Reevaluating Free Agency: Offense

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With the season halfway complete I thought it would be a good time to actually go back and look at some of the top line spending that occurred in Free Agency and see if teams were or were not getting their money’s worth. In this segment we will look at the top five signings on the offensive side of the ball. To qualify a player either had to have his contract terminated or had to have a contract set to expire, meaning Franchise players, and RFAs would count, but extended players like Matt Ryan with years left would not. To do a quick estimate of level of play we will use the rankings from our friends at Pro Football Focus.

Quarterback

There was not much in the way off free agent movement here. Joe Flacco was the big contract and he has failed to live up to his playoff performances in the regular season. His $20.1 million APY ranks 3rd in the NFL while his PFF grade is 125% lower than Peyton Manning’s, who grades as the best QB of the year. His only saving grace this year is that his cap figure is just $6.8 million, 67% less than Eli Manning’s lead leading figure.  The only other free agent player to see any snaps at the position was Matt Cassel of the Vikings, who also has a poor grade in very limited action.

NameTeam

Cap Hit

Annual Value

Grade

Joe FlaccoRavens

$6,800,000

$20,100,000

-5.5

Matt MooreDolphins

$2,500,000

$4,000,000

DNQ

Matt CasselVikings

$3,700,000

$3,700,000

-4.5

Matt HasselbeckColts

$3,500,000

$3,625,000

DNQ

Chase DanielChiefs

$1,800,000

$3,333,333

DNQ

Running Back

This has been a position of broken down players. Steven Jackson, Shonn Greene and Mike Goodson have all been injured enough to basically never play. Mendenhall was ineffective through 7 games and is now injured as well. Reggie Bush has been  the lone bright spot. He ranks 18th according to PFF and 17th in my APY estimates.

NameTeam

Cap Hit

Annual Value

Grade

Reggie BushLions

$2,000,000

$4,000,000

3.6

Steven JacksonFalcons

$2,916,666

$4,000,000

DNQ

Shonn GreeneTitans

$2,583,333

$3,333,333

DNQ

Rashard MendenhallCardinals

$2,500,000

$2,500,000

-3

Mike GoodsonJets

$666,275

$2,300,000

DNQ

Wide Receiver

We all knew at the time how much the Dolphins looked to be wasting on Mike Wallace and thus far Wallace has proven the critics right. Wallace grades out at a -5.0 despite the 4th highest salary in the NFL. He carries a low cap figure in 2013, but Miami assumed that would make him exceptional value. He is anything but. Dwayne Bowe has been a disappointment as well being an average player despite a bloated salary. The worthwhile investments came on two players considered secondary targets in Victor Cruz and Brian Hartline.

NameTeam

Cap Hit

Annual Value

Grade

Mike WallaceDolphins

$3,250,000

$12,000,000

-5

Dwayne BoweChiefs

$4,000,000

$11,200,000

0.4

Greg JenningsVikings

$5,000,000

$9,000,000

-1.3

Victor CruzGiants

$2,530,000

$8,600,000

5.9

Brian HartlineDolphins

$2,115,000

$6,155,000

5.9

 

Tight End

I could not make any logic out of the price tag the Rams gave TE Jared Cook and I think everyone is scratching their head over that right now too. He is awful,  but it’s not like he was good before. The Rams have a lot of bad deals on their team and his is the worst of the bunch. Tony Gonzalez just keeps going and going with a terrific grade at a reasonable price. Dustin Keller was injured before the year began and James Casey may as well be.

NameTeam

Cap Hit

Annual Value

Grade

Jared CookRams

$4,000,000

$7,020,000

-6.5

Tony GonzalezFalcons

$5,250,000

$7,000,000

6.5

Martellus BennettBears

$1,940,000

$5,100,000

0.4

Dustin KellerDolphins

$4,250,000

$4,250,000

DNP

Anthony FasanoChiefs

$2,375,000

$4,000,000

-3.9

James CaseyEagles

$4,015,000

$4,000,000

DNQ

Left Tackle

This is probably the first position where we are beginning to see some value. Jake Long has worked out incredibly well for the Rams while Branden Albert of the Chiefs is at least grading positively on his one year contract. Jermon Busrod and Will Beatty are both overpaid but things could be worse with them. Clady was injured early in the year.

NameTeam

Cap Hit

Annual Value

Grade

Ryan CladyBroncos

$12,600,000

$10,500,000

DNQ

Branden AlbertChiefs

$9,828,000

$9,828,000

4.9

Jake LongRams

$4,250,000

$8,500,000

15.4

Will BeattyGiants

$3,550,000

$7,500,000

-2.9

Jermon BushrodBears

$3,015,000

$7,193,000

0.5

Right Tackle

If there was a hit of the offseason this is the position. Of the top 5 new deals, 4 rank incredibly high. Andre Smith has proven to be  a steal for the Bengals while Gosder Cherilus and Phil Loadholt are playing well for their teams. Sebastian Vollmer was playing incredibly well but will now spend the rest of the year on IR costing himself millions in the process. Miami swung and missed on Tyson Clabo.

NameTeam

Cap Hit

Annual Value

Grade

Gosder CherilusColts

$3,900,000

$7,000,000

7.7

Phil LoadholtVikings

$4,750,000

$6,250,000

6.3

Andre SmithBengals

$6,000,000

$5,000,000

12.3

Sebastian VollmerPatriots

$3,000,000

$4,187,000

14.5

Tyson ClaboDolphins

$3,500,000

$3,500,000

-12.4

Interior Line

Andy Levitre has not justified the incredibly high salary the Titans gave him to sign with the team. While not a bad player his APY is right near the top of the market for Guards and he is barely above average. Louis Vasquez has been the ge of the interior line whie Kory Lictensteiger has done well in Washington.

NameTeam

Cap Hit

Annual Value

Grade

Andy LevitreTitans

$7,800,000

$7,800,000

2.5

Louis VasquezBroncos

$3,250,000

$5,875,000

13.7

Donald ThomasColts

$3,500,000

$2,750,000

DNQ

Kory LictensteigerRedskins

$1,800,000

$3,500,000

5.9

Brian De La PuenteSaints

$2,030,000

$2,030,000

-3

Overall

One thing that is interesting to note in looking at these grades and salaries is that free agency is about as big a crapshoot as the draft. The skill position players have almost all disappointed and it is only the lineman who are doing well as a group. Also in each case the top salary earner at every position has not been the best performing free agent. Thus far players who qualified who graded higher than the top earning FA signing are QB Brian Hoyer, RB Danny Woodhead, WR Wes Welker, TE Ben Hartsock, LT Long, RT Vollmer, and G Vasquez. The line is the only spot where teams put a top 5 price tag on someone and saw the player pan out.  We’ll take a look at the defense later this week and see if they fared better.

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Questions about this article? Reach Jason Fitzgerald on Twitter at @Jason_OTC