Jason Fitzgerald

Jason is the founder of overthecap.com. Jason is considered an expert in NFL salary cap and contracts analysis and has consulted on many projects in the field of NFL contracts. He is a contributor to the Sporting News and has been interviewed by many news outlets to discuss contract related issues for specific teams and players.

Recent Posts by Jason

Thoughts on Derek Carr’s New Contract

Derek Carr became the highest paid player in NFL history earlier today when he signed a 5 year, $125 million contract extension. The $25 million a year annual value is a new benchmark and of course it came with every superlative there was, but there are a number of ways to benchmark contracts and generally APY is among the most limited so lets jump a little into some of the concepts that should be looked at with “market setting” contracts. (more…)

Roster Turnover in 2017: Number 32-21

Though there are still a number of free agents who have a chance of landing with a team by the start of training camp, I think this is a good time to look ahead at how many changes may be in store for teams from last season.  Every year teams are faced with questions related to both performance and finances which leads to changes in a team’s roster. Sometimes the players are stars while other times they are very good but often overlooked talent that contributes to the overall success of a team. So which teams are looking at the most changes this upcoming season?

To get a better idea I wanted to score each team in 4 categories. The first category is the percentage of total snaps lost which every simply looks at how many snaps that were on the end of the 2016 rosters are no longer on the team in 2017. The second category looks at the quality of snaps lost. What this entails is the amount of players who were lost that are actually on other rosters in 2017. While we often are disappointed when teams fail to re-sign free agents or cut the players for whatever reasons, many times the rest of the league doesn’t view those players of even contributing to a team. We pull those out to better identify the important players who were dropped. Likewise special teams do play a role so we are also looking at the percent of snaps lost on specials. Finally to get the best idea of how good or bad the players were who were lost we turn towards a market value.  The average APY lost is the dollars per player being spent by the rest of the NFL on the quality players still good enough to land in the NFL. Averaging those scores out we come to a final ranking in which a higher score indicated the least change and low score indicates important changes. Ideally I would like to add a category for players added to see how much better or worse the team could be this year, but that’s difficult to do with teams rosters at 90 and is better to look at in September.

For the first post we will look at teams 32-21, which are the teams that will be bringing back most of their important players from last year.

32. Chargers

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
15.0%5.3%2.8%$1,966,66729.3

Los Angeles did drop close to 25% of their offensive snaps from 2016, primarily on their offensive line, but the O-line was terrible last year and the league has shown little interest in the players the team dropped. The average salary for those who signed elsewhere is under $2 million so clearly they did not lose anything of note. The team was just 5-11 last year and only added Russell Okung to a contract of note so the Chargers are banking on a coaching change to get more out of a bad team.

31. Steelers

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
9.8%6.5%4.8%$3,013,00027.0

The Steelers have done a very good job of transitioning from a very old to a much younger team and they will be keeping this squad together for some time. The teams biggest notable loss was Lawrence Timmons to Miami, but given the teams approach to the future I don’t think you can blame them for making that move. While they could be impacted by a franchise holdout by Bell, the team has always showed year to year consistency and should be coming back with a very similar outlook for this season.

30. Eagles

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
12.2%9.4%6.4%$2,835,55625.5

When the Eagles made all those aggressive contract extensions in early 2016 I said that the team was going to be a WYSIWYG team for the next two or three years and they are holding that pattern. The team lost only 0.9% of their snaps on offense and was able to find a way to add Blount, Jeffery, and Smith so they need Carson Wentz to show a big leap this year to get more out of the team. They sacrificed a bit on defense to keep adding to the offense by letting Bennie Logan walk and cutting Connor Barwin, but the defense was a problem either way.

29.Falcons

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
16.8%3.8%18.5%$2,050,00024

I found the Falcons to be an interesting team.  Basically nobody who left the team was looked at as worth being signed by another team. For the most part their free agents and cuts were all situational guys buy generally on a Super Bowl team other teams covet those players and that wasn’t the case here. I would have liked to have seen another player or two defect that was a bigger contributor to get a better feel for how the rest of the NFL views this team, but they clearly have their important pieces intact this year.

28. Chiefs

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
9.3%8.9%7.9%$3,381,18823.75

With the Chiefs in a bit of a salary cap pinch they couldn’t add much nor could they afford to lose much. By spending a first round pick on a quarterback who is not expected to play this year it is hard to see where the team expects to improve over last season, but they are hoping to be status quo. This is a high risk team in my opinion, because of where they are with the cap. Basically if they don’t fire this year they have the potential to really be stuck for the next year or two.  I would not expect them to stick with Alex Smith for too long this year if things do go south as it’s unlikely he will be back after this year. They will keep their fingers crossed that the Raiders and Broncos don’t improve to set them back.

27. Giants

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
17.2%4.1%7.1%$3,512,50023.5

I watch a lot of Giants games so while I was a bit surprised that the Falcons players were not picked up, I was not nearly as surprised when the Giants had a similar snaps lost vs quality lost number. The Giants major loss was Jonathan Hankins who signed a big deal with the Colts, but they used that money to add 6 or 7 other players that hopefully will give them some much needed depth. They will need that depth to help them make a push to improve this year.

26. Seahawks

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
14.6%10.3%22.0%$931,95523.0

Seattle rarely lets anyone of note leave their team and what we see here are simply bits and pieces being sold off for pennies, with the average APY under $950K.  If we didn’t take special teams into account or gave it less impact on the score, which might be fair, you could make a strong argument that this is the most or second most intact team of 2017. Basically they sacrificed low level depth and hope they can replace it in the draft. This is a team to keep an eye on in 2018 as more of the veteran contracts begin to come due. Do they risk becoming pretty old for the next four or five years or turnover the roster?  Young guys have a great opportunity to make a statement this year, in my opinion.

25. Buccaneers

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
17.3%8.0%7.8%$5,783,33320.0

In reality Tampa should rank even lower than this as their rank is impacted by the APY lost which would indicate impact type players leaving the team, but that number is hyper inflated by the loss of Mike Glennon. This is a team that added a few parts so if you thought their run at the end of the year was for real they should be in good shape.

24. Colts

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
26.3%12.6%9.2%$1,590,55019.5

Free agency this year was pretty much a strong indication of why Ryan Grigson was let go. The team has a 13.6% differential between snaps lost and quality snaps lost. The APY of the players who did sign was 29th lowest in the NFL so these are guys fighting for roster spots, not good players. The Colts went out and signed a bunch of guys in hopes of fixing the roster while Andrew Luck and some offensive parts are still firing, but it’s fair to wonder how much better they would be with a new coaching staff in place.

23. Jets

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
34.1%5.4%12.5%$2,534,30219.25

The Jets ranking is simply comical considering how many people they have let go but when you have an absurd 21.6% differential between lost snaps and snaps still in the league it shows you just how horrific this roster was last year.  The Jets only quality loss was Brandon Marshall who the team cut in part because he was causing locker room issues for the team and the APY was also boosted by Ryan Fitzpatrick. So when we all talk of the Jets tanking the year please realize that the numbers say the Jets just jettisoned dead weight. There is a reason why this team is considered the worst in the league but they will have plenty of opportunity to fill.

22. Dolphins

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
22.1%11.0%8.0%$3,232,85718.75

Knowing Mike Tannenbaum from his Jets days I didn’t expect any major roster changes to the team and he pretty much lived up to those expectations this year. While they did cut complete dead weight like Mario Williams they didn’t make many wholesale changes for the year and signed a number of mid tier guys that he hopes can improve the team this year. They wisely walked away from Dion Sims at his current price tag but the majority of their meaningful players will be back. I don’t think this team was very good last year but they will have every chance to prove me wrong as they come back with the same core group.

21. Broncos

Snaps LostQuality Snaps LostQuality ST LostAvg. APY LostAvg. Rank
11.5%8.0%22.2%$3,692,85718.50

I consider the Broncos to have one of the better front offices in the NFL and its not surprising to see them have the 9th highest lost APY by any stretch. Well respected organizations generally see teams pay for players and most of their free agents found jobs. Like the Seahawks the Broncos generally keep the stars worth keeping which means the special teamers are often allowed to walk which happened here. If things come together for this team with the quarterback they should be able to really make some noise this year.

On Odell Beckham and Contract Holdouts

A lot was made of Odell Beckham’s absence from the Giants offseason workout program and the fact that he is back for their mandatory minicamp. Neither really should have come as a surprise and in part this is due to the way in which the rookie contract system works. (more…)

Jets Release David Harris

The Jets cut veteran linebacker David Harris today, just a few days after finalizing a trade to bring Demario Davis in from Cleveland. The Jets will save $6.5 million with the release which is money that the team will likely be banking for 2018 as the full rebuilding of the team continues. The cutting of Harris isn’t surprising but the timing of it I think is really questionable. While the NFL can be very cutthroat there really should be some level of professional courtesy given to players like Harris and this is two times in two years the Jets have done such a thing. (more…)

Focusing on Contract Structure Rather than Guarantees

I actually wrote something on guaranteed contracts in the NFL recently but I’m going to hold off on publishing that until tomorrow or Monday and instead look first at contract structure. What really brought this post on was an interesting tweet by Jason Cole of Bleacher Report

(more…)

Chiefs Release Receiver Jeremy Maclin

The first post June 1 casualty of the year came in just minutes ago when the Kansas City Chiefs announced that they would be releasing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The Chiefs signed Maclin just two years ago as a prized free agent to a massive 5 year, $55 million contract, which he, not surprisingly, did not live up to. Maclin was scheduled to earn $10 million this season while carrying a $12.4 million cap charge. By releasing him now the Chiefs will save $10 million on the salary cap, carrying a dead money charge of $2.4 million this year and deferring $4.8 million to 2018. This will save the cap starved Chiefs immensely, increasing their cap space from a minuscule $2.1 million to around $11.5 million. (more…)

Teams Gain Cap Space for 2017

June 2nd has finally arrived and the accounting rules for the remainder of the season are now changed. From this point forward any player on a multi year contract who is released will only have his current years proration remain on the salary cap in 2017 with any future money being dumped into the 2018 league year. In addition the teams that designated players a “post June 1” cut will now remove those players from the roster. Here is a look at the teams that will benefit from the accounting changes. (more…)