NFL Offensive and Defensive Scoring Efficiency, Week 8
Here are the updated rankings for the teams after 8 games. You can read more about how we calculate them but basically it measures how many more points you score or allow than your schedules particular average. the average performance of the teams on their schedule. This year has a large number of teams basically nearing the middle and really nobody who stands out as dominant leaving this a wide open season unless you are the Jets who skew everything in a negative direction.
The Saints made a pretty interesting acquisition today, making a move for 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander for Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth round draft pick. Alexander was one of the prize free agent signings of the 49ers in 2019, signing a very stunning (at least to me), four year, $54 million contract. Just a season and a half later and he is now a Saint.
I really like this move for New Orleans who is clearly all in on this season. The team is facing an absolute salary cap nightmare for 2021 and may have no quarterback on the roster other than Taysom Hill to boot so doing anything in their power to get better makes sense. Alexander has Pro Bowl talent if healthy which is always a big if when it comes to Alexander.
The Saints will not pick up much salary with the move. Alexander has $2.64 million in base salary remaining on his contract in 2020 and another $420K in potential roster bonuses that he can earn. So if things work out the team will only owe $3.06 million for what they hope will be a Super Bowl run. By trading Alonso, who has been on PUP all season, they also shed $900,000 in salary cap space making this at most a $2.2 million risk. We estimated that the Saints had $7.4 million in cap space before this trade so there is still room to add more if they can find a player they want.
Alexander has no guarantees in his contract for 2021 (there is a vesting injury guarantee which basically offers no protection) so the $13.4 million cost that this will have for 2021 is meaningless since they can walk away with no issue. If he plays great they could look to recover the 5th round pick, but most likely this will be a player who is released come March. There is $0 dead money for the Saints if cut.
For San Francisco this is more about fixing a mistake and getting some cap relief at the same time. This contract really surprised me when it came down because Alexander was hurt all the time. He had only played 12 games in 2015, 11 games in 2017 and 6 games in 2018 and that kind of history should never lead to a $13.5M a year contract for a linebacker. Not surprisingly Alexander only appeared in 8 games last season and then just 5 games this year. The 49ers wound up paying Alexander $23.562 million for just 13 games across 1 1/2 seasons, an uncharacteristically big blunder for one of the best front offices in the NFL.
The team had tinkered with the contract last year for cap relief so there is a good deal of dead money affiliated with the contract. Alexander will count for $4.86 million in cap charges this year and $6.91 million in dead money next year. By making the trade they will save the $2.2 million in net cap costs mentioned above when discussing the Saints.
Prior to the trade we estimated that the 49ers would be right at the salary cap limit for 2021 if the salary cap winds up being $176 million so now they should be at $10.3 million in effective cap space. The 49ers can save close to $30 million next year if they bail on Jimmy Garoppolo and Dee Ford next season and begin to retool the team around their more productive core players.
Given where each team stands for this year and next I like this for both teams. The 49ers get a little cap relief and maybe a draft pick for a player who was going to be cut while the Saints dont take on too much salary for a player who may help the defense in crunch time.
NFL Leaders in Salary on Injured Lists
With teams about to take the turn to the halfway point I wanted to take a snapshot of how much teams are currently impacted by injury. What we did here was look at how much in terms of salary cap dollars and annual contract value were on reserve lists associated with being injured- IR, PUP, and NFI (Covid lists are not included) and what percent of a teams allocation on the season is sitting there.
There team most hurt by injuries is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have 30% of their salary cap sitting on reserve with just under 29% of the their total contract value sitting on the sidelines. Both are NFL highs. While Dallas is certainly having a disappointing year injuries are playing a big role.
The 49ers and Broncos are neck and neck for the next spot and both have done a good job overcoming adversity this year. Both squads are right around 27% of their roster value on IR and between 28 and 29% of their salary cap values on IR. The Broncos were higher earlier this year but did get their QB back. The teams rank 1st and 2nd in players on reserve the 49ers having 16 players hurt and the Broncos having 12 hurt. If I had to say which has it worse Id lean San Francisco who lost bigger value players whose impact is understated using salary metrics since they are on rookie contracts.
The Panthers are fourth with about 23% of their roster values hurt but they should take a big turn for the better next week when Christian McCaffrey is activated.
The Bengals have 19% of their roster value on IR and 17% of their cap value on IR while the Eagles are 4th in the NFL with $4M in contract value on IR but their roster value is so high it only makes up 18%, which puts them at 6th.
The Falcons are the healthiest team in the NFL which just makes their terrible start even more mind boggling. Usually a healthy roster leads to over-perfoming if anything. he Bills have some players on the sidelines but none hurt enough to land on IR. They have just 1.2% of their roster value on reserve.
The Lions and Rams have 2.1% and 2.2% respectively hurt. The Rams number went down yesterday with the activation of A’Shawn Robinson who had a questionable NFI designation. Teams should study what the Rams do because every year their team is generally healthy and its too consistent to just be dumb luck. The Chiefs round out the top five.
The following table has the full list as of this morning.
Cap on Reserve
Contract Value on Reserve
% Cap on Reserve
% Contract Value on Reserve
Practice Squad Elevation Tracker: Week 8
Here is the updated list of practice squad elevations on the season. With the trade deadline coming up and veterans being exposed to waivers after the deadline it may be a time to see if more veterans get elevated or not. A player is only eligible to be elevated two times per team each year.
Top player of the week went to Drew Brees on offense and TJ Watt on defense. Our team of the week was the Chargers while the Patriots took a very unfamiliar spot as the worst in the league in week 7. Here were this week’s top valued players at each position.