I’d like to introduce to everyone the newest feature we have added to OTC and that is a weekly player and team valuation metric that is, I believe, the first mass attempt to better merge contract values with actual on field performance.
To develop our valuation metric we are primarily using four signals to re-assign salaries in the NFL that I think can best explain the players true on field worth. While the formulas that we use are proprietary they are based on player participation, Pro Football Focus grades, raw statistical performance, and proprietary statistics developed by PFF.
So why these main categories? I’ll explain my logic here.
While snap counts do not tell us much about a player’s performance they are telling us that the coaching staff must see something in that player to keep trotting him out there week after week. Even if the coach is simply forced by circumstance to play someone (such as the Jets most recent need to play a third string QB as a starter) there is value to just taking a snap. This is a prime reason why so many NFL incentives, in particular the rookie proven performance escalator, is tied to just playtime.
Statistical performances are big drivers of NFL salaries. While there are always exceptions to every rule, players who sack the quarterback more often than not get paid more than a rusher who hasn’t had much luck bringing a QB down. While we can argue over the efficiency of an Ezekiel Elliot the fact is he produces a ton of yards, first downs, touchdowns, etc…(well before this year at least he did) and clearly the NFL sees value in just production.
The second way we look at production is more through efficiency measures and trying to identify how much of that raw production is being produced by a player’s level of play versus just having an abundance of opportunities. Going back to Elliot you may be able to look at his yards per target in the receiving game, percentage of yards after contact, etc… and realize that when compared to league averages his efficiency is not that high. Mike Evans produced a ton more yards last year than would be expected of a player given his amount of times targeted in an offense while Jarvis Landry produced less. Using many PFF statistics give us the ability to better identify efficient production vs volume based production.
Finally the PFF grade gives an overview of how a player is performing on a play by play basis and gives more context to the quality of snaps being played and the quality of those stats, some of which may still be misleading due to other things that impact a play. I look at this as essentially having a seasoned scout telling me what level they really see a player at.
We take all of these numbers and use them to calculate how contracts should be attributed to players at each position based on how they are playing on a week by week basis as well as over the course of the entire season.
It is important to note that this is NOT a free agent valuation. A free agent valuation is something very different as the baseline for those salaries is the veteran marketplace rather than the entire NFL market. Those numbers would likely be much higher for many players. This valuation we have is a way of distributing salaries in an equitable manner so that rookies and veterans would be valued on the same scale within the current market at that position. This allows us to cap the market close to where salaries are currently slotted and is why a Patrick Mahomes isn’t valued at something like $40 million as we are working, more or less, within the constraints of the salary structure in 2019.
With that out of the way let’s look at what the valuation page will have.
At the top right of the page you will see the team by team view. Simply click on the expand button to see all 32 teams. This sums up the overall value of each team for the season or a given week. The second column shows you what the team is currently paying on an annual basis for their team. The final column shows you just how much more value a team is getting from their roster. For a majority of teams this will be positive because rookies provide so much value relative to their contract that teams have to either have an awful group of draft picks over the past few years and either bad injury luck or lots of overvalued veterans to not be getting value from their roster this early in the year. Veteran contracts also grow smaller relative to the cap each year and can quickly move to undervalued assets for a team if they continue to perform at a level close to their pre-free agent/extension status. Clicking on the headers of the table will sort the teams.
As you scroll down you will see a listing of all players that we have a record of this year. The first column tells you the player’s value that he receives for playing his primary position on offense, defense, or special teams. The total value column adds in, for offensive and defensive players, value for special team’s performance, if applicable. The next two columns will identify the player’s current average per year on his contract and the value he is providing the team this year. Finally we have a column looking at the salary for the player in 2020 and how that corresponds to where he is playing at this year as a rough guide for maybe seeing what players could be in danger of release next year. Again these columns are all sortable.
Above the table you will see filters so you can quickly filter by position and/or team the same way you can on our free agency page. At the top of the page you will also see a selection for the week so you can select which week you would like to view.
The valuation pages will be updated each week on either Tuesday or Wednesday to reflect the prior week’s action. For the first week or two we will have the entire page open, but will then be moving the season totals and ability to view the prior game data to the Premium section of OTC, which you can read about here. We will, however, add to our player’s page the valuation number so if you are just interested in one player you can see that without subscribing and Ill also try do a weekly post going over some of the better players of the week.
I think this will be a neat and interesting add to OTC and hopefully you will find it interesting as well. I’d also like to thank PFF for the great services they provide and remind everyone that if you really want to see a thorough week by week breakdown of every player in the league you should be subscribing to their PFF Elite plan and give it a look.
We will get a link up on the main page shortly but to view the current week valuation (and preview the full featured version) you can go to this page. You can also think about subscribing to the Premium for the ability to view everything once we move the full featured version to the Premium section after the next slate of games. I’ll post a new link to the preview version then as well.
Feel free to email any comments or suggestions on this or anything else OTC related and as always thanks for the support.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.