Each offseason a number of the multi-year contracts signed by free agents the previous offseason are terminated. These contracts may be terminated for a variety of reasons: disappointing performance, injury, team salary cap situation, etc. These factors are, for the most part, unpredictable. However, we can use Expected Contract Value to identify contracts that are more susceptible to early termination due to their structure and other characteristics. If a number of free agent signings disappoint to equal degrees during the 2016 season, their respective contract structures may determine which players are released in 2017 and which players are begrudgingly retained.
Expected Contract Value 1.1 is the version of ECV applied at the time of signing. ECV 1.1 considers the age of the player, the number of seasons remaining on the contract, and the salary cap savings relative to the average annual value of the contract. We would expect teams to release older players with fewer remaining contract seasons and greater cap savings relative to deal value more often than younger players with more remaining contract seasons and less cap savings relative to deal value.
Last year we identified 25 players signed during 2015 free agency with a greater than 1 in 5 probability of being released after just one season. The Expected Contract Value model has evolved since then, so the results would not be quite the same if calculated today, but 11 of those players were in fact released this offseason (a pay cut is also treated as a release). The players mentioned were as follows (in order of most likely to be released to least likely): Darnell Dockett, Vince Wilfork, Trent Cole, Tramon Williams, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Antrel Rolle, Jordan Cameron, Doug Free, Cary Williams, Justin Forsett, Jabaal Sheard, Kendall Langford, Curtis Lofton, Brian Orakpo, Frank Gore, Brandon Browner, Nate Allen, James Carpenter, Marcus Gilchrist, Rahim Moore, King Dunlap, Shane Vereen, Bruce Carter, and David Harris. Several more of those players would seem to still be in jeopardy of being released at some point between now and the first week of the regular season.
Expected Contract Value 2.0 is the version of ECV applied each offseason to reevaluate the probability that the player will be released or forced to take a pay cut. ECV 2.0 incorporates a one-year look back of performance, so when ECV 2.0 is applied in February 2017 we will have better probabilities based on how the players mentioned below actually play during the 2016 season. But in order to avoid trying to project performance, the tables below show the lowest expected outcomes for 2017 using the performance-neutral ECV 1.1 of multiyear contracts signed during the 2016 offseason. We would expect about 20% of players with expected outcomes of 20% to actually remain under contract, about 50% of players with expected outcomes of 50% to actually remain under contract, etc.
|Player||Probability of Team Retaining Player in 2017|