With the NFL at the halfway point I thought it might be fun to look back on some free agent acquisitions and look at the best and worst signings using our valuation model. You can read about that model here but the gist of it is we use a number of measures to translate a players performance into a salary within the current market. To qualify for inclusion you had to be a player who signed a new contract after the conclusion of the 2018 regular season, had a prior contract that was set to, or did, expire, and played at least a snap this year for the team you signed with.
The Top 10 Signings
|Dante Fowler, Jr.||Rams||Edge||$12,000,000||$17,731,000||$5,731,000|
|John Brown||Bills||Wide Receiver||$9,000,000||$13,370,000||$4,370,000|
2019 was a big year for pass rusher movement and the teams that invested in that position certainly have seen payoffs this year. Pass rushers are high priced players so anytime you get a good performance from the position you have a chance to recapture that value. Brandon Graham clocked in as the top performer with an $18.5M value on the season. He’s on pace for double digit sacks this year…. Barrett has been the best free agent find this offseason. He already has 10 sacks on the year and is set to cash in next season. Every team in the NFL should be kicking themselves for not taking a flier….The Rams continued to gamble on Fowler and he is repaying their faith with his performance. The two Smith’s were two of the most questionable offseason signings at the prices, but they have lived up to it and certainly justified the Packers projections for them within their defensive scheme.
Brian Poole was not tendered by the Falcons, I guess due to cap constraints, and he has been a find for the Jets. Poole is one of their most consistent defenders….Brown doesn’t have much of a quarterback to work with in Buffalo, but he has made the most of his situation…Houston has looked like a different player after being let go by the Chiefs…Bridgewater made the most of his chances when Drew Brees was hurt. He should be looked at as starting option somewhere next year…Collins return to New England led to improvement in play.
The Top 10 Bargains
|Darren Fells||Texans||Tight End||$1,500,000||$7,809,000||$6,309,000|
|Chris Conley||Jaguars||Wide Receiver||$2,297,500||$8,604,000||$6,306,500|
We spoke about Barrett above. He has been one of the best free agent signings in recent memory giving the Bucs an incredible $14.3 million in value over his base contract per year. About the only negative for them is that he will be a free agent again at the end of the year….Collins re-found his NFL life following his move back to New England and is one of the top linebackers on the year, providing the Patriots with nearly $11 million in value…Poole has been a nice find for the Jets on a one year, $3 million contract after the Falcons surprisingly allowed him to walk. He has been one of the best performers at the position. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix is looking to revive a career with the Bears and has made the most of his opportunity playing at a $10M+ level. Finally unheralded Tyeler Davison finishes up the top 5 providing the Falcons with close to $6.4 million in value.
Expect many of these names to cash in next season and most players here are on one year contracts and will get another opportunity next season. For Barrett, Poole, Clinton-Dix, Davison, Golden, and Bridgewater there should be far more lucrative opportunities that present themselves next March.
The Bottom 10
|Antonio Brown||Patriots||Wide Receiver||$15,250,000||$506,000||($14,744,000)|
|Ja’Wuan James||Broncos||Right tackle||$12,750,000||$1,879,000||($10,871,000)|
|Devin Funchess||Colts||Wide Receiver||$10,000,000||$325,000||($9,675,000)|
|Trent Brown||Raiders||Right Tackle||$16,500,000||$7,952,000||($8,548,000)|
Most of these names are all injured players. Foles has been hurt most of the year so its hard to provide value to a team when you are on IR. Foles should be returning shortly though it remains to be seen what the Jaguars will do at QB….Antonio Brown’s off the field issues ended his chances pretty early with him only playing in one game this year, but being paid handsomely to do so….Mosley has a strong opening to the year but got hurt late in the first game and the Jets have pretty much mishandled the injury since then, rushing him back for a game they had no chance of winning only to see him land again on the sidelines….Ja’Wuan James has also spent most of the year on the sidelines. The Broncos need him to be healthy next year to get a return on the contract….I was a little surprised at the Jackson signing when it happened and at the amount it was for but he had almost no opportunity to justify it this year. The final four players are players are participating and need to improve their play over the course of the season and contract. It’s not that they are necessarily playing poorly, its just that they had very lofty expectations to play at All Pro levels.
If you want to learn more about our valuations on the season you can look at last week’s results on our valuation page or subscribe to the OTC premium section to see each weeks and overall season values.
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.