Dollar Values in the NFL
Are NFL stars like Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson overpaid? How much are they REALLY worth? A fresh look at determining market value in the NFL.
Dollar Values in the NFL
The wonderful thing about being a baseball writer is that every stat I could ever want is online. From Fangraphs to Baseball Reference, every play is easy to find, and, more importantly, is free. However, as a football writer, this is not necessarily the case.
One of my favorite Fangraphs stat is Value, which lists a dollar value for each player, depending on how valuable they are to their team. I have combed the web for such a stat in the NFL, but, unfortunately, no such stat exists. What does this mean? I have to create my own dollar values for NFL players.
Previously, I have discussed Football Win Values (if you missed it, you can read it here). The simplest way to convert wins into dollars is to average the payrolls of all NFL teams, then divide by the amount of games an average team wins (8). Doing this, we learn that 1 win is "worth":
$113,373,181 / 8 = $14,921,647.64
Now, all we have to do to find a player's dollar value is multiply WAR by 14.9 million. Let's call this stat DVAR (Dollar Value above Replacement).
Looking through the DVAR leaders, we notice a startling trend. Quarterbacks make up the top 18 spots on the list, as well as 19 of the top 25. Also, average-to-poor quarterbacks (such as Denver's Kyle Orton, the 12th best QB) "deserved" payments of 19 million dollars. Why is this?
Last year, quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes had WARs of 0.62; for running backs, wide recievers, and tight ends, that number was much lower (0.13, 0.16, and 0.1, respectively). Upon further analysis, this makes sense. Most offenses employ at least 2 backs and 3 wide recievers, as opposed to just one quarterback. Also, quarterbacks are involved in every play, whereas WR, RB, and TE are generally involved in just a few. So how do we adjust our dollar values to account for this?
Thankfully, USA Today records salaries of NFL players, so we know how much the players are actually getting. Therefore, we can set "market value" prices for wins. For example, the average salary for quarterbacks who threw 100 passes last year was about $7 million. These players contributed 0.62 WAR to their teams. Therefore, the market value for 1 QBWAR is:
$6,858,385.83 / 0.62 = $11,017,099.60
We can perform similar adjustments to our stats for running backs, wide recievers, and tight ends. Here are the results:
Tom Brady, $35.67 million
Peyton Manning, $31.82 million
Brady Quinn, -$2.45 million
Matt Stafford, -$8.7 million
Jamarcus Russell, -$12.43 million
Chris Johnson, $9.73 million
Ryan Grant, $7.15 million
Knowshon Moreno, $1.14 million
Darren McFadden, -$2.47 million
Steve Slaton, -$3.26 million
Sidney Rice, $13.39 million
Vincent Jackson, $13.04 million
Santana Moss, $0.03 million
Louis Murphy, -$3.09 million
Eddie Royal, -$4.05 million
Antonio Gates, $10.14 million
Dallas Clark, $7.36 million
Dustin Keller, $0.43 million
Joey Haynos, -$1.5 million
Donald Lee, -$1.64 million
Another fabulous thing we can do with the USA Today data is compare each player's dollar value with their current salary. Here are the leaders, by position, for the 2009 season (all dollar figures in millions):
QB: Highest - Tom Brady, +$27.66
Lowest - Jay Cutler, -$25.69
RB: Ray Rice, +$6.33
Brandon Jacobs, -$11.3
WR: Sidney Rice, +$13.39
Roy Williams, -$12.79
TE: Antonio Gates, +$6.88
Bo Scaife, -$5.26