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 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.


Mike Wallace Ready to Part Ways With Pittsburgh…

The rocky marriage between Mike Wallace and the Pittsburgh Steelers is about ready to end according to reports by Chris Wesseling of

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette acknowledges that the Steelers are likely to lose Wallace, who “turned off some in the front office and the coaching staff” with last year’s holdout. The writing has been on the wall since head coach Mike Tomlin demoted Wallace to “co-starter” with Emmanuel Sanders in November. The speedster went on to complain about his role in coordinator Todd Haley’s spread-the-wealth offense while struggling with concentration and effort.

Wallace, who begrudgingly played out 2012 on a restricted free agent one year contract last season, never seemed to embrace his final year with the Steelers. His numbers trailed off dramatically accounting for only 836 yards on 13.1 YPR as he prepared for his walk season. Wallace who had been one of the most difficult to defend deep threats in the league seemed to lose that role completely as the Steelers moved on.

The question for Wallace, who Wesseling indicates could draw interest from the Browns. Bengals, Chiefs, and Dolphins among others, is whether that season hurts him or not. He reportedly turned down $10 million a year, likely looking to match the $55 million dollar deal signed by Vincent Jackson out in Tampa Bay. Though we know nothing of the supposed structure of such a contract offer $10 million a year would rank higher than everyone at the position except Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald. Statistically he is closet to Jackson, but, with the exception of Jacksons holdout season in 2010 Jackson never had a productivity decrease similar to what Wallace experienced last year. While I do think some teams will note that the Steelers often walk away from talented players at the position (Sanonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress) and that they may have had reasons to phase him out of the offense, I do think that it will be a concern to some teams.

Wallace will likely be helped by the fact that two other star players at the position- Greg Jennings and Dwayne Bowe- are also free agents and are also coming off down seasons. In Jennings case it was due to injury while Bowe played in an inept and archaic offensive system in Kansas City. I think all three have warning signs but all three will be highly sought after and once one goes the market will be officially set for the other two. Of course if the market is much more limited then the bargaining position could be hurt, but with so many young QB’s in the NFL one would expect there to be many teams bidding for Wallace’s services, which should help him get that Vincent Jackson money he is looking for.