Per Game Roster Bonuses and Injured Reserve


I had a few questions on players going on IR that have roster bonuses paid per game and how they are treated against the salary cap so its a good topic to touch on. In the last two weeks we have seen Dwight Freeney and Ahmad Bradshaw both go on the IR for their respective teams. In the case of Freeney he had $31,250 in weekly roster bonuses while Bradshaw had $40,625 in weekly bonuses per information I had on the two players contracts.

To determine the salary cap savings for a team the first thing that we need to do is identify the “likely to be earned” portion of a players roster bonus. That portion would be based on games played in 2012( assuming that the bonus is paid for games on the active 46 man roster, which I believe is the case here). For both players that was 14 games, so that makes Freeney’s LTBE charge $437,500 and Bradshaw’s $568,750.

From there we determine the money that was actually earned, which is calculated by games played multiplied by the weekly bonus. Freeney played in 4 games while Bradshaw suited up for 3. That will make the actual earnings just $125,000 and $121,975 respectively. The cap savings are the LTBE charge minus the actual earnings. That works out to be $446,875 for the Colts and $312,500 for the Chargers.

The League, as far as I know, will not credit with teams with the cap savings in the current league year. What they will do is use the money to offset NLTBE incentives that were actually earned by other players at the end of the year and then make an adjustment to the salary cap for each team the following season to reflect the numbers.

So to make a long story short the injuries to  the two players will not effect this years cap but will help the Colts and Chargers have higher salary cap limits than other teams in the NFL in 2014.


Stock Up: Week 3


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have helped their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that exceeded all expectations and provided exceptional value to his team.

Stock Up

Greg Hardy– With One year remaining on his rookie contract Hardy is ready to break the bank. I had rated Hardy as the 2nd best overall 43DE in the NFL in 2012, behind only Cameron Wake of the Miami Dolphins. Hardy absolutely overwhelmed the Giants on Sunday racking up 3 sacks and setting the tone for the defense all day. Provided the Panthers can afford him, and they had recently restructured a contract to perhaps get a deal done, Hardy has a great starting point for negotiations on his own team. The Panthers had given Charles Johnson a 6 year $76 million dollar contract with $32 million in full guarantees back in 2011. Distancing himself from Johnson gives him a tremendous base contract to work with. Games like his Sunday performance only stand to give him more leverage for getting a contract extension done sooner rather than later. With the future of Julius Pepper and, to a lesser extent, Mario Williams in doubt I think it’s important to get a deal done soon so the Panthers can sign Hardy and at least say to themselves he is not the highest paid in the NFL, even though he will be when those players are no longer active on their current contracts.

Santonio Holmes– Most people have written Holmes, a talented but often disgruntled receiver, off following a poor showing in 2011 followed by a foot injury in 2012 and questions about his determination to play in 2013. Due to his contract structure Holmes was forced to take a $3.5 million dollar paycut to remain on the Jets. Next year he is due to earn $9.5 million from the Jets and with just $2.5 million in dead money in his contract that makes this a contract year for Holmes. Holmes had a number of big catches, including the game winner, and averaged over 30 yards per reception. The Jets have a young QB finding his way in the NFL and if Holmes develops the chemistry with Geno Smith that he lacked with Mark Sanchez he becomes a hard player to just release. Even if he is released Holmes needed to use this season to prove that he can still be a high level player and command a $7+ million a year type contract, a number most would have said was crazy before the season. A few more games close to the one he had on Sunday and he’ll be able to stand on top of the WR2 market.

Doug Free– It is not often that we give credit to the guys on the line, especially ones like Free, who has had a rough time of it in Dallas, but Free yesterday really played a terrific game in Dallas. The Rams are a decent team with a number of pieces on defense that can pressure the QB and get into the backfield and stuff runs or knock down the QB. Watching the highlights from the game I was surprised at how good Free looked in sealing the right side for the run game and seemingly never letting anyone near his QB, including some big blocks on two TD passes.  I waited until Pro Football Focus posted their evaluation since they watch every snap compared to my highlight reel watching and Free graded extremely high under their criteria. Free took a pay cut this year and has $3.5 million in salary coming his way in 2014 if he is on the roster in early March. Most never would have thought Free would see that money but games like this will see him keep that roster spot at that salary next season.

New Contract Player Of The Week

Ahmad Bradshaw– All offseason Bradshaw was like a forgotten player. He was cut by the Giants for salary cap purposes and then remained unemployed until June when the Colts took a flier on Bradshaw for just $2 million dollars. Bradshaw has always been productive when he is close to 100%, but health is always a concern and that may have scared some teams away. When injury to starting RB Vick Ballard opened up more touches the Colts instead turned to the trade table rather than trusting Bradshaw with more work. In return Bradshaw played like a man possessed running for 95 yards on just 19 carries against a defense that was considered elite while his new teammate could only muster 35 yards against the same defense. Bradshaw proved to be terrific value for the Colts on Sunday.

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Revaluing the Running Back Marketplace


Now that contracts have kind of slowed down I wanted to get back into doing positional valuations, this time with a focus on Running Backs. As is usual the raw data comes from Pro Football Focus with the analysis of numbers being somewhat unique. In general I want to grade running backs on 3 categories: Yards After Contact,  Player Generated Yards Before Contact, and Player Generated Yards Per Target.

Yards After Contact

I think this is pretty simple and straightforward. Once touched whatever yards a runner gains are essentially all due to his effort. The average in the league last year was around 2.5. Of runners with more than 50 attempts the best average was actually Justin Forsett, now of the Jaguars, with 4.11 YAC per attempt. Adrian Peterson was second at 3.93 and CJ Spiller third at 3.58.  The bottom three were Beanie Wells, Danny Woodhead, and Bilal Powell. This is the one pure PFF stat.

Player Generated Yards Before Contact

Running the rushing numbers for all teams we can determine just how many rushing yards are attributed to an offensive line keeping hands off a player. Last season the top 3 were the Chiefs (2.59), Titans(2.23), and Seahawks(2.15) while the Panthers pulled up the rear (0.98). I adjusted each teams numbers to exclude the specific runner in question which allows us to determine just how many yards before contact that player generates compared to all other runners on the team. In essence this tells us if a player is hitting the hole faster than others and determining yards before contact that are attributed to the runner as much as the up front blocking. The top 3 in this category were Chris Johnson (1.74), Jamaal Charles (1.36), and Maurice Jones-Drew (1.15). The worst three were Peyton Hills (-1.71), Rashad Jennings (-1.21), and Fred Jackson (-0.98).

Player Generated Yards Per Target

The average YPT last year among runners was about 6.19. With that in mind we can calculate how many additional yards a player generated on pass routes than an average running back. On a per catch basis the best players with at least 20 targets were Isaac Redman(6.0), Ahmad Bradshaw(3.7), and Danny Woodhead(3.42).


By adding those numbers up we can calculate how many additional yards a player generated for his team last season as well as his average Yards Per Touch. It should come as no shock that Adrian Peterson comes in first with 1504.9 credited yards. Quite simply Peterson carried that team in a manner few other players could. He generated close to 600 yards of additional offense compared to a regular player. The next closest player was Alfred Morris at 1069.6 yards but he only generated around 185 yards of additional offense.

That being said the most interesting number might be that of the Bills CJ Spiller. Spiller only touched the ball 250 times last year but in doing so generated 1019 additional yards. At 4.08 YPT he actually rates even higher than Peterson, who was second at 3.88. This is based primarily on the fact that Spiller is a terrific receiver while Peterson is below average. On a Yards Per Run basis Peterson outpaced Spiller 4.55 to 4.35. While it is certainly questionable that Spiller can carry the ball as much as Peterson and continue to hold up those two are so far and away the best in the NFL that nobody should even debate anyone else at this point as being the best two backs.  Of course you cant pay Spiller at that level until he proves he can handle the ball as much as some of these other players, but he’s deadly.

When you look for “cross your fingers” high upside players, Mike Goodson and Justin Forsett come to mind. Both barely made the 50 touch minimum cutoff but both put up good numbers in limited showings.  Montell Owens and Isaac Redman were also surprising high finishers. Owens is a limited showing guy while Redman is strictly from his efforts in the passing game last year. I was also shocked o see DeAngelo Williams in the top 10. Maybe his team being so bad up front and his lack of usage has more to do with how poor his regular numbers are moreso than his play.

On the opposite end of the spectrum come names like Shonn Greene who was below average in every category but got tons of touches to create decent overall numbers. Still he was far better than Darren McFadden, a high priced bust on the Raiders who should be let go based on his numbers while Trent Richardson was an absolute disaster as a rookie averaging just 1.19 player generated yards per touch.

Financial Analysis

I wanted to create a matrix that would re-distribute the dollars that are currently being spent on the NFL players that made my 50 touch cutoff. To do this I added up all the APY values for the players in the current NFL season to create the “runners market”. For those players who are without deals I just assumed they would be replaced by a UDFA making an average of $495,000 per year. The average APY is around $2.692 million and total value just under $210 million.

Originally I just planned to determine a players total yards generated above the average and use that as his value above the baseline of $2.692 million. Great, except immediately I realized how badly that was overstating players values who got a lot of use (Greene, Richardson, Steven Jackson, etc…) to inflate their yards despite the fact that it was not productive use. Now that does not mean that you simply look at a category like Yards per Touch to determine value either. Some credit needs to be given for a player who is capable of shouldering a load even though the numbers are so bad. My gut feeling tells me that their numbers would likely be better if used less and maybe that is something for teams to consider when signing such players.  I tend to think that was the feeling the Titans had with Greene.

To best compensate I calculated the players yards and compared it to the expected yardage of an average player. If the ratio was below 1 I penalized the player. For example Richardson only gained about 70% of the expected yards so I considered his 379 yards to be equivalent to paying for 265 yards. With those adjustments in place I was able to redistribute all the league dollars based on performance above or below the average score.

The Results

Not surprisingly the numbers work out that the upper echelon of the market is hyperinflated, which is certainly no surprise. Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson are both position busters and could almost never do anything to justify the salary they receive. Peterson had arguably the best season a back has ever had but there are enough good backs and ultra low salaries that the value just is not there at the high end. Peterson’s salary under this formula would be just under $11.4 million, a 19.8% decrease from his current APY.

I have 15 backs in my actual salary database that make over $5 million a year and of those 15 this metric indicates that only CJ Spiller, Jamaal Charles, and Marshawn Lynch are underpaid. Most of the others are grossly overpaid. McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Jonathan Stewart should have their salaries reduced by over 70% each. The big money jumpers would obviously be the rookies, with Alfred Morris leading the way giving you an $8 million or so performance on an APY less than 600K a year.  The Redskins are getting absolutely incredible production from Morris and fellow rookie QB RGIII for pennies which is how they survived last year despite major salary cap problems.

Of those players unsigned, Ahmad Bradshaw and Michael Turner should be able to give a team something significant and Felix Jones would also be an interesting player. In some ways its hard to believe they are not signed. In Turners case it probably needs to be the right situation in that he likely benefitted from an explosive offense making some situations a bit easier. Bradshaw and Jones have to have the injuries scaring teams off, Bradshaw in particular. Bradshaws numbers are all very good but he is injured a lot. It is difficult for teams to prepare when you have a player constantly coming in and out of the starting lineup. Still if he performs as he did last year he will give you around $5 million in value for probably the veteran’s minimum. If you make certain your offense is never in a position to over-rely on his presence you can mitigate the injury risk.

There were a handful of players whose projected salaries were so low that they don’t belong in the NFL anymore. They were Curtis Brinkley, Peyton Hills, Rashad Jennings, Ryan Williams, Shaun Draughn, Tashard Choice, and Toby Gerhart. Hillis was arguably the worst back in the NFL last season. Other players who would be close are Fred Jackson, whose projection probably does not meet his minimum salary, and Cedric Benson.

Here is the full list of players: All headers should be sortable. Please note that players like Bradshaw have their salary change based on a rookie FA salary.


Adrian Peterson1369215.8-79.91504.93.88$11,397,526-19.8%
Alfred Morris100184.4-15.81069.63.09$8,100,4801357.5%
Marshawn Lynch872157.122.81051.93.11$7,966,3416.2%
C.J. Spiller742158.6118.81019.44.08$7,720,41250.4%
Chris Johnson557480.5-34.21003.33.22$7,598,393-43.7%
Jamaal Charles634387.2-30.0991.23.10$7,506,97539.0%
Doug Martin1005-207.488.5886.12.41$6,710,657295.5%
Matt Forte597186.3-25.0758.32.60$5,743,010-24.4%
Frank Gore68237.823.7743.52.60$5,630,966-12.1%
Ray Rice606146.7-16.9735.82.31$5,572,579-20.4%
BenJarvus Green-Ellis576190.7-56.8689.52.37$5,222,08174.1%
Reggie Bush468193.5-4.9656.62.51$4,972,63624.3%
Ahmad Bradshaw55020.384.2654.52.68$4,956,630901.3%
DeAngelo Williams56212.469.5643.83.46$4,876,168-43.3%
Arian Foster76643.1-110.8570.11.79$4,317,651-50.4%
Stevan Ridley716-52.3-17.0553.12.18$4,189,244467.4%
Vick Ballard531-2.03.5513.12.34$3,886,102592.5%
Michael Turner50367.1-51.4472.22.15$3,575,946622.4%
LeSean McCoy5046.1-22.7465.31.92$3,523,733-60.8%
Willis McGahee39633.029.2458.22.37$3,470,29846.1%
Steven Jackson693-183.117.9444.81.78$3,368,961-15.8%
Jonathan Dwyer43358.8-48.6443.12.55$3,356,100153.7%
DeMarco Murray40026.5-2.6422.62.16$3,200,461330.5%
Isaac Redman332-45.5114.1400.63.11$3,033,620129.3%
Pierre Thomas29227.675.6395.22.74$2,993,1048.4%
Shonn Greene593-76.5-9.8379.51.72$2,874,326-13.8%
Joique Bell24529.982.9357.82.67$2,709,851330.1%
Ryan Mathews479-20.5-69.7341.71.74$2,587,756-45.3%
Bryce Brown382-14.9-55.3311.72.44$2,360,931339.1%
Daryl Richardson27266.6-28.8309.82.54$2,346,592374.1%
Bernard Pierce376-67.3-14.9293.92.56$2,225,577235.2%
Danny Woodhead12927.4136.7293.12.53$2,220,09826.9%
Donald Brown25918.112.6289.62.48$2,193,6275.1%
Jacquizz Rodgers256-14.237.0278.81.90$2,111,443278.6%
Darren Sproles9092.891.7274.52.23$2,079,117-40.6%
Felix Jones232-3.451.7272.92.06$2,066,420317.5%
Mike Goodson1714.496.0271.55.32$2,055,882-10.6%
Justin Forsett259-1.213.3271.14.11$2,052,990105.3%
Jonathan Stewart23514.120.9270.02.45$2,044,662-72.0%
Maurice Jones-Drew19698.5-25.3269.12.69$2,038,387-73.3%
Trent Richardson558-168.4-10.3264.81.19$2,005,300-60.9%
Darren McFadden41818.9-100.8251.01.30$1,901,153-72.9%
Marcel Reece200-7.956.8248.92.24$1,884,75592.0%
Andre Brown245-13.3-0.6231.12.72$1,750,570-13.5%
Mikel Leshoure431-45.7-64.4227.01.29$1,719,523100.3%
Robert Turbin1794.038.7221.72.24$1,679,213162.7%
Knowshon Moreno296-44.318.5220.21.70$1,667,998-51.2%
Kendall Hunter20328.3-14.2217.12.68$1,644,193165.3%
Shane Vereen133-3.987.1216.23.09$1,637,33589.2%
Montell Owens9153.751.1195.83.92$1,483,214-51.9%
David Wilson18927.5-21.7194.82.60$1,475,158-11.7%
Mark Ingram431-124.9-32.9192.91.69$1,460,766-21.2%
Ronnie Brown11551.724.6191.32.01$1,448,43072.4%
Mike Tolbert139-10.651.5179.92.22$1,362,421-45.5%
Bilal Powell19756.6-39.4179.11.69$1,356,771122.4%
Michael Bush262-61.415.0165.41.75$1,252,535-64.2%
Jackie Battle208-26.915.2164.91.78$1,248,732152.3%
Brandon Bolden1622.6-1.4163.22.81$1,236,285154.9%
Montario Hardesty13636.9-8.7157.72.45$1,194,01367.9%
Lamar Miller14013.11.7154.82.72$1,172,13381.3%
Alex Green284-27.5-48.2149.81.36$1,134,49676.1%
William Powell13523.6-10.3143.21.88$1,084,677126.0%
Rashard Mendenhall12210.46.3138.82.31$1,050,943-58.0%
Ronnie Hillman15716.1-12.2126.41.69$957,24127.6%
Cedric Benson156-14.64.2123.71.71$936,50113.5%
Beanie Wells12030.217.8122.41.89$927,35287.3%
LaRod Stephens-Howling257-24.8-67.2120.21.30$910,66316.8%
Daniel Thomas212-82.726.1119.61.47$905,64911.9%
Ben Tate171-13.5-19.0119.01.82$901,59523.4%
James Starks158-8.4-6.1115.21.91$872,16171.0%
Fred Jackson276-112.5-$735,882-83.1%
Curtis Brinkley76-12.92.852.01.29$394,038-20.4%
Ryan Williams136-40.0-17.950.81.20$384,463-69.3%
Toby Gerhart95-30.30.449.80.93$377,414-61.4%
Shaun Draughn107-30.9-$367,905-11.3%
Rashad Jennings195-122.9-12.329.50.50$223,669-64.5%
Tashard Choice923.7-46.728.50.96$216,083-72.3%
Peyton Hillis206-145.1-$151,535-69.4%

Wrapping up Today’s News- Bradshaw, Canty, and Bell Released; Vick Survives

While it has not yet reached a frantic pace of moves just yet its become apparent that the Lions and Giants are the most proactive teams in releasing players. The Lions have cut three players and now the Giants join them with the release of DT Chris Canty and RB Ahmad Bradshaw earlier this afternoon. The release of Canty saves the Giants $6.5 million in both cash and cap dollars while moving on from Bradshaw creates $2.75 million in additional cap room for the team while saving them $4 million in real dollars. Both releases were a bit different from the standpoint that the players and the organization had nothing but great things to say about each other despite the fact that the players were cut. One benefit for the players in this situation is that the early releases give them an early crack at free agency and the most opportunity to earn a good salary next year. Maybe more teams should consider doing that in the future.

T Demetress Bell, who had a poor year in Philadelphia, was never expected to see the 2013 season with the team, even when he signed his deal last season. It was an example of a pumped up contract designed to sound good in the media when the reality was far different. Philadelphia clears $9.6 million from the books with the move.

Today was also decision day in Philadelphia for QB Mike Vick, who now has $3 million of his salary fully guaranteed as the Eagles failed to release him. The Eagles will now control his rights and likely explore trade options before making a decision as to whether or not they need the cap space during free agency. Cutting Vick will still save the team $9.7 million in cap room and they can recapture the $3 million guarantee if another team signs him for at least that much money in 2013.

You can follow the league releases in our release tracker.