Dwayne Bowe Suspended One Game


Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has been suspended for one game due to violation of the NFL drug policies. Due to the suspension he will lose $176,471 in signing bonus money and $514,706 in salary for this season. Bowe will also void his salary guarantees of $8.75 million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2015, though at this stage the 2014 guarantee voiding is simply a matter of semantics as the season is just a few weeks away.

Bowe had signed a five year, $56 million contract extension last year that now looks like one of the worst investments in the NFL. Bowe struggled last season despite the presence of a better QB in Alex Smith and will now be lost for one game this season. The voiding of the $1.5 million guarantee next season will give the Chiefs more benefit if they decide to cut him next season. His cap charge next year will be just under $14 million and the cost to cut will now be just under $9 million. He is set to earn $11 million in cash compensation so Bowe needs to be great for the 15 games he has if he wants to remain on this team next season.




Is Hakeem Nicks’ Value Really Falling?


There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding Hakeem Nicks and his level of play in a contract year. Having watched most of his games this season I can understand the negative feelings towards Nicks. He has clearly fallen out of favor with Eli Manning following the emergence of Victor Cruz in 2011 and has become just another secondary target. At times Nicks doesn’t look like he is concentrating leading to what seems to be a large number of drops.  But at the end of the day does it really matter?

Nicks, by pretty much all accounts, wanted a new contract this offseason. The Giants at one point made it known that Nicks was more valuable that Cruz, which likely only added more reasons to seek a new deal now. The Giants, who really had limited cap space to work with, preferred to let Nicks play out the contract. Nicks was unhappy and maybe that has carried over to the field. But it’s not like he is the first to do this.

Mike Wallace, now of the Miami Dolphins, sulked through his final year in a Steelers uniform. Wallace was a Restricted Free Agent who had no choice but to play on his tender. Like Nicks, Wallace watched a teammate be signed to a contract extension while this occurred. DeSean Jackson of the Eagles had hoped for a new contract in 2011. It never happened and he was unhappy throughout the 2011 season. He did get a new contract in 2012 with the Eagles.

When you look at some of the big name contracts given out to Wide Receivers in the last two years there has been minimal importance given to the “down season”  leading into the new contract. The players I want to look at here are Jackson, Wallace, and Dwayne Bowe. I considered Greg Jennings, but his injury plagued season was so bad I thought that it was unfair to include him.

The following table will include the percentage increase/decrease in a number of key categories from the players “contract season” to  the two year prime season. For Nicks we’ll be using the 2010 and 2011 season as he struggled with injuries in 2012. The categories are target per game, yards per game, yards per target, yards per receptions, and catch rates. All raw data used to compile this figures is courtesy Pro Football Focus






Catch Rate

























In terms of yards per target and yards per reception Nicks numbers are actually better than where he was back in 2010 and 2011 when he looked like a can’t miss player. Each of the other players saw dramatic dips in their contract seasons. On a per game basis  Nicks is right alongside Bowe and Jackson and significantly ahead of Wallace, who crashed on the Steelers.  His reception rate decline is the worst of the group, however, and his targets were way down.

The real important takeaway for a player like Nicks, who used to be a dominant target in the passing game, is that all he has to do is convince one team that the Giants are not featuring him for reasons unknown to him and that it has nothing to do with his play. If he was featured the way he was in the past his numbers would be right on  his career averages, which is more than the other three could say at contract time.

The alarming items for Nicks come from two areas. One is drops. Like I said above his drops seem terrible and the stats completely back that up. His fall in that category is unique compared to the others.
















Nicks is essentially dropping double the amount of passes he did in the past. That should be a red flag to an organization about how distracted he can be once taken out of an offense and a clear indication of a reason why he is not being featured as much in the offense. Nicks does have an injured finger and I am sure they will argue that these numbers are so far above his averages that they are a byproduct of injury, but it would be the one major concern.

The other concern is that you do have to go back, because of injury, two years to hit Nicks’ prime seasons when Eli Manning treated him as a number 1 receiver in an offense. I’m not sure how much weight teams will put on that but it could potentially be an issue.

Again though, all it takes is one team to bite. The Eagles eventually paid Jackson $9.7 million a season, at the time one of the more lucrative contracts at the position. Bowe became the highest receiver not named Calvin or Larry for a few weeks this season before Wallace jumped him with his $12 million a year contract. Whether they are worth it or not is a different debate (Bowe and Wallace are struggling and Jackson is hoping to avoid a re-done contract in 2014), but the seeming lack of production is not something that should compromise his ability to earn a new contract, provided his finishes the year on the same pace. If he can bring his drops down there is little to really point to about his decline.

In some ways it may be better for Nicks to remain on the Giants for the remainder of the season. If he gets traded and fails to perform that could have an impact on him, much more than what is occurring in New York. While I think many positions are capable of transferring offenses in-season I don’t believe wide receiver is one of them. It takes chemistry with your QB to be a top level producer. For whatever reason he doesn’t have that with Eli, but I would think he would have far more chemistry with Eli than with a QB he has never played with before.

Years ago when the Dallas Cowboys traded for Roy Williams of the Lions, Williams was someone with 1,000+ yard talent and an injury history. He was struggling in his contract year and the Cowboys gave up a significant set of draft picks to bring him on the team before the trade deadline. He went from bad to worse in Dallas averaging under 20 yards a game as he struggled to learn the offense. Luckily for Williams, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones blindly gave him a $54 million dollar contract before he ever played a down for Dallas. Had Williams played the season out and failed with the Lions and Cowboys I think his options would have been more limited since you can make an excuse for not being used on one team, but once you get to two teams it starts to look more troublesome.

So if a team is able to pry Nicks away for a minimal haul and fails to extend him then I think his price tag could be damaged. If he keeps doing what he is doing he will have all offseason to convince a number of teams that this one situation was poor in New York and if given the opportunity he’ll be every bit the number 1 receiver most projected him as two years ago.


Thoughts on the Percy Harvin Contract


Thanks to Mike Florio and Pro Football Talk we already have the breakdown of the Percy Harvin contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Per Florio the deal contains $14.5 million in fully guaranteed money another $11 million that is virtually guaranteed. Harvin will earn $36 million in the first three years.

So keeping those figures in mind we can get a better idea of this deal. First of all I think a trade such as this one is a terrible trade for the Seahawks. To trade so many picks for a slot WR who doubles as a kick returner is just foolish and then compounded a hundred times by paying him like he is one notch below Calvin Johnson.  I think Seattle gets a pass for all of their transaction activity these last few years because they play in a small market. The Jets had a label for being trigger happy and running their organization like a Fantasy Football team since Rex Ryan came  to town. The Seahawks make the Jets look like the Steelers. They have their fair share of bad signings but most of it is hidden because they do have a stellar defense and they nabbed a QB in the 3rd round last year that was a complete game changer. Take Russell Wilson out of the equation and this move would be considered one of the worst of all time. But with Wilson in place its looked at as a final piece to a puzzle, which is alot of pressure to now put on a second year QB who will now face teams that have had an entire offseason gameplanning him.

I have calculated the new money in the deal to be equal to $64,245,000 which works out to be $12.849 million a year, a ridiculous figure for a player who has yet to reach 1000 yards in a season and sees most of his receptions come close to the line of scrimmage. All that being said the contract itself is a bit more reasonable that its face value.

Upon signing Harvin has $14.5 million in guarantees, all of which will be paid in what is technically the final year of his rookie contract. If things implode Harvin can be released as soon as the waiver period begins. While  that would lead to a dead money charge of $9.6 million it would represent a savings in cap of  $3.8 million. By comparison Vincent Jackson had a full guarantee of $26 million while Dwayne Bowe collects $16 million in the first year of his contract and has another $9 million that is protected by a dead money charge of $16.25 million that exceeds his $12 million dollar cap charge. So Harvin could in theory by a very expensive 1 year rental while the others are certain to be on the team in the second year of the deal.

All three players have similar two year payouts- Bowe will receive $25 million, Harvin $25.5 million and Jackson $26 million. The third year is where things gets more interesting and show the built in protection the Seahawks have with the contract. In 2015 Harvin will carry a cap charge of $12.9 million. Releasing Harvin saves the team $5.7 million in cap and $10.5 million in cash. He has no guarantees in his contract and it sets the stage for a renegotiation if the player fails to live up to the salary cap numbers. This is exactly what happened to Santonio Holmes of the Jets today and should have happened to Miles Austin in Dallas had the Cowboys not screwed that contract up so badly.  The $7.2 million dead number is similar to that of Jackson making that 3rd year harder to attain. Bowe has more protection with a $9 million dead money cost and what will likely be a small guarantee of base salary. The 4th year of Harvin’s contract most likely has no chance of being earned unless he far exceeds expectations and the WR market continues to grow. He will count for $12.3 million in cap space with only $4.8 million in dead money, This is nearly identical to Jackson’s contractual structure. Bowe has slightly more protection through the signing bonus mechanism, though not enough to guarantee anything.

So the bottom line is that despite the numbers for Harvin being significantly higher the real contract is going to be 3 years for $36 million, identical to Bowe and Jackson. Those two have slightly stronger contract, specifically Bowe, but all three are in the same range. So while Harvin’s deal sounds excessive compared to the market its really right in line with the marketplace if you buy Harvin as a dominant player. I don’t but he will get every opportunity to prove people like me wrong.

View Percy Harvin’s Cap Figures

View Percy Harvin’s Cash Flows


Twitter Q&A and An Introduction- March 5

Well before we get started I’d like to introduce everyone to Jim who is one of the new contributing writers on the site. Jim is a big Raiders fan and an amateur capologist. He’ll be popping in from time to time with his thoughts on the cap and probably doing quite a bit of Raiders related posts, as the Raiders are always a hot salary cap topic. Unfortunately for Jim its rarely positive but one of these days it has to.  Onto the Q&A:

33,( who looks like a big Tony Dorsett fan)- Does the cap increase in the next several years? If so, how does this play into the process of cap planning?

Thats a great question and its one that I certainly can’t fully answer. While the cap does increase every year the projections seem to be that it will remain pretty flat even as the new TV contracts roll in. The union has had to make a number of concessions to get the cap to be even where it is today so my guess is there will be limited growth. That being said projections are nothing more than educated guesses and can change at ant time.

As for the second part of the question it absolutely plays a role. As the salary cap inflates so can contracts. It is far better for a team to shuffle cap dollars to the future because those cap dollars will, in theory, eat up much less of a percentage of the cap than they would in the present. Back in 2006 when the new CBA went into effect teams planned contracts with a certain projection in mind, but by 2007 when the cap begin rising substantially so did the pushing of money and contract values. The problem for teams now is that the cap remains at the same levels at 2009 but star player salaries keep rising. That was one of the points I was trying to make on the Flacco contract. When Eli Manning signed his record breaking deal worth $16.25 million it was on a cap of $123 million rising $5-6 million a year.  The pushing of salaries from that period have essentially made that contract worth nearly $21 million a year but, with a flat cap, it eats up a far larger percentage. To try to protect themselves from that reality the Ravens designed the cap hits of the contract to remain low for the next three years hoping that by 2016 the cap grows substantially making Flacco’s high end numbers seem more reasonable.

From @ross_christie- How much of a contract will a player actually get? Is it just the guaranteed money?

Depends on the quality of player and structure of the contract. If you look at our releases page you can get a good idea as to just how much players earn before being released. Most probably earn around 50% of the contract and in many cases that is because of the protection that was built into the contract. Players that have strong representation, especially those who negotiate with weaker front offices, are able to craft player friendly contracts that make it difficult to release the players. The fact that signing bonus money is prorated and all accelerates onto the cap if released provides another layer of contract protection besides just the fully guaranteed money.  A player that can negotiate a large signing bonus in conjunction with fully guaranteed salary will most likely earn more than players with more guaranteed money but no bonus protection. I would say that it is pretty rare for a player to actually play out his entire contract without ever having a paycut.

From @WeightyThings- For Bowe’s contract structure, what do you think their primary concern was in organizing it? Any player contracts coming up?

I think their main concern was getting a cap friendly deal in year 1, which they accomplished with a $4 million dollar cap hit in year 1. The Chiefs dont really have any cap issues on the horizon so they knew they could deal with the higher cap hits in years 2-5. This maximizes their chances to attract free agents and change the culture in Kansas City.

From @Dessedrengen- how is it possible for Dallas to get under 123.0 when they are at about 126 now, and then the cap penalty?(10mil$ if I guess)

The Cowboys cap penalty this year is $5 million and their adjusted cap, after carryovers, should be around $120.3 million. They did get under the cap for a brief moment before tagging Anthony Spencer. I estimate them to be around $5.6 million over the cap. I cant really see how they will get under the cap without extending Tony Romo. They were going to pay him  ton anyway, but I have a feeling it will be even more now. Romo has all the leverage in the world because Dallas has almost no other options as they have restructured almost everybody on the team. Statistically he can point to Flacco and state a case he deserves close to that, though Romo is older so I cant see that working. Other options would be to restructure Doug Free but he already has a large dead money hit close to $4 million in 2015 at which point his contract should void. Its ugly in Dallas and only going to get worse

From @WeightyThings(a 2nd questions)- Now that Tyson Jackson is back at 5.2 million, what is the Chiefs salary cap looking?

Sometimes initial reports can be wrong, but based on what was reported the Chiefs gained at least $9 million in cap space. It is likely more than that as the way the reports have been worded make me think he needs to reach certain performance levels to even earn that much. If that is the case they will save more against this year cap. The team probably has around $12.5 million though that does not include the deal for Alex Smith.

From L_A_RAIDERS-  The New Regime has only been here 1 year…isnt that statement a little pre mature?? What Crazy contract has Reggie Handed out?

This was in reference to a statement I made on the Raiders decision to continue to not release players but instead keep extending. Its a fair question. I think when you have a situation as bad as the Raiders you have to be willing to make very difficult decisions. They continued to make many of the same moves as the previous regimes. In Richard Seymour’s case they added another void season onto the end of his contract to just increase the inevitable dead money in 2013, which is close to $14 million. They re-signed LB Aaron Curry, who had shown nothing, to a deal that contained 3 voidable contract years and they fully guaranteed his 2012 base salary. He was gone by November. They used a similar void trick to bring Carson Palmers numbers down in 2012 which has just added to more dead money issues either in 2013 or 2014. I just think the abuse of these void years and salary conversions makes it impossible to ever get out of this hole and based on the most recent restructure of a player that most Raider fans seem to think doesnt even fit their offense it just seems to be the same approach. Maybe the moves of 2012 were done out of absolute necessity, but this last one was not.

From @Donkey_Kang With the inflated price of cornerbacks is it more likely the Chargers draft one in first 2 rounds than sign one for big money?

I could see salary cap playing a role for some teams in the draft but I have to think the Chargers are simply in BAP mode. But as a general question if you can find a QB, DE, CB, or WR in the draft you are well ahead of the game in your positional spending. The ability to have rookie contracts playing those position is a huge advantage.

Feel free to keep asking me questions either on Twitter, email, or in postings. Ill try to answer them as best I can in the future.


Dwayne Bowe Cashes In

Thanks to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk the full details of the Dwayne Bowe extension are now available.  Bowe will now become the 3rd highest paid WR in the league on a 5 year $56 million dollar contract. The deal contains $20 million in full guarantees and significantly more in virtual guarantees. It comes very close to the deal I suggested of 5 years $57.8 million with 20 million in full guarantees and $38 million in the first three years. My guess is he could have gotten a touch extra in free agency but normally players do give slight discounts to home teams to take the question mark out of the whole process and that is what happened here. Based on Florio’s report this is the cap structure for Bowe over the next 5 years:

Base SalaryProrated WorkoutCap ChargeDead MoneySavingsCash Flow

The important contract to compare this to is that of Vincent Jackson. Jackson received $26 million in full guarantees when he signed with $36 million due in the first three years. Jackson received no signing bonus on the initial deal but did restructure in December to gain prorated money protection in his contract. Because prorated money accelerates when a player is cut it adds a layer of protection to a contract in addition to the real guarantees. One of the reasons Jackson surpasses Bowe in real guarantees is because he had zero protection for his third year salary since there was no dead money cost associated with releasing him, something I had touched on in the Bowe valuation from a few weeks ago.

Bowe has that protection. Even compared to Jackson’s current deal Bowe will carry a $9 million dollar dead cap hit in 2015 plus an additional $1.5 million in salary that will become fully guaranteed in early 2014 according to Florio. That means Bowe, if on the team in 2014, will carry an $11.5 million dollar dead cap charge to cut. Jackson is only protected to the tune of $7.296 million. It makes this a much stronger contract for Bowe.

Now that the market is clearly intact Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings will try to state their cases that they deserve this kind of money. Personally I feel Bowe is a better player based on a number of statistical factors, but all it takes is one team to think otherwise to get a bigger deal done.


Estimating the Value of WR Greg Jennings

Well today the story came out from multiple sources that free agent wide receiver Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers would like a contract worth $14 million a season. That seems like pretty lofty goals for a player who only saw action in 8 games last season and created 366 yards of offense for the team. A salary of $14 million a year would rank Jennings 3rd in the NFL and well above the market prices for anyone not named Johnson or Fitzgerald.  I’ve personally considered Jennings to be the least of the “big 3” of Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, and Mike Wallace but those thoughts were just based on watching the players rather than strong analysis of anything.  Now I’ve done analysis of both players and what they should receive so lets take a look at exactly how Jennings may stack up against these two players.

Basic Stats

Now for starters I am just going to throw out Jennings 2012 campaign since he dealt with injuries most of the season. While I don’t think a team can just throw that out for the sake of comparison I will do that just to see what the highest end market is for Jennings. So for Jennings the 3 year statistics will be from 2009-2011:






Catch Rate





























Clearly these are solid numbers and superior to both Wallace and Bowe, but Jennings also plays in a prolific offense with arguably the best Quarterback in the NFL.

Comparative Stats

Now comes the time where we look to see just how much Jennings contributed to his team’s wide receiver corps. over that three year stretch.

Team Tgts

Team Rec

Team Yds

Team Tds

Team Ints

























Overall these are extremely steady numbers. He is more or less about 1/3 of the Packer passing attack that gets filtered to the Wideouts. His yardage contribution began to decline in 2011 (and these stats are adjusted for only his 13 games played so its not due to less games) and his interceptions are higher than expected given his targets, both of which are negatives. Green Bay seems to have little interest in bringing him back and I think these numbers paint a picture as to why. He is part of the machine but not the key component of it.

Comparable Players

Rather than rehashing the old charts with all the players lets just look at Jennings in comparison to the other two stud free agents.


From a standpoint of importance there is little comparison between Jennings and Bowe. Bowe was on a far worse team with no supporting cast. He was the dominant figure in Kansas City accounting for nearly 50% of the WR offense. Those are the numbers that define true number 1 potential. Jennings was targeted slightly more than Wallace in Pittsburgh but did not have the yardage production of Wallace. The touchdown category is no comparison. Bowe and Wallace are potential difference makers, Jennings is not. Jennings also saw a much higher percentage of passes get picked off than these other two players.

The Final Verdict

If you want to get a better idea of the market you can just read the two articles I wrote looking at Bowe and Wallace. Even discounting the last season Jennings is simply not in the same class as the group of talent that makes over $10 million a season. At best you would say he would earn the same as Wallace, which I put to be in that $9.7 million dollar range, but that doesn’t even take into account the other variables that come into play with Jennings.

Jennings has only played in 21 regular season games over the last two years. His YPC fell to 14.2 in 2011 to just 10.6 in 2012 after years of being around 16. That’s a 38% drop. Jennings will be in his 8th NFL season next year compared to 7th for Bowe and only 5th for Wallace. In a study I am working on looking at productivity of receivers beyond their 5th year in the NFL, the drops in production seem to begin in year 9 for elite receivers and Jennings is close to that and his numbers are already seemingly in the declining stage.  While that won’t make him unproductive by any means he probably will not be the  consistent 1,000+ yard number 1 target that a team would expect. Most likely he fits best on a team that is in a “win now” position rather than a developmental stage like the Miami Dolphins., unless they were going to pair him with another high quality wide receiver, such as Wallace.

$14 million is a pipe dream. If he accomplishes that number that is truly amazing, but I can’t imagine any team would see him as that type of talent. My guess is the model we would be looking at would be that of Anquan Boldin in Baltimore back in 2010. Boldin was in his 8th season in the NFL when traded to the Baltimore Ravens and quickly signed a new 3 contract extension worth $25 million in new money containing $8 million in firm guarantees and $10 million in functional guarantees. Boldin’s numbers immediately tailed off though he was always a useful player and was an integral part of their Super Bowl run, but he just never was the dominant player they expected.

At the time I believe the top market contract was Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals making $10 million a year with $15 million in guarantees.  So Boldin’s deal was 83% of the top market number in the league and a few percent less on the guaranteed percentage of the contract. Maybe that is where Jennings came up with $14 million. The top of the market APY is now around $16.2 million, 83% of which is just under $13.5 million a year.  The problem with using that number as a base is that the two contracts at the top of the market are positional outliers which won’t be used by other teams as a point of reference.  The real top of the market is Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson at just under $11.2 million a year. Based off that salary Jennings new APY would be $9.296 million a year which fits in much better with our statistical analysis and actual past market data.

So I think Jennings realistically is looking at a 4 year contract worth just north of $37 million with around $12 million in real guarantees and between $15 and 16 million in functional guarantees assuming teams feel he is perfectly healthy and negotiate based on what he did prior to 2012. I think for him to push the price point to DeSean Jackson territory ($9.7 million a year) he will need to reach certain incentives to get there.  My guess is most teams would be disappointed with the overall results over the 4 year period but that is a reasonable deal if he can sign with a winning team.

What benefits Jennings finding a home and maybe pushing the price is the fact that he was injured last season and put up a statistically poor season. Teams that should be most interested in a player like Jennings who is likely just out of his prime are those that think its window of opportunity is now such as the Patriots, Texans, 49ers, or even Cowboys. Those are the type of teams that tend to overpay a bit for results in the present and deal with the problems that could arise in the future.  Utilizing a number of “not likely to be earned” incentives in his contract such as a large bonuses for40 receptions or 400 yards available one time in any of the next four years and backed up by guaranteed base salary in future years, cap strapped teams can fit Jennings under the cap in 2013 and push those charges out into future years when perhaps they have more payroll flexibility. That’s really the perfect match for Jennings and his best chance of getting his top contract.


Estimating the Value of WR Mike Wallace

Since the first player valuation seemed to be well received I wanted to turn my attention (especially since I have a number of stats ready to go) to WR Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers who is one of a number of wideouts that will be competing for top dollar in free agency. Unlike Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City there seems to be no door open to return to Pittsburgh, who not only have salary cap issues but also seemed fed up with Wallace’s late entry to camp as he refused to sign his restricted free agent tender.  I also want to point out because I forgot in the last article that the raw data that I use to make these statistical comparisons come from our friends at Profootballfocus.com. The analysis and calculations are all my own, but the basic numbers come from them.

Basic Stats

Here we have our initial look at Wallaces stats over the prior three seasons:

GRecYdsAvgTDCatch Rate

At first glance our clear warning sign comes from the 2012 season. Other than touchdowns Wallaces numbers fell badly, specifically his catch rate and average per catch. Now the Steelers had a number of changes that occurred with their offense this season so the next step is to dig in a little deeper and see if that played a role in Wallace’s decline this year.

Comparative Performance

The one point I will always make when discussing a wide receiver is that it may be the most dependent position in all of football and there is little that they can do one on one that makes a difference if the other 10 parts of the team are not doing their job. Whether it’s a QB getting them the ball on target or the line giving the WR enough time to get open, the Wide Receiver can not really make an impact on his own in any manner. This is why a player like Larry Fitzgerald has become a complete non-factor in Arizona or why Steve Smith was wasted in his prime years in Carolina.  Keeping that in mine, I want to look at Wallace’s contribution to the Steelers wide receiver corps in games he played the last three seasons:

Team Tgts

Team Rec

Team Yds

Team TDs

Team Ints

























There are a few numbers in 2012 that concern me. The Steelers were actually utilizing him more within their passing scheme buy the receptions and yards did not increase by the same levels. His interception rate spiked. His catch rate fell dramatically as well this season. In 2009 and 2010 he caught more targets than his peers as a whole which is impressive because he was the deep guy on the team, and those are much lower percentage passes.  Overall it makes me wonder if he spent the year sulking about his contract and that worries me when signing him as a free agent.

Comparable Players

Similar to Bowe Wallace is probably going to look at Vincent Jackson and DeSean Jackson as comparison points. Most likely Bowe has two players in mind when looking for a new deal- Vincent Jackson and DeSean Jackson, who both signed new contracts in 2012. This time I want to include Santonio Holmes of the Jets in the discussion. The table below compares the 3 year averages of each player prior to their extension:







Catch Rate

Mike Wallace








Dwayne Bowe








Vincent Jackson








DeSean Jackson








Santonio Holmes








Overall the numbers do paint an interesting picture. In terms of durability he is the best of the bunch having missed 1 game in the last three season. Statistically he is nearly identical to Vincent Jackson and gives similar touchdown performance. In terms of utilization he doesn’t compare to either Bowe or Holmes.  Unlike DeSean Jackson Wallace brings a more consistent catch rate into the picture and is more of a scoring threat. Based on these numbers I would say the first inclination would be to sign Wallace for the same contract as V. Jackson received with the Buccaneers.  But let’s look further.

Number 1 or Not?

When you talk about committing $11 million a year to a wide receiver you are clearly making the leap of faith that this is the guy that can be your pure number 1 target and be the kind of player that really fixes your passing game. I would say the Miami Dolphins are clearly a team that would be interested in this type of potential as they saw what an impact V. Jackson had in Tampa Bay when he slotted into the number 1 position. This is where I get worried with Wallace. First lets compare him to what I consider the upper tier of the group, which is Bowe and V. Jackson. These numbers are three year averages of worth to the teams WR corps before they got the free agent dollars. In Jackson’s case it’s a two year look because he held out for almost all of 2010.

WR Comparisons

Outside of TD production there are clear differences between the two “upper bound” players and Wallace. That does not mean that Wallace can not be a number 1 target, but I think the numbers would say he really has yet to prove that he can do it. Bowe has been the primary threat in all facets for three years. Jackson was there for two of them. The only areas where Wallace competes are in touchdowns as he was the go to guy in Pittsburgh and in interceptions where targets intended for him were picked off far less than those against Jackson. Still the touchdowns are lower than the other two and the percentage of yards and targets is poor. So if I intend to sign Wallace for Jackson money and what I assume will be Bowe money I making a much riskier leap of faith than I did with those two players.

Now lets look at the “lower bound” market.

Wr Comparisons

See now I find this set to be far more appropriate when putting a number on Wallace than the other grouping. These are the guys that probably should at least have raised a small red flag when giving them upper market money to be the number 1 player. In Holmes’ case he imploded when the offense was designed to run through him. The Eagles seemed to wisely continue their spread the ball system before Jackson got injured and we will likely get a better idea next year as to how Jackson fares if given more responsibility.

Market Value

Here is the breakdown of the three player contracts:



% Guar

3 Year Pay

V. Jackson





D. Jackson





S. Holmes





As I discussed in my Bowe valuation I think that the discrepancy between the two Jackson contracts was tied mainly into the belief that one player was a safer bet to be a number 1 than the other. All things considered D. Jacksons’ and Holmes’ contracts are not much different despite the higher APY for Jackson. Jacksons’ realistic takehome over 3 years is only $1 million higher, representing about a 3.5% raise over Holmes’ contract which was frontloaded receiving over 61% in the first three years while Jackson only received 58.7%.

Those numbers to me are Wallace’s real market worth. There was very little if any statistical difference between Jackson and Holmes. Maybe a small difference based on total yards which was probably based as much on offensive philosophy as much as anything else. That slight difference in three year pay may just be the increase of the market as a whole due to the Fitzgerald contract extension in 2011.  Calvin Johnson, who signed a day before DeSean Jackson, probably had little bearing on the contract and maybe raised the market slightly higher but likely not by much.

The Final Verdict

The lone selling point that I think Wallace has is that his TD ratios which are impressive compared to some other high end players. Outside of that I think many teams are going to hesitate on giving him top 3 or 4 WR money and will instead use the D. Jackson deal as a point of reference. I would personally peg his value as significantly less than that of Bowe and I don’t think I would offer much more than Jackson received. Maybe in the ballpark of 5 years at $49-49.5 million with $16 in firm guarantees and $29 million in the first three years.

Wallace supposedly turned down $10 million a season from the Steelers but in reality that was a generous offer unless it was completely backloaded. I think this is a situation where Wallace is banking on a desperate team with a lot of cap room throwing a ton of cash at him. If I had to venture a guess I would think their lowest price that they think is fair would be representative of the increase Jackson received over Holmes which would give Wallace $10.45 million a season with $30.7 million coming in the first three seasons.

That is highly overpaying for the risk involved and there is probably a good chance that Wallace is not going to be a build it around me player.  I also think what works against Wallace is that this is a loaded free agent class of wide receivers. Besides Bowe there is Greg Jennings and you also have Wes Welker and RFA Victor Cruz as potential slot targets.   While Wallace could end up being the guy who gets paid because the other teams missed out I doubt there is any one team that, at the start of free agency, feels he is the only free agent option on the market and thus they need to pay him highly. If you are a team that is going to go beyond $10 million a season just remember there is a clear “buyer beware” sign when you make that move.