Stock Up: Week 13


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have helped their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that exceeded all expectations and provided exceptional value to his team.

Stock Up

Eric Decker– The Broncos are going to have an interesting decision on their hands this offseason. Do they pay a huge price for Decker to stick around with Peyton Manning or do they let him walk and assume Manning will do well enough with what they have?  Decker’s 174 yard, 4 touchdown game against what was supposed to be a great defense was quite the show. Decker has an excellent chance to set a career high in yards as he heads into free agency.

Justin Tuck– Tuck, who will be a free agent next season, had a pretty quiet year up until last night. Tuck manhandled the Redskins offensive line to the tune of 4 sacks and 5 tackles. It was one of the most dominant defensive performances of the year and will pad his statline for the season. Tuck still has 4 weeks to prove he deserves a decent contract somewhere in the NFL, but games like this can go a long way towards convincing a team that Tuck is a benefit to take a flier on next season if they feel the situation is a good one to get the maximum value out of him.

Trent Cole-I got a few comments concerning Cole this week and his contract status. My gut feeling is that he is safe, but he went a long way towards helping that status this week. Cole had two sacks against the Cardinals, one of which led to a fumble. The other sack came on a 3rd down conversion opportunity. This was his second two sack game in a row which should help him maintain a spot in Philadelphia next season. Cole had a bit of a weird extension in which he had a relatively high contract value but it was heavily backloaded, with the big payments beginning in 2015. Cole had to always assume he was getting to 2014 and he’s close to making that a reality.


New Contract Player Of The Week

Brian Hartline– Earlier this year when we discussed Hartline’s signing I felt it was pretty strong value for Miami. He proved it this week with a big game against the Jets. Hartline could not be covered by New York, whether it was Antonio Cromartie or Dee Miliner. He ended the day with 9 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. If Ryan Tannehill had not badly underthrown him on another play he probably would have been over 150 and added another score to the mix. Hartline is the most productive receiver on the Dolphins.




Recapping Todays AFC Salary Cap News


Today was quite the day of activity as teams look to gain as much cap space as possible before the beginning of free agency tomorrow. I am going to break things down by conference in two posts to keep things from getting too long. As for the salary cap charts please note that I will be doing my best to keep them updated and current over the next week but I’ll be playing catchup on some days so bear with me on it. Also the league has made more adjustments to the cap that I am unaware of for most teams so if you have any information please email me.

Miami Dolphins– While they did not do anything noteworthy the contract information for Brian Hartline and Matt Moore was reported by Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. It’s a great deal for Miami with Hartline. They got him at below top level number 2 money and have an easy out in year 3 of the contract. Moore’s contract is essentially a 1 year $4 million dollar deal as the high cap hit in 2014 makes him a likely release. This may have been a situation where they surveyed the landscape and thought his was he best fit and to approach it again next year. Miami went with extremely low year 1 cap charges for the two players all things considered, taking up just $4.615 million in cap space. Considering Miami’s cap situation it might mean that they will spend heavily in free agency.

New York Jets– The Jets tendered RT Austin Howard at the 2nd round level, which may be a bit shortsighted considering their salary cap space, or lack thereof. They may have been worried about a team signing him to a high cap charge year 1 contract that the Jets would be unable to match. No chance that he would draw any interest with a 2nd round price tag. The Jets also signed QB David Garrard to come in and join the QB carousel. The Jets are getting dangerously low in cap room where they may not have the room necessary to trade CB Darrelle Revis. The Jets need $3 million in cap space to trade Revis. They have a number of contracts that they can rework which would seem to be a priority if they want to sign anyone in the next few days. The Jets are asking WR Santonio Holmes to take a paycut.

Baltimore Ravens– The Ravens have tried for some time to get WR Anquan Boldin to accept a paycut which he refused to do, leading to his trade from the team. Boldin had been somewhat of disappointment since leaving the Arizona Cardinals but then made up for it with a great playoff run that culminated in the Super Bowl.  The trade will be made official once Boldin passes a physical with the 49’ers. The Ravens will clear $6 million in cap room once the trade is official. The Ravens also tendered Ed Dickson today.

Tennessee Titans– Jay Glazer announced that G Steve Hutchinson will announce his retirement tomorrow. Hutchinson will save the Titans $3.75 million in cap room.

Denver BroncosAndrew already covered of what went on in Denver as they are creating enough cap room to go out and do something big if they want to. I would imagine a lot of Revis speculation in the coming days. He is a perfect fit and they have a cap system that can absorb him if they desire. The Broncos continue to try to get DE Elvis Dumervil to take a paycut. Both sides have their own leverage here. The Broncos have no reason to keep the inconsistent player and could look for a cheaper veteran such as Dwight Freeney to replace him. Dumervil, as a young pass rusher, can likely get his full $12 million salary from another team if he hits free agency. My guess is Denver will not do anything with him until they are assured of a replacement.


Did the Miami Dolphins Overpay for WR Brian Hartline


With the news coming down late last night that Dolphins WR Brian Hartline was going to re-sign with the Dolphins on a contract that would pay him $30.775 million with $12.5 million guaranteed there was an immediate reaction that he was overpaid. Granted we all can agree that Hartline is probably a mid-tier wideout but lets examine if he is or is not overpaid.

Basic Stats

I think the most off the wall comparison I read this morning was that Hartline can’t be paid this much money because he isn’t as good as Jordy Nelson, who works on a contract worth only $4.2 million a year. The argument is that Nelson went off for over 1200 yards in 2011 and has caught 22 Tds in the last two years. The problem is that Nelson wasn’t signed this year. Nelson was signed after he played 3 years and a handful of games. In the 2 years prior to his $4.2 million dollar extension he averaged 451 yards and 2 touchdowns a season. He only played 3 games in 2011 prior to signing his extension and averaged around 67 yards a game. Rather than roll the dice Nelson signed a contract that was reflective of his 451 yards a year with upside potential. He probably kicks himself every day for signing the deal while the Packers are laughing their way to the bank. So lets just get him out of the equation. He has no significance.

The two players who we want to look at are Robert Meachem of the Chargers and Laurent Robinson of the Jaguars.  Neither player was regarded as a true number 1,  though maybe some people get fooled into thinking that they could be, and would represent the high water mark for number 2 players. First lets just look at the basic 2 year averages for the players (Normally I do 3 but for the sake of time Im cutting off at 2 this week):



















Just the basic stats more or less paint Hartline as the most productive of the 3 players from a yardage and catch perspective. His one negative is the fact that he does not score touchdowns. That’s clearly a big negative, but I think we can all agree he certainly belongs in this group. Now let’s go deeper into the numbers where we look at what contribution the player made to the WR corps. over the course of the two seasons prior to signing a contract.

Team Adjusted Stats

For those new to my writings one of the things I like to do is break a player down into contribution to the actual WR corps of the team he played for. I want to see what percentage of the team targets he sees and yards he accounts for. I feel these metrics help sort out who maybe benefits from a team while others are hurt by the team they play for. These are the two year stats


These numbers paint Hartline as the clear superior performer of the group. The only category that makes Robinson stand out is touchdowns where he played the role of a home run hitter, specifically in Dallas. The numbers debunk a bit of the issue with the Hartline touchdowns. Did he only score 2?  Absolutely but you have to put it in context. Miami’s passing game has been so poor that WRs have accounted for a grand total of 13 touchdowns in the last two years.  He one score did actually represent 33% of the teams total in 2012. That doesn’t justify it being good but it at least gives more reason why its not around 4 or 5 a year. Slightly more passes have been picked off that were headed Hartline’s way.

The other thing to note, which is not shown on the chart, is that Hartline’s catch rate is around the expectation for WRs in the offense he plays in. Meachem’s was also around average for the offense which eliminates his best basic stat advantage. Robinsons was worse than others on his team, but that was primarily due to his final season as a Ram where he caught less than 50% of his targets.

The Marketplace

So I think its fair that we can say Hartline certainly belongs in this category of player. I don’t really recall people going too overboard when these players signed with their new teams last year.


Total Value



Guar. Per Year

Pct Guar.






















Now we can not totally compare these contracts because we don’t know how much of Hartlines money is fully guaranteed nor do we know the payment and dead money structures to really compare what is and what is not a stronger deal , but these numbers give us a basic valuation.  For those interested Meachem’s deal is much stronger than Robinsons. Meachem will likely miss out on 45% of his contract value while Robinson will miss out on over 57%. Meachem will earn $14 million while Robinson only $13.8 million in the first two years of their deals at which point they are easily cut.  Meachem also gave himself a faster path to free agency had he been a success, which makes it a knockout even with the lower APY. Back to Hartline…

For those insinuating he got an unreasonable contract, they are simply not looking at the numbers or the market in any kind of reasonable context. If anything he gave the Dolphins a discount for his services unless you want to consider touchdowns being that important. Robinson’s contract came off one breakout year just like Hartline’s. Meachem never had one there was just an assumption that will less other targets on a team his numbers would go up. They didn’t.

So there is almost no logical reason to say the Dolphins overpaid if we are looking at market values and performance at time of signing. You can argue that players like Hartline fall back to earth like these others did but if that’s the argument you just don’t sign the player period. Its not like 200-400 yards is worth a dime in todays pass happy league. Players are almost always going to sign for around what the market will bear.  To expect Hartline to have signed for less than $4 million a season because Jordy Nelson did coming off two more or less non-descript seasons is just not realistic.

Looking closer at these two contracts for Hartline to actually get a strong deal he is going to have to make more than $14 million in cash in the first two years of the contract. I’d argue that he should make at least $15 million to be properly placed with the other two players. Considering Miami has intentions of signing a better player which puts Hartline in a clear number 2 role it will probably result in better performance than the other two players gave their teams where I think they were expected to carry more of the burden.