Now that the draft is complete I wanted to use the work that Brad and I had done in The Drafting Stage to see what kind of implied value teams added in the draft as well as how the teams rosters look compared to 2020.
In the Drafting Stage we used the second contract values of drafted players to identify the expected value of every draft pick in the NFL Draft. Rather than working solely with the salary numbers as I had done in the past we adjusted the values for position to assign a percentage to each slot that can be then used to determine the expected value of the pick based on the position he is projected to play at the NFL level. Now that we have an idea of the positions each team addressed in the draft we can use that data along with our salary database data to get those projected values.
What this table tells us is that the Dolphins, who had the highest valued draft class, should get the same value that would be received by signing $64.3M per year of free agents onto the team. That is more than double the average of around $31M. Since rookies actually cost pennies this is one of the reasons why they are so valuable since Miami is not spending $64M for their rookies. Of course this does not mean the Dolphins will wind up with $64M in value or that the Saints will wind up with under $15M just that if every player was an average performer this is where they would be 4 years from now. The Saints could very well wind up with $40M in value if some of their picks play way over the draft slot while Miami could be at $15M if their first round picks bust. But the numbers should be a good gauge of how much a team stands to improve over the next few years and how well they allocated their draft picks on expensive (think QB and Edge rushers) positions rather than low valued ones (tight end and running back or special teams).
Doing this got me to thinking where do teams stand in relation to last year? One of the ways I thought we could estimate that was by looking at free agency. If a team lost a player this year in free agency (or trade) I figured the annual value of the new contract would indicate how much value they lost from last years roster. To account for retirements I used the players old salary since they were playing at a high level. The team that lost the most was the Panthers at $79M followed by the Cowboy and Patriots. The team that lost the least was Miami (under $1M) as nobody wanted whatever few free agents they had.
The second thing to calculate was salary gained in free agency or via trade. This was the reverse of the above. If the player was not on the team last year and signed a veteran free agent contract that salary was counted as salary gained. Miami added $75M per year in new deals to top the NFL. The least active team was the cap strapped Chiefs adding just $4.2M.
I was initially going to just add the draft values to that number but while the impact of free agents are immediate the impact of draft picks are not. In most cases they take two or three years to meet their peak performance which is what is reflected in our draft chart. So for each class I adjusted the value down, admittedly in a very arbitrary manner. Special teams were counted at full value, running backs 90%, O line and linebackers at 50%, QBs at 25%, and everyone else at 35%.
Here is how the teams look.
Basically what the chart tells us is that if you are in the top left you should improve from last year. You lost less than the NFL average and gained more than the average NFL team. Miami in particular should be really improved basically breaking the chart with their additions vs subtractions. Those in the top right are pretty much adding a slight amount overall and really changing the mix. Lose a bunch of faces and replace them with a near equal valued group of faces.
The bottom left are the teams that didn’t lose much nor gain much. They probably have the most chance of showing similar results as last season. Bottom right lost a lot and did not gain much and would likely be the teams that would project to take the biggest steps backwards unless players play well above their salary levels. Those in the bottom will likely be relying on 2nd year players to make a big leap from their rookie seasons while also being hopeful that this years rookies play above whatever numbers we project.
The teams with the most positive disparity between 2019 and 2020 are the Dolphins, Raiders, Giants, Colts, and Bills. The bottom teams are the Patriots, Cowboys, Rams, 49ers, and Vikings. These numbers will change over the coming weeks as players sign now that the comp session is over and other new signings get cut but I thought it might give a little perspective as to where teams stand going into the summer months.
Here are the gained and lost numbers in a table form.
|Team||Salary Lost||Salary Gained||Difference|
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.