A Look at the Options Open for the Bills and S Jairus Byrd


With teams gearing up to play the dress rehearsal game, the one big name player still missing is S Jairus Byrd of the Buffalo Bills. Byrd is the lone Franchise player who has yet to sign a tender to become an active player in the NFL.  From most reports on the situation there seems to be little movement in getting Byrd into uniform.

While I didn’t run the numbers for Byrd the way I might for others I think it’s safe to say he is one of the two or three best Safeties in the NFL and deserves to be paid right at the top of the position. The Buccaneers overpayment for Dashon Goldson probably pushed the asking price for Byrd even higher. Goldson received a five year contract worth $8.25 million a year with $18 million in solid guarantees and  $25.5 million in injury guarantees and three year pay.   The best player is actually Eric Weddle of the Chargers who comes in at $8 million a year, $19 million in full guarantees, and $25 million in the first three years.

Those are the numbers that Byrd is looking for, but the Franchise tag pays him only $6.916 million. One of the worries of signing the Franchise tender is that Byrd opens himself up to being tagged again in 2014. Often times the cost of the second tag, 120% of a players prior year’s salary, makes it prohibitive to tag a player two times in a row, however because this is a low cost position and because the Bills have what looks to be a reasonable cap situation in 2014, tagging Byrd remains a very real possibility.

The NFL puts a deadline on the team that Franchises a player to sign that player to a multiyear extension, a date which has long passed so both sides are locked into a one year contract. From the Bills perspective this creates a bargain situation. Had they signed him to an extension he would have received upwards of $20 million in guarantees. Now he only has $6.9. If they tag a second time they will only pay Byrd $15,215,200 in salary in 2013 and 2014. Goldson and Weddle earned $18 and $19 million respectively in the first two years of their contract.

It really only becomes the third time where tagging Byrd becomes cost prohibitive for the Bills. By that point in time Byrd will be 29. While that is the same age Goldson will be this year many teams will look at that as a decline year and in many cases simply not be interested in signing him.

The bottom line is because of the way the Franchise tag now operates, in which tender amounts are smoothed out, high end players at traditionally lower cost positions (Safety, Tight End, etc…) lose any leverage in negotiating a contract. That is what is happening with Byrd and why he will likely continue to maintain his position as long as possible.

So what is a fair solution at this stage of the game?  Publically both sides say they want one another, but the options right now are limited because the two sides may only sign a one year agreement. However, the price and terms of that contract can be negotiated. The easiest solution would seem to be for the Bills to put a provision in Byrd’s contract that prohibits the use of the Franchise tag in 2014. This is not completely uncommon and would protect Byrd’s rights in 2014.

The other option would be for the Bills to show that they want Byrd and actually increase his salary. If the Bills are adamant about not prohibiting the use of the tag for fear of setting precedence for other free agents, they could agree to raise the price for Byrd to put his payouts closer to that of the high end of the market. While that may also set a bad precedent as well, if they are truly committed to keeping Byrd it is a fair option.

To accomplish this The Bills would give Byrd a raise of $1,266,000 in 2013. The one year contract would then be for a total of $8,182,000. If the Bills were to tag Byrd again his 2014 salary would then equal $9,818,400. That salary accomplishes two things. One it is high enough to where the Bills may consider not using it, in effect acting as the “no tag” provision Byrd wants. If they choose to use it, Byrd’s two year payout would be $18,000,400 which is exactly in line with where he should be had he signed a long term extension this year based on the Goldson and Weddle numbers. That is a good faith gesture by the Bills about their desire to keep Byrd in Buffalo.

Time is certainly running out for both sides. It is rare for a player to miss games but Byrd certainly seems pretty dug in on his stance right now. We will have to wait and see how the next two weeks unfold, but there are ways that the two sides should be able to find common ground to get him on the field in a Bills uniform.


Best & Worst Contracts: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers


A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts.  Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.

Donald PennBest Contract: Donald Penn

Penn never misses a game and is a steady player who made good, but by no means great, money at a time when Left Tackles had exploding salaries. Penn was a restricted free agent in 2010 which put him in a negative position when trying to negotiate a contract. The Buccaneers could have forced Penn to play the year at slight above $3 million and then let him re-enter free agency in 2011. Instead they signed him to a contract that gave Penn some protection and the Buccaneers favorable terms over the life of the contract.

Penn would not receive top level money and would be required to play at a very high level to bring his average to that of some of the better players at the position, with incentives tied to Pro Bowl nominations. Only $6.5 million of Penn’s new contract was fully guaranteed, $2 million of which came in the form of a signing bonus, giving the Buccaneers an easy escape if his play declined. In return for the lower APY and guarantees Penn would receive a guaranteed $6.5 million in 2010, more than doubling his salary for the year, and another non-guaranteed $7.6 million in 2011. He also received injury guarantees for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Tampa Bay tied $600,000 per season to weight based incentives and also included $400,000 per year in workout money to ensure that he participates in the teams’ offseason workout and conditioning programs. With no real guarantees and only $333,333 in prorated money each year, Penn has to keep up a solid level of play to maintain his spot on the team. The team was able to also receive favorable terms in the middle portion of the contract with cap charges never exceeding $6.4 million dollars.  He can earn pay raises at the end of his contract, at which point the cost to cut him would be less then $1 million making those raises more or less worthless as he would be released prior to any raises kicking in.

dashon goldsonWorst Contract: Dashon Goldson

The way the Buccaneers structure their contracts makes it difficult to find a bad contract in terms of longevity. Since most of their deals contain no prorated money you really can only examine the frontend of the contract to try to best determine how good or how bad the contract is.  One of the negative features of the contract philosophy is that the Buccaneers are often overpaying for players.  Almost every one of their big free agent signings over the last two seasons you can make an argument are overpaid and receive contracts with higher guarantees than better players. The philosophy also can turn deals from passable to bad with the stroke of a pen when cap relief is needed and prorated money is added to the contract, as they did with Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks at the end of last season.

I think a strong case can be made that Nicks is the worst contract on the team following the restructure because it now is the worst of both worlds- overpaid plus a contractual structure that gives added layers of protection to the player- but I think Goldson stands out even moreso than Nicks because of the talent level. Nicks is a legit exceptional player. Goldson is more of a reputation player. That doesn’t make him bad by any stretch but he is someone that was aided greatly by the defense he played on.

Looking at the top end of the Safety market Goldson does not compare to players like Eric Weddle yet he is essentially making the same type of money. His first two years are completely guaranteed and his $9 million dollar cap charges these next two seasons are going to rank in the top 5 both seasons, figures that should be too high based on what he will give the team.  I’m not sure if many people realize that Goldson will be 29 this year. Weddle was 26 when he signed his extension. Kam Chancellor will only be 25 this season. Jairus Byrd is 27. Antrel Rolle was 28 in his season of signing. It is a significantly higher risk to guarantee the type of money that the Buccaneers guaranteed to Goldson. The real comparable to Goldson is someone like LaRon Landry who earned $6 million a year with $11 million guaranteed on a deal most thought was overpayment for the 29 year old Safety.

The more worrisome aspect will be if they decide that they need more cap room and go to him for relief as he and CB Darrelle Revis would be the logical candidates for cap relief as they look to get the funds to sign or re-sign a Quarterback. That would have the potential to make his contract a real problem in the future with more cap charges in excess of $9 million a season. Unfortunately because of the high guarantees in 2013 and 2014, plus an injury guarantee in 2015, they have little wiggle room if they need cap relief for another spending spree next offseason. Currently the Buccaneers are projected to be a few million under the 2014 salary cap, a projection that does not include a QB salary making Goldson a likely restructure candidate.

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsTennessee Titans

AFC West: Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersSan Diego Chargers

NFC East: Dallas CowboysNew York GiantsPhiladelphia EaglesWashington Redskins

NFC North: Chicago BearsDetroit LionsGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina PanthersNew Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West: Arizona Cardinals(July 29)


Kam Chancellor and the Safety Market


Now that the contract parameters are in for Safety Kam Chancellor lets look to see how he stacks up with some other players. For this article I’ll be using stats from Pro Football Focus, though most will be raw data that I am using to grade a player under my own metrics.

Pass Coverage

The first category I want to look at is pass coverage. Now admittedly this is difficult to grade because Safeties are often in help and both good and bad numbers may not really show up in the PFF stat database but here is how Chancellor compares to the other 79 players who have played at least 200 coverage snaps last season.

Tgt %

Comp %

Int %



League Average


















Where Chancellor really stands out is his stellar Yards Per Catch and Yards after Catch categories. It means players are not getting deep over the top of him and he is capable of maintaining short coverages for his team. His biggest weakness from last season was lack of interceptions. He was one of only 16 safeties to not record an interception.

Based on the league averages and the fact that Chancellor had 599 plays in pass coverage we can determine that the average safety would have been targeted about 42 times and given up nearly 27 receptions for 344.3 yards. Chancellor only gave up 308 so he saved his team 36.3 yards last season. That’s a decrease in 10.7%. In terms of yards improvement that ranked 32nd and percentage of yards 36th. The best player last season was Harrison Smith who saved his team 211 yards. The worst was Roman Harper who allowed an extra 336.

Of course none of these grades take into account the fact that safeties help in coverage and are there to make stops when a reception is made. To try to measure this I’ll look at a pure PFF category called tackling efficiency which measures how many tackles opportunities a player has per tackle they miss. Considering a safety is often the last line of defense a missed tackle can be devastating.

Chancellor ranks 15th in the group with a rate of 13 tackles per miss, well above the average of 8.6. That is exceptional.

Pass Rush

Chancellor only rushed 11 times last season, pressuring the QB once. In general this is a non-factor when evaluating Safeties. Using a formula I developed Chancellor would be considered to increase the chance of play failure, definied as a complete or incomplete, by 0.09% with his pass rushing.

Run Support

For run support I wanted to look at 4 categories. The first is percentage of tackles that PFF records as stops that occur when the Safety lines up essentially “in the box” and plays run. The second ategory are plays where the Safety is lined up more than 8 yards from the line, indicating the ability to jump a play despite not necessarily playing run. We also look at tackle attempts per miss as well as total tackles per run snap.


(In the Box)

Stops/Tackle (Other)

Tackle/Missed Tackle







League Average










In general I think Chancellor would be regarded as an average or slightly above average run defender based on how he played last season. His best feature is that when lining up deep he is being proactive and making stops rather than just tackles after the offense has picked up “winning” yardage.

The Market

I wanted to look at a number of players whose contracts could be used as a baseline for Chancellors value. First we will start with our coverage, with the percentages indicating the percentage above or below the average player expectation in a category:

Yards Prevented

Coverage Tackles


Eric Weddle




Dashon Goldson




Antrel Rolle




Michael Griffin




Tyvon Branch




William Moore




LaRon Landry




Kam Chancellor




Antoine Bethea




Roman Harper




Our second category will be the rushing numbers:

% Stops within 8 yd

% Other Stops

Missed Tackles


Eric Weddle





Dashon Goldson





Antrel Rolle





Michael Griffin





Tyvon Branch





William Moore





LaRon Landry





Kam Chancellor





Antoine Bethea





Roman Harper





Finally we have an aggregate score where each category will be averaged and then given a weight of 58.6% for coverage, 38.7% for run support, and 2.7% for rushing. These numbers are indicative of the typical Safety play assignments so that we weigh each phase of the game appropriately.





Eric Weddle





Tyvon Branch





Antoine Bethea





Kam Chancellor





Dashon Goldson





LaRon Landry





Antrel Rolle





Michael Griffin





William Moore





Roman Harper





Of the veteran safeties Chancellor certainly ranks well above the average which is more than going to justify the $7 million a year he is said to be earning on his new contract. When looking at this list the most apparent thing is that Weddle is so far and away the number 1 veteran player and that at $8 million a year he is probably underpaid considering the performance of the rest of the market. That may indicate that there is a point of performance where teams no longer consider it worth the extra dollars.

Chancellor’s new APY will rank 4th among these players, slightly above Branch and Bethea. Those two are probably better values but these players are all so close that its pretty subjective to rank the three. If you are looking for all around value Branch may be the best but if you want a stronger coverage guy while still offering good run support Chancellor is the better bet. Almost all the older veterans such as Harper and Rolle have no business being paid what they are being paid. Rolle could be in danger if the Giants draft more secondary help on Thursday or Friday. Harper is probably safe as the Saints front office is seemingly oblivious to the salary cap and future consequences of overpaying bad talent.

The other noticeable thing is how badly the Buccaneers overpaid for the name value that Goldson brings to the table. Statistically he was an average safety that had slightly more interceptions than an average player. In no way should he be making more than Weddle and in the context of this group is probably worth just slightly over $6 million per year. William Moore is also grossly overpaid at $6 million a year. Considering those two players and Landry both signed this year the Seahawks are arguably getting a very good deal with Chancellor who is far superior to those three players.

We may get a better read on the contract when all the details are in but I’d say that this is a deal that both sides will be happy with over the next two or three seasons. One of those rare “on paper” win-win situations.