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In Ivan Hoffman’s “Leverage in Contract and Other Negotiations,” Hoffman defines “leverage” in the first line of the article:

The term “leverage” refers to the principle of using a small advantage (or in negotiating terms, even merely a perceived advantage) to gain a much larger benefit.

In Joe Flacco’s upcoming contract negotiations with the Baltimore Ravens, he has more than a “small” advantage. An impressive playoff run and a high-caliber Super Bowl performance has given Flacco more leverage than arguably any other player in the NFL this offseason. So what should the Ravens do with Joe Flacco? Well, here are their options:

  1. Sign him to a long-term contract
  2. Franchise tag him with an “exclusive” tag
  3. Franchise tag him with a “non-exclusive” tag
  4. Trade him
  5. Cut him

Okay— neither number 4 or 5 is an option so go ahead and throw them out. Realistically, the Ravens will either sign him to a long-term deal or tag him. But which option is the wisest for the Ravens?

The popular answer seems to be the long-term contract with a reluctant, “he deserves it.”

…does he?

The proponents of the Ravens giving Flacco a long-term deal consistently cite Flacco’s win-loss record, Super Bowl victory, and his impressive playoff run.

It astonishes me how often commentators, analysts, and writers refer to win-loss records as a quarterback’s record. During his contract negotiations with the Lions, I guarantee you never heard the Lions say, “Barry Sanders was 5-11 as a starter with the Lions last year, so we don’t think he’s worth that much.” I understand the quarterback position is the most valuable position on an NFL team, especially in today’s pass-happy league. But to attribute 100% of the credit to the quarterback is absurd. If you asked anyone citing Flacco’s win-loss record as a reason why he should receive a long-term deal if they believed he was 100% responsible for winning or losing every game, they’d all tell you no. Yet they’ll still cite it in a matter-of-fact tone as strong evidence as to why the Ravens should give him the contract?

Watch all of the Ravens’ playoff games again (I have with the NFL’s Game Rewind, which is a great deal by the way) and you’ll see how much happened out of Joe’s control that contributed his performance. Obviously this applies to every quarterback, but I’d say it happens for Joe Flacco more so than most quarterbacks. Flacco is the beneficiary of a lot of “high-point” grabs by the big receivers he has in Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. He also benefits from great playmakers in the open field, such as Jacoby Jones and Ray Rice.

For instance, in week 12 the Ravens were down 10 to 13 to the Chargers, and on 4th and 29 with 1:50 left in the 4th quarter, Joe Flacco dumped the ball off to Ray Rice, and Ray did the rest. Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle…

One isolated instance is nowhere near enough proof to make the statement that “Flacco gets more help than most,” but I can’t prove that statement without forcing you to watch all of Flacco’s game film.

What I can provide you with is applicable stats. Here’s Joe Flacco’s career stats:

Year Comp. % Yards TD INT
2008 60.0% 2,971 14 12
2009 63.1% 3,613 21 12
2010 62.6% 3,622 25 10
2011 57.6% 3,610 20 12
2012 59.7% 3,817 22 10

And here’s his Total QBR and where his QBR ranked in the league for each year:

Year Total QBR Rank
2008 43.2 27th
2009 55.0 15th
2010 60.4 12th
2011 59.7 14th
2012 46.8 25th

Flacco’s agent says Flacco deserves “to be the highest-paid quarterback in the game[.]” And why wouldn’t he? His guy just won the Super Bowl.

But the “highest-paid quarterback” in the game is a fleeting title. As the quarterback position has increasingly gained value, there has been a revolving door of blockbuster deals. Currently, Drew Brees holds the title with a 5 year, $100 million contract.

So let’s say the Ravens make Flacco the highest-paid quarterback in the league with a 5 year, $101 million contract. What does that mean? Well, if it’s structured like Drew Brees’ contract, it’d look something like this:

Year Salary Bonus Cap Hit
2013 $3.0M $7.6M $10.6M
2014 $9.75M $7.85M $17.6M
2015 $10.75M $7.85M $18.6M
2016 $18.75M $7.85M $26.6M
2017 $19.75M $7.85M $27.6M

Brees was 33 when he signed his deal, while Flacco is only 28, so Flacco’s agent may argue that he deserves more guaranteed because he’s younger.

Either way, in this scenario Flacco would have the Ravens on the hook for a lot of money. If they backload the deal, the contract could contain clauses relieving them of contractual obligations if they released him prior to a certain date.

The Ravens’ alternative to committing themselves to a long-term deal such as this one is the franchise tag. The non-exclusive tag would cost the Ravens $14.6M, while the exclusive tag would cost the Ravens between $20M and $21M.

The non-exclusive tag would give other teams the ability to negotiate a contract with Flacco. If another team made an offer, the Ravens would have to match the offer to keep him. Additionally, if the Ravens choose not to match the offer, the team that signed Flacco would have to give Baltimore two 1st round picks as compensation. Yet the Ravens would need to match because there will be no one better than Flacco in free agency or the draft.

If they choose to tag Flacco with the exclusive tag, they will take a $20M+ salary cap hit in 2013. A hit they may not be able to afford.

So here we stand—a long term deal, an exclusive franchise tag, or a non-exclusive franchise tag—a true predicament.

If I was the General Manager of the Baltimore Ravens, here’s the choice I’d make:

The $14.6M non-exclusive franchise tag. 

Here’s why:

I’d gamble on the fact that I don’t believe any team would be willing to pay more than a $21M a year and give up two 1st round picks for a quarterback that hasn’t ranked in the top 10 in total QBR in his career. I say $21M and not $14.6M because if a team offers more than $14.6M, I can still match their offer and keep Joe. The only way it becomes a bad decision is if they offer more than the exclusive tag would have cost me ($20M-$21M). In my mind, here’s the two realistic scenarios:

Worst Case Scenario: A team makes an offer surpassing the $14.6M tag. In response, we would match the offer and negotiate the long-term deal. (The NFL CBA allows a team to negotiate and come to terms with their non-exclusive tagged player until the Tuesday following the 10th week of the NFL season.)

Best Case Scenario: No team is willing to match the $14.6M tag and give up two 1st round picks, so we have Joe Flacco under a 1 year contract for $14.6M. While the cap hit would be $4M more than the cap hit taken in the hypothetical long-term contract, it’s a good trade off for two reasons: (1) it delays the team from having to make a giant financial commitment to Flacco, and (2) it gives Flacco a season where he could possibly, and most likely would, lose a lot of the leverage he had going into the 2013 season.

Joe Flacco will likely play the 2013 NFL season without the likes of Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, and others (including future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis). If he has a phenomenal year individually, something he has never done, then he deserves the giant long-term deal. But, more than likely, he will lose some of the leverage he currently has over the next year, which would make the negotiation table much more palatable to the Ravens.

… unless they win another Super Bowl. In which case, you just pay up.

A few notes:

  1. In no way am I saying Joe Flacco is a bad quarterback. Joe Flacco is a very good quarterback, but he’s not a top 5 quarterback. Football is a business, and I’m trying to look at it from a business perspective. The less money you have to tie up in your quarterback, the more money you have to spend on other positions.
  2. I had a really tough time deciding between tags here. My eventual decision to choose the non-exclusive tag came down to the limited cap space the Ravens already have for this year. If they commit $20M+ to Joe Flacco, they’ll have to make some major moves, whether that’s restructuring contracts or cutting players.
  3. Salary information was provided by spotrac.com.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

National Signing Day is Just the Beginning

Tyler Raborn —  Wednesday, February 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

Earlier today, J.J. Watt tweeted this motivational tweet:

J.J. Watt Tweet

The All-Pro defensive end makes a good point— a player’s college or pro football success doesn’t depend on how highly touted a player is coming out of high school. Hard work, good coaching, and a few lucky breaks significantly weigh into a recruit’s eventual performance on the field.

For proof, just look at the 2012 NFL All-Pro Team and how many stars they had from Scout and Rivals coming out of high school (players that graduated high school before 2002 are not in the database):

Position

Player

Scout

Rivals

QB Peyton Manning
RB Adrian Peterson 5 5
RB Marshawn Lynch 4 4
FB Vonta Leach
WR Calvin Johnson 5 4
WR Brandon Marshall
TE Tony Gonzalez
OT Duane Brown 3 3
OT Ryan Clady 2 2
G Mike Iupati 2 2
G Jahari Evans
C Max Unger 2 3
DE J.J. Watt 2 2
DE Cameron Wake
DT Geno Atkins 3 4
DT Vince Wilfork
OLB Von Miller 4 4
OLB Aldon Smith 3 3
ILB NaVorro Bowman 4 4
ILB Patrick Willis 2 3
CB Richard Sherman 3 3
CB Charles Tillman
S Earl Thomas 4 4
S Dashon Goldson 3 4
KR Jacoby Jones 2 2

So, more than likely, there’s a 2-star player signing somewhere today with little to no media attention that will one day be an All-Pro NFL player.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

As tradition has it, by winning the MVP of the Super Bowl, Joe Flacco spent Monday– or at least part of it– in Disney World parading through the Magic Kingdom and conducting an interview here and there. So that got me thinking… where in the world did this tradition start and why Disney World?

Believe it or not, the first use of the phrase “we’re going to Disney World,” (plural in this case) was Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in 1987.  In December 1986, these two had piloted the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. The two were in Disneyland for the grand opening of the new Star Tours attraction and were eating with CEO Michael Eisner and his wife Jane when they were asked what they were going to next. They responded with the now famous phrase, which set off a lightbulb in the head of Jane Eisner.

A few short weeks later, Disney launched the campaign following Super Bowl XXI with a commercial starring New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms saying the celebratory phrase. Simms was reportedly paid $75,000 for his role in the advertisement. This was considered a groundbreaking concept at the time– producing a commercial involving a current event and airing it hours after its conclusion.

After MVP honors this past weekend, Flacco became the newest poster child of the 26th Super Bowl commercial that Disney has aired with the coined phrase. And although he might not have the most “Disney” personality, (even his dad called him boring) he participated in the festivities and paraded down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom on Monday.

In light of this, here are a few things Mr. Flacco undoubtedly wishes he would have known for his tenure in the happiest place on earth:

1. Stay on the float, or car.  Two areas of concern here, and if you’ve been to Disney you know what I’m getting at. (1) The massive crowds. (2) The scooters– they’re everywhere and seem to constantly be in attack mode. Some people really need them for enjoyment of the parks, don’t get me wrong, but some people, well, just don’t want to walk that much, which can somewhat be understood. Flacco just thought he had it rough avoiding the 49ers rush on Sunday. Now this day would have been much more suitable for the speedy Colin Kaepernick had the job description been to mix and mingle among the masses. However, a float, or nice car, is provided to sit on, so use it to your advantage.

2. Bring a handkerchief for “wishes.” This is the amazing and touching fireworks show at night at the Magic Kingdom over Cinderella’s castle. I know you’re as cool as they come Mr. Flacco, but Ray Lewis’ tears could be contagious. Better safe than sorry.

3. Be on the lookout for any wayward Mickey Mouse hands. They could belong to an innocent child, Anquan Boldin going for your MVP trophy, or Ray Lewis seeking your spotlight. Keep your head on a swivel.

4(a). Don’t shy away from the light up toys. You can’t miss the vendors. They’re sold all up and down Main Street as soon as dusk hits. Never know when they could come in handy.

4(b). Ride Space Mountain as much as possible. It’ll help your eyes get adjusted to darkness just in case.

5. Bring teammate Jimmy Smith along for the ride on the car. He would be ideal for holding your trophy, holding your phone, or maybe even holding some popcorn during your cruise. I’m not really sure why, but I heard he’s good at holding things.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

————

By: Philip Matthews

Top 5 Super Bowl Commercials

Tyler Raborn —  Monday, February 4, 2013 — 12 Comments

Here’s my top 5 Super Bowl commercials…

5. Mercedes-Benz, “Soul”

4. Tide, “Miracle Stain”

3. Budweiser, “Brotherhood”

2. NFL, “Leon Sandcastle”

1. Dodge Ram, “Farmer”

Top 10 Tweets: Super Bowl Edition

Tyler Raborn —  Monday, February 4, 2013 — 5 Comments

Here’s my top 10 tweets of the night from the Super Bowl, in chronological order:

Anytime a major news source shows a personality, you’ve got to appreciate it… especially when they poke fun at Roger Goodell:

IMG_1054

Halftime begins; men go to the restroom and cooler, while women giddily gather around the television:

IMG_1051

For the millions who googled “members of Destiny’s Child,” here’s what you were really thinking:

IMG_1052

The blackout begins:

IMG_1039

America got a chance to witness New Orleans’ distaste for Entergy firsthand:

IMG_1050

Oreo winning the “real-time” advertising game:

Oreo

You knew it was coming, a Katrina joke:

IMG_1040

…and another:

IMG_1049

Larry Fitzgerald explains why Joe Flacco has been willing to heave the ball up into any type of coverage this postseason:

Larry Fitzgerald

And finally, we now have proof that Les does know how to read a game clock:

IMG_1053

Hypothetical: If you had been given the opportunity to start an NFL expansion team before the 2012 season, how would you allocate your $120.8 million salary cap to your new roster? Would you use $13.25 million (nearly 12%) on a wide receiver, like the Cardinals? Or $19.035 million (over 15%) on a defensive end, like the Colts?

Strategically structuring contracts to maximize the talent on NFL rosters is an art in itself. Each owner, general manager, and coach have their own opinions on how money should be spent. Yet, most teams seemingly agree that the quarterback position should have the most money per player allocated to it.

Yet, how do you evaluate the success of an investment in a quarterback?

You evaluate quarterbacks relative to their peers, and you pay them according to that success relative to their peers.

The quarterback is the most highly valued position in the game, and thus, quarterbacks are paid on average more than any other position in the league. Fortunately, due to the NFL’s salary cap rules, teams may sign players with a signing bonus that may be prorated across the life of the contract. Thus, the amount of money allocated to the salary cap is not always the amount of money a player was actually paid that year. This allows teams to offer players a large sum of money up front without the salary cap taking a “hit” for the signing bonus in its entirety. For example, in July of 2012, Drew Brees signed a 5-year contract worth $100 million with a $37 million signing bonus. Here is what Brees is scheduled to actually receive each year under this contract:

Year

Base Salary

Signing Bonus

Workout Bonus

Total

2012  $3,000,000 $37,000,000  $0 $40,000,000
2013  $9,750,000 $0  $250,000 $10,000,000
2014  $10,750,000 $0  $250,000 $11,000,000
2015 $18,750,000 $0  $250,000 $19,000,000
2016 $19,750,000 $0  $250,000 $20,000,000

But, since the Saints may prorate the signing bonus across the life of the contract, here’s the actual “hit” the Saints’ salary cap is taking from Brees’ contract:

Year

Base Salary

Signing Bonus

Workout Bonus

Cap Hit

2012  $3,000,000  $7,400,000  $0  $10,400,000
2013  $9,750,000  $7,400,000  $250,000  $17,400,000
2014  $10,750,000  $7,400,000  $250,000  $18,400,000
2015  $18,750,000  $7,400,000  $250,000  $26,400,000
2016  $19,750,000  $7,400,000  $250,000  $27,400,000

This mechanism allows teams to maneuver contracts and “even” out the Cap Hit to fit the salary cap. The 2012 NFL salary cap was $120.6 million. Thus, the Saints had $110.2 million to allocate to the rest of the team for this past season. Keep in mind that if the Saints were forced to use the amount they actually paid Brees in 2012, it would remove $40 million from the team’s 2012 salary cap instead of $10 million.

The reason the Cap Hit is more important in this analysis than (1) the amount a player was actually paid or (2) the average salary they will be paid over the course of a contract is that the Cap Hit is specifically representative of the cap room a player is taking up in a given year. Thus, it informs us as to the amount of money that is available to allocate to other players on a specific team.

So, now that we’re all salary cap experts, let’s talk about a valuation process for the most pivotal position on the field: the kicke… quarterback. The Quarterback.

There is no exact method in determining a quarterback’s performance over the course of a year. In 1971 the NFL came up with the “Passer Rating,” which rated quarterbacks on a scale of 0 to 158.3. The formula for this rating was:

Passer Rating = [ (4.16667 x [ ( 20 x Completions ) + Yards + ( 80 x Touchdowns ) - ( 100 x Interceptions ) ] ) / Attempts ] + 2.083

This rating system contained some major flaws. To illustrate these flaws, here’s 3 examples:

1. Quarterback A throws 10 passes. He completes 5 of the passes for a total of 100 yards with 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

A's Passer Rating = [ (4.16667 x [ ( 20 x 5 ) + 100 + ( 80 x 0 ) - ( 100 x 0 ) ] ) / 10 ] + 2.083

A's Passer Rating = 85.4 (Rounded to the nearest tenth)

2. Quarterback B throws 10 passes. He completes all 10 of the passes for a total of 50 yards with 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

B's Passer Rating = [ (4.16667 x [ ( 20 x 10 ) + 50 + ( 80 x 0 ) - ( 100 x 0 ) ] ) / 10 ] + 2.083

B's Passer Rating = 87.5 (Rounded to the nearest tenth)

3. Quarterback C throws 10 passes. He completes 8 of the passes for 90 yards with 1 touchdown scored on a 62-yard screen play to the running back and 2 interceptions, which both are returned for touchdowns.

C's Passer Rating = [ (4.16667 x [ ( 20 x 8 ) + 90 + ( 80 x 1 ) - ( 100 x 2 ) ] ) / 10 ] + 2.083

C's Passer Rating = 97.9 (Rounded to the nearest tenth)

At a glance…

QB

Comp.

Att.

Yards

TD

Int.

Rating

A 5 10 100 0 0 85.4
B 10 10 50 0 0 87.5
C 8 10 90 1 2 97.9

As is evident in the examples, this passer rating gives too much weight to completion percentage. It also accounts for specific occurrences that are not attributable to the quarterback, such as an on-target pass that goes through the hands of the receiver and is intercepted or an 80-yard touchdown that was scored on a shovel pass to the running back.

So in an effort to create a more reliable quarterback rating system, ESPN teamed up with AdvancedNFLStats.com and FootballOutsiders.com to create the Total Quarterback Rating (“QBR”). QBR takes into account the “contexts and details of throws” and is scored on a scale of 0 to 100, where the average NFL quarterback would be a 50. While QBR is not perfect, it is a far better representation of a quarterback’s performance than the classic passer rating, so we’ll use it to measure quarterback performance.

Here are the 36 quarterbacks that played enough during the 2012 NFL season to qualify for ESPN’s QBR, along with their respective cap hits:

PLAYER

QBR

Cap Hit

Peyton Manning 84.1  $18,000,000
Tom Brady 77.1  $8,000,000
Colin Kaepernick 76.8  $1,164,610
Matt Ryan 74.5  $12,990,000
Aaron Rodgers 72.5  $9,000,000
Robert Griffin III 71.4  $3,839,836
Alex Smith 70.1  $9,500,000
Russell Wilson 69.6  $544,850
Drew Brees 67.9  $10,400,000
Eli Manning 67.4  $9,600,000
Andrew Luck 65.0  $4,015,000
Ben Roethlisberger 62.8  $9,895,000
Tony Romo 62.7  $8,469,000
Matt Schaub 62.6  $11,700,000
Matthew Stafford 58.9  $9,842,083
Cam Newton 54.2  $5,005,659
Christian Ponder 53.8  $2,308,795
Josh Freeman 53.1  $7,915,000
Ryan Tannehill 52.3  $2,302,500
Jay Cutler 51.9  $9,600,000
Sam Bradford 51.6  $15,595,000
Andy Dalton 50.7  $1,185,045
Matt Hasselbeck 48.5  $7,500,000
Jake Locker 48.1  $2,860,455
Joe Flacco 46.8  $8,000,000
Michael Vick 46.0  $13,900,000
Ryan Fitzpatrick 45.8  $6,000,000
Nick Foles 45.3  $525,812
Carson Palmer 44.7  $4,716,667
Blaine Gabbert 40.9  $2,727,647
Philip Rivers 40.6  $15,310,000
Matt Cassel 36.5  $7,575,000
Chad Henne 29.9  $2,600,000
Brady Quinn 27.4  $1,500,000
Brandon Weeden 26.6  $1,469,500
Mark Sanchez 23.4  $7,853,125

Logically, the best quarterback in the league is worth the most money, so a team should be willing to allocate the highest percentage of their salary cap to the best quarterback. Along the same logic, in a perfect world the second best quarterback should have received the second highest salary (or respective cap hit). But it’s not a perfect world, so in order to illustrate this relationship, I ranked 2012’s highest QBRs and Cap Hits from 1 to 36:

Rank

QBR

Cap Hit

1 84.1  $18,000,000
2 77.1  $15,595,000
3 76.8  $15,310,000
4 74.5  $13,900,000
5 72.5  $12,990,000
6 71.4  $11,700,000
7 70.1  $10,400,000
8 69.6  $9,895,000
9 67.9  $9,842,083
10 67.4  $9,600,000
11 65.0  $9,600,000
12 62.8  $9,500,000
13 62.7  $9,000,000
14 62.6  $8,469,000
15 58.9  $8,000,000
16 54.2  $8,000,000
17 53.8  $7,915,000
18 53.1  $7,853,125
19 52.3  $7,575,000
20 51.9  $7,500,000
21 51.6  $6,000,000
22 50.7  $5,005,659
23 48.5  $4,716,667
24 48.1  $4,015,000
25 46.8  $3,839,836
26 46.0  $2,860,455
27 45.8  $2,727,647
28 45.3  $2,600,000
29 44.7  $2,308,795
30 40.9  $2,302,500
31 40.6  $1,500,000
32 36.5  $1,469,500
33 29.9  $1,185,045
34 27.4  $1,164,610
35 26.6  $544,850
36 23.4  $525,812

Using the table above, I created a scatter plot, with the X-axis representing QBR and the Y-axis representing the Cap Hit. Once all of the points were on the chart, I had excel create a “trend line” to represent the average relationship between Salary Cap Hit and QBR. Interestingly, an exponential relationship exists between Cap Hit and QBR. This is due to teams’ willingness to pay exponentially more money for the more elite quarterbacks. The trend line can be seen in the scatter-plot chart below:

Salary Cap Hit and QBR Relationship

As you can see, the trend line’s formula in the chart is:

y = 3,214.6(x)2 - 51,907x - 419,885

To demonstrate the applicability of this formula, here’s an example:

In 2012 Jake Locker had a QBR of 48.1. Since QBR is the X-axis of the chart, we’ll plug Locker’s QBR into the formula to determine how large of a salary cap hit his performance warranted:

Salary Cap Hit = (3,214 x (48.1)2) - (51,907 x 48.1) - 419,885

…I hate to ruin the fun as you scramble to find your old TI-83 calculator, but here’s the answer:

Salary Cap Hit = $5,360,489

In other words, relative to other quarterbacks in the NFL, Jake Locker’s performance at quarterback was worth a team taking up to a $5,360,489 cap hit for him, thus I deemed this amount a player’s “Cap Hit Value” for a given year. Here’s the “Cap Hit Value” for all 36 quarterbacks in 2012:

PLAYER

QBR

Cap Hit Value

Peyton Manning 84.1  $18,790,761
Tom Brady 77.1  $15,526,756
Colin Kaepernick 76.8  $15,393,910
Matt Ryan 74.5  $14,394,647
Aaron Rodgers 72.5  $13,553,369
Robert Griffin III 71.4  $13,101,627
Alex Smith 70.1  $12,577,781
Russell Wilson 69.6  $12,379,195
Drew Brees 67.9  $11,716,024
Eli Manning 67.4  $11,524,509
Andrew Luck 65.0  $10,627,615
Ben Roethlisberger 62.8  $9,837,993
Tony Romo 62.7  $9,802,841
Matt Schaub 62.6  $9,767,753
Matthew Stafford 58.9  $8,514,685
Cam Newton 54.2  $7,049,863
Christian Ponder 53.8  $6,931,755
Josh Freeman 53.1  $6,727,542
Ryan Tannehill 52.3  $6,498,012
Jay Cutler 51.9  $6,384,790
Sam Bradford 51.6  $6,300,549
Andy Dalton 50.7  $6,051,297
Matt Hasselbeck 48.5  $5,463,938
Jake Locker 48.1  $5,360,489
Joe Flacco 46.8  $5,031,383
Michael Vick 46.0  $4,834,257
Ryan Fitzpatrick 45.8  $4,785,618
Nick Foles 45.3  $4,665,146
Carson Palmer 44.7  $4,522,702
Blaine Gabbert 40.9  $3,674,304
Philip Rivers 40.6  $3,611,279
Matt Cassel 36.5  $2,807,930
Chad Henne 29.9  $1,741,750
Brady Quinn 27.4  $1,411,026
Brandon Weeden 26.6  $1,313,681
Mark Sanchez 23.4  $965,448

Obviously, some of these quarterbacks were paid much less than their Cap Hit Value, while some were paid much more. I’m going to call the difference between a player’s Cap Hit Value and their actual Cap Hit “Net Value.” While the Cap Hit Value represents the average amount teams paid for a particular QBR, the Net Value represents whether teams actually gained money or lost money on their investment.

For instance, the Seattle Seahawks took a $544,850 Cap Hit for Russell Wilson, yet he played up to the market value of a quarterback worth $12,379,195. Thus, his Net Value for the Seattle Seahawks was $11,834,345. While on average other teams had to pay an additional $11.8 million in 2012 to receive the caliber of play Russell Wilson provided the Seahawks with, Seattle was able to use that $11.8 million elsewhere. In essence, Net Value is simply how overvalued or undervalued a quarterback was in a particular year.

Here’s all 36 quarterbacks in order by their Net Value in 2012:

Player

QBR

Cap Hit

Cap Hit Value

Net Value

Colin Kaepernick* 76.8  $1,164,610  $15,393,910  $14,229,300
Russell Wilson* 69.6  $544,850  $12,379,195  $11,834,345
Robert Griffin III* 71.4  $3,839,836  $13,101,627  $9,261,791
Tom Brady* 77.1  $8,000,000  $15,526,756  $7,526,756
Andrew Luck* 65.0  $4,015,000  $10,627,615  $6,612,615
Andy Dalton* 50.7  $1,185,045  $6,051,297  $4,866,252
Christian Ponder* 53.8  $2,308,795  $6,931,755  $4,622,960
Aaron Rodgers* 72.5  $9,000,000  $13,553,369  $4,553,369
Ryan Tannehill 52.3  $2,302,500  $6,498,012  $4,195,512
Nick Foles 45.3  $525,812  $4,665,146  $4,139,334
Alex Smith 70.1  $9,500,000  $12,577,781  $3,077,781
Jake Locker 48.1  $2,860,455  $5,360,489  $2,500,034
Cam Newton 54.2  $5,005,659  $7,049,863  $2,044,204
Eli Manning 67.4  $9,600,000  $11,524,509  $1,924,509
Matt Ryan* 74.5  $12,990,000  $14,394,647  $1,404,647
Tony Romo 62.7  $8,469,000  $9,802,841  $1,333,841
Drew Brees 67.9  $10,400,000  $11,716,024  $1,316,024
Blaine Gabbert 40.9  $2,727,647  $3,674,304  $946,657
Peyton Manning* 84.1  $18,000,000  $18,790,761  $790,761
Ben Roethlisberger 62.8  $9,895,000  $9,837,993  $(57,007)
Brady Quinn 27.4  $1,500,000  $1,411,026  $(88,974)
Brandon Weeden 26.6  $1,469,500  $1,313,681  $(155,819)
Carson Palmer 44.7  $4,716,667  $4,522,702  $(193,965)
Chad Henne 29.9  $2,600,000  $1,741,750  $(858,250)
Josh Freeman 53.1  $7,915,000  $6,727,542  $(1,187,458)
Ryan Fitzpatrick 45.8  $6,000,000  $4,785,618  $(1,214,382)
Matthew Stafford 58.9  $9,842,083  $8,514,685 $(1,327,398)
Matt Schaub* 62.6  $11,700,000  $9,767,753  $(1,932,247)
Matt Hasselbeck 48.5  $7,500,000  $5,463,938  $(2,036,062)
Joe Flacco* 46.8  $8,000,000  $5,031,383  $(2,968,617)
Jay Cutler 51.9  $9,600,000  $6,384,790  $(3,215,210)
Matt Cassel 36.5  $7,575,000  $2,807,930  $(4,767,070)
Mark Sanchez 23.4  $7,853,125  $965,448  $(6,887,677)
Michael Vick 46.0  $13,900,000  $4,834,257  $(9,065,743)
Sam Bradford 51.6  $15,595,000  $6,300,549  $(9,294,451)
Philip Rivers 40.6  $15,310,000  $3,611,279  $(11,698,721)

*Made playoffs as a starting QB (Alex Smith made playoffs, but not as a starting QB)

The most fascinating part of this chart is that every one of the top 8 quarterbacks, with respect to their net value, made the playoffs. This illustrates the principle that teams who effectively evaluate talent and draft or sign quarterbacks (or really any position) for lower than their eventual performance on the field have more money to spend in other areas, and thus, more overall talent on their roster. While this conclusion is a simple generalization, common sense seems to deem it meritorious.

To close quite simply, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Tom Brady, and Andrew Luck gave their teams the most “bang for their buck” in 2012, while Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez, Michael Vick, Sam Bradford, and Philip Rivers played far below their pay grade.

But Philip Rivers, if you’re reading this, don’t despair… in 2010 Jamarcus Russell did not play a down for the Oakland Raiders and was paid $19.92 million for a Net Value of $(19,919,100), all of which was applied to the cap (thankfully for the Raiders, it was an uncapped year). Let’s just hope Jamarcus Russell makes this return he’s talking about, so that I can do this next year, and he can shatter any semblance of a record low that you may currently hold, Philip.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

Ray Lewis: The Man

Philip Matthews —  Wednesday, January 9, 2013 — 2 Comments

He waits.

You can imagine the anticipation gazing through a tunnel of smoke with 71,379 people ready to erupt upon your arrival.

And then it happens.

“13-time Pro-Bowler. Two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Linebacker #52 Ray Lewis.” The P.A. announcer exclaims as Ray Lewis shoots through the haze, accompanied by Nelly’s “Hot in Here,” and performs his renown “squirrel” dance to perfection–even with a torn right triceps.

It was an average game for the legend, as the Ravens defeated the Colts to prolong Ray’s “last ride,” as he put it. But nonetheless, it was an unforgettable day for all those lucky ones in attendance–fans, players, and coaches alike.

Greatest of all time? This is a very weighty phrase that if thrown around lightly can instantly kill the credibility of the one saying or writing it.

It can easily be argued that Ray is the greatest middle linebacker of all time. Along with Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary, there’s no question #52 has a case to be at the top of this list. His numbers and accolades carry a reputation of their own: 13 Pro Bowls, 10-time AP All-Pro, two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl MVP, and easily a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

However, for a second, let’s focus on the growth of Ray Lewis the man, not so much the football player. I believe it can also be argued that over the course of his 17-year NFL career, Ray Lewis has had one of the greatest maturations of all time.

What’s interesting in all of this publicity surrounding the career and last ride of Lewis, and deservedly so, lies the fact that we don’t hear anything about the past. No, we don’t see the images of him in an orange jumpsuit in Georgia before he agreed to a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice after being initially indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges from an Atlanta homicide in 2000. These charges were all acquitted, and the incident seemed to quickly recede, as Ray proclaimed his innocence and eventually won back his reputation via the court of public opinion. We don’t hear about his struggles with women, or his six kids of four different mothers.

No, these images are distantly in the rearview mirror, due in large part to the change that has taken place inside of Ray. A change that has propelled him to vow to be a better example and father figure, as well as mobilized him to take part in countless community-building and charity actions, including one in Ethiopia to help create a sports program for land mine victims.

So just why do we love Ray Lewis? I think some of it is definitely the dominance on the field, the captivating dance, and the exhilarating speeches that could make any red-blooded human ready for war.

All of these certainly make Ray Lewis the fascinating figure he is, but I believe that in addition to these captivating aspects, we love him because we can relate to Ray Lewis off the field. Is he perfect? By no means. But, then again, neither are we. I’m not even saying he is the best role model. But, we live in an imperfect world in dire need of grace from above daily, and I think somewhere along the line of his storied career, Ray has begun to grasp that and live it out.

Unless he’s talking about being blessed and fortunate for the opportunity, his press conferences have shifted from being about #52 to being about his gratitude towards the fans, teammates, coaches, and the organization. Most importantly, he’s shifted his focus towards his family and being the father that he never really had to his sons. He speaks more of God and his goodness than the trials and adversity he’s been through. After the Ravens defeated the Colts in Lewis’ final game in Baltimore, he paraded around the field in a shirt with “Psalms 91” on the front, which points to God being our refuge and fortress in time of need.

And as we eagerly watch this last ride of #52 patrolling the middle of the field this postseason, we’re already rehearsing what we can tell our kids and grandkids about him. We can only hope that Ray Lewis III, who is now starting his career at the University of Miami, makes our memory of his father a bit clearer and continues to learn from his father’s mistakes, as he grows in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

Because we know his father, Ray Lewis, will be there every step of the way.

————

By: Philip Matthews