking for relatively good play you would want to see a few weeks $20 million+ in our metric.