Now that the contract parameters are in for Safety Kam Chancellor lets look to see how he stacks up with some other players. For this article I’ll be using stats from Pro Football Focus, though most will be raw data that I am using to grade a player under my own metrics.
The first category I want to look at is pass coverage. Now admittedly this is difficult to grade because Safeties are often in help and both good and bad numbers may not really show up in the PFF stat database but here is how Chancellor compares to the other 79 players who have played at least 200 coverage snaps last season.
Where Chancellor really stands out is his stellar Yards Per Catch and Yards after Catch categories. It means players are not getting deep over the top of him and he is capable of maintaining short coverages for his team. His biggest weakness from last season was lack of interceptions. He was one of only 16 safeties to not record an interception.
Based on the league averages and the fact that Chancellor had 599 plays in pass coverage we can determine that the average safety would have been targeted about 42 times and given up nearly 27 receptions for 344.3 yards. Chancellor only gave up 308 so he saved his team 36.3 yards last season. That’s a decrease in 10.7%. In terms of yards improvement that ranked 32nd and percentage of yards 36th. The best player last season was Harrison Smith who saved his team 211 yards. The worst was Roman Harper who allowed an extra 336.
Of course none of these grades take into account the fact that safeties help in coverage and are there to make stops when a reception is made. To try to measure this I’ll look at a pure PFF category called tackling efficiency which measures how many tackles opportunities a player has per tackle they miss. Considering a safety is often the last line of defense a missed tackle can be devastating.
Chancellor ranks 15th in the group with a rate of 13 tackles per miss, well above the average of 8.6. That is exceptional.
Chancellor only rushed 11 times last season, pressuring the QB once. In general this is a non-factor when evaluating Safeties. Using a formula I developed Chancellor would be considered to increase the chance of play failure, definied as a complete or incomplete, by 0.09% with his pass rushing.
For run support I wanted to look at 4 categories. The first is percentage of tackles that PFF records as stops that occur when the Safety lines up essentially “in the box” and plays run. The second ategory are plays where the Safety is lined up more than 8 yards from the line, indicating the ability to jump a play despite not necessarily playing run. We also look at tackle attempts per miss as well as total tackles per run snap.
(In the Box)
In general I think Chancellor would be regarded as an average or slightly above average run defender based on how he played last season. His best feature is that when lining up deep he is being proactive and making stops rather than just tackles after the offense has picked up “winning” yardage.
I wanted to look at a number of players whose contracts could be used as a baseline for Chancellors value. First we will start with our coverage, with the percentages indicating the percentage above or below the average player expectation in a category:
Our second category will be the rushing numbers:
% Stops within 8 yd
% Other Stops
Finally we have an aggregate score where each category will be averaged and then given a weight of 58.6% for coverage, 38.7% for run support, and 2.7% for rushing. These numbers are indicative of the typical Safety play assignments so that we weigh each phase of the game appropriately.
Of the veteran safeties Chancellor certainly ranks well above the average which is more than going to justify the $7 million a year he is said to be earning on his new contract. When looking at this list the most apparent thing is that Weddle is so far and away the number 1 veteran player and that at $8 million a year he is probably underpaid considering the performance of the rest of the market. That may indicate that there is a point of performance where teams no longer consider it worth the extra dollars.
Chancellor’s new APY will rank 4th among these players, slightly above Branch and Bethea. Those two are probably better values but these players are all so close that its pretty subjective to rank the three. If you are looking for all around value Branch may be the best but if you want a stronger coverage guy while still offering good run support Chancellor is the better bet. Almost all the older veterans such as Harper and Rolle have no business being paid what they are being paid. Rolle could be in danger if the Giants draft more secondary help on Thursday or Friday. Harper is probably safe as the Saints front office is seemingly oblivious to the salary cap and future consequences of overpaying bad talent.
The other noticeable thing is how badly the Buccaneers overpaid for the name value that Goldson brings to the table. Statistically he was an average safety that had slightly more interceptions than an average player. In no way should he be making more than Weddle and in the context of this group is probably worth just slightly over $6 million per year. William Moore is also grossly overpaid at $6 million a year. Considering those two players and Landry both signed this year the Seahawks are arguably getting a very good deal with Chancellor who is far superior to those three players.
We may get a better read on the contract when all the details are in but I’d say that this is a deal that both sides will be happy with over the next two or three seasons. One of those rare “on paper” win-win situations.
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.