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Value Pricing the NFL Running Back- Updated Pricing
New York Jets Salary Cap Page

Value Pricing the NFL Running Back- Updated Pricing

With Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars seemingly prepared to hold out in hopes of a new contract I wanted to go back and revisit my old RB valuation article and see what price he and some others should receive. There is clearly a battle line being drawn between the RB's and the league. Runners have a short shelf life and everyone knows it. The days of the Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson deals are more or less long gone but with the players union foolishly giving in to this new franchise tag formula they have made it even easier for teams to avoid contracts with these players. Under the old tag system the RB position grew a total of 16% over a 4 year period and was last used at a figure of $9.566 million. Under the new system the figure is only $7.7 million, a huge loss, with no gains expected in the coming years.

Jones-Drew is not the first player to be upset by his contract status. Both Ray Rice and Matt Forte are resisting the franchise tag and last years holdout of Chris Johnson and the demand for a new deal by Frank Gore were more examples of runners realizing the poor situation that they are in relative to their peers. The recent exceptions would be Arian Foster who signed a $43 million dollar deal this past season and Adrian Peterson, who signed once the framework of the new market was set by Johnson. So the question is what are the runners actually worth?

Going back to my old article I have two sets to look at. One is last seasons veteran players who were no longer on their rookie contracts. The second set would include both veterans and rookies together. I think they can be used to tell different things. By looking at the veteran only set I think we can come up with a solid estimate as to the value of a specific player to a team that is in desperate need of a running back. For example the Ravens are pretty dependent on Rice and he holds tremendous value for them. Their alternative option of drafting a rookie brings a high degree of uncertainty so its not feasible for them to consider it an option. This is the upper most price a team should probably pay for that type of player, though certain players will make more until the market fully corrects itself.

The full set gives an overview of the entire market and gives you what I would call an "indifference price". This is the maximum value you should pay for a player that you might like but don't think is a necessity for the team. You aren't sure how well that player will fit in with your offense, how they will play off a big contract, plus you know they will not produce the next three years as they did the prior three years based on analysis of the position. In this case the drafted rookie or other complementary back signing becomes more important. I would consider Forte that type of player since the Bears have other options in both the passing and running game that they did not have last season. The Bears are probably indifferent to the return of Forte at a high figure or drafting a running back and keeping their fingers crossed that they play well.

So how did I calculate the salaries? First I looked at the scores, as calculated in the original article on runners performance, and determined how much above or below the average score the individual player graded. The index is based on score above average and score above veteran average. That would be his index. This score was used to adjust the average salary up or down to come up with his indifference price and maximum price. Using Jones-Drew as the example he was 1.128 times more productive that the average running back last year and 1.217 times as productive as just veteran backs based on the metrics. The average of the total salary pool was $2.803 million and that of the total veteran salary pool was $3.716 million. Simply multiply the numbers to come up with his prices relative to the market, which are $5.97 and $8.24 million respectively.

Jones-Drew is set to earn about $5 million each of the next two seasons on a contract that averages about $7.6 million a year. You could probably make the argument he deserves a small raise because he is so important to the Jaguars, but Jacksonville looks to be a bad team and the indifference price is only $5.97 million a season, which is close to what he earns now. When you consider how much he earned early in the contract he probably won't get more than a token extension like Gore received last year from San Francisco. At 27 years old this is probably his last opportunity for any contract so its understandable why he may have chosen to do this. Foster's recent deal is going to make him slightly overpaid at the position, but the Texans see him as an important player to the team and paid him accordingly, especially in light of the terrible contract given to DeAngelo Williams by the Panthers. One thing with these type of charts is while they can provide a guideline for a salary scale there is nothing that can account for a Williams type contract. Once that hits the market it kind of becomes a firm number for a high caliber player like Foster.

Rice should be worth slightly less than Foster, but similarly will exceed the prices here due to Foster's and Williams' contracts. The franchise tag number is very fair for both sides if just taken as a 1 year deal with no threat of injury, but clearly that threat is real for Rice. Rice is 25 and might still score a deal next season if healthy. At the very least he needs the Ravens to agree to not franchise him again. Forte was never in the class of these players and I see him being close to that indifference market price, which is way less than he will make on the tag. He never should have turned the Bears down earlier this year Peyton Hillis settled for just under his indifference cost, which should be a nice value pickup for the Chiefs. Fred Jackson has been promised a new deal by the Bills and looks to be set to make around $5 million a year. It will be interesting since he is 31 but has been ultra productive. If I had to guess it will probably be a 2-3 year contract that rewards him for still playing well. The Jets Shonn Greene, if he has a similar 2012 season as he did in 2011 will be around that $3 million mark to keep on the team.

Unlike other positions I think if I updated this every season there will be limited growth in the average salary and once certain players are let go, notably Johnson and Williams, it may decline a lot. It's a tough position to play and an even tougher one to be paid at. The union really needed to fight more for these guys but pretty much sacrificed them to get a deal done last year.

Name Total
 Maurice Jones-Drew  101.3 112.8% 121.7% $5,965,448 $8,239,885
 Arian Foster  98.1 106.0% 114.7% $5,775,474 $7,977,481
 Ray Rice  95.2 99.8% 108.2% $5,602,581 $7,738,669
 Jamaal Charles 94.3 98.0% 106.3% $5,550,572 $7,666,830
 Adrian Peterson  84.4 77.2% 84.6% $4,966,818 $6,860,509
 LeSean McCoy  81.4 71.0% 78.2% $4,794,808 $6,622,918
 Fred Jackson  80.3 68.6% 75.7% $4,725,836 $6,527,648
 Matt Forte  76.1 59.8% 66.5% $4,480,733 $6,189,095
 Ahmad Bradshaw  74.0 55.3% 61.9% $4,354,996 $6,015,418
 Pierre Thomas  72.8 53.0% 59.4% $4,287,909 $5,922,754
 Darren Sproles  72.0 51.2% 57.5% $4,238,250 $5,854,161
 Michael Bush  65.8 38.1% 43.9% $3,871,873 $5,348,096
 Jonathan Stewart  65.5 37.5% 43.3% $3,856,082 $5,326,284
 Rashard Mendenhall  64.5 35.4% 41.1% $3,795,361 $5,242,413
 Michael Turner  64.1 34.7% 40.3% $3,775,192 $5,214,554
 Danny Woodhead  62.7 31.7% 37.3% $3,693,376 $5,101,544
 Steven Jackson  61.3 28.7% 34.2% $3,609,420 $4,985,578
 BenJarvus Green-Ellis  61.1 28.4% 33.7% $3,598,321 $4,970,248
 Ryan Mathews  60.1 26.2% 31.5% $3,537,241 $4,885,880
 Darren McFadden  59.5 24.9% 30.1% $3,500,898 $4,835,680
 Peyton Hillis  57.8 21.3% 26.4% $3,400,875 $4,697,522
 Felix Jones  56.5 18.7% 23.7% $3,329,115 $4,598,401
 Chris Johnson  55.8 17.1% 22.0% $3,282,558 $4,534,094
 Frank Gore  52.3 9.9% 14.5% $3,080,599 $4,255,134
 Mike Tolbert  48.4 1.7% 6.0% $2,851,361 $3,938,496
 Shonn Greene  48.3 1.5% 5.7% $2,844,961 $3,929,655
 Ryan Grant  48.3 1.5% 5.7% $2,844,152 $3,928,538
 Cedric Benson  47.3 -0.7% 3.5% $2,783,706 $3,845,045
 LeGarrette Blount  47.0 -1.4% 2.8% $2,765,604 $3,820,041
 Marshawn Lynch  46.6 -2.0% 2.1% $2,746,160 $3,793,184
 DeAngelo Williams  46.6 -2.2% 1.9% $2,742,106 $3,787,585
 Isaac Redman  45.7 -4.0% 0.0% $2,690,815 $3,716,738
 Christopher Ivory  45.2 -5.1% -1.1% $2,661,659 $3,676,465
 C.J. Spiller  44.8 -6.0% -2.0% $2,635,839 $3,640,802
 Willis McGahee  43.3 -9.2% -5.4% $2,546,288 $3,517,108
 Toby Gerhart  42.9 -9.9% -6.1% $2,526,144 $3,489,282
 Brandon Jacobs  42.2 -11.3% -7.6% $2,486,427 $3,434,423
 Reggie Bush  39.2 -17.7% -14.3% $2,306,972 $3,186,547
 Kevin Smith  37.6 -21.0% -17.7% $2,215,290 $3,059,910
 LaDainian Tomlinson  37.0 -22.4% -19.1% $2,175,596 $3,005,083
 Donald Brown  36.5 -23.4% -20.2% $2,146,159 $2,964,421
 Knowshon Moreno  36.2 -24.1% -20.9% $2,128,993 $2,940,710
 Joseph Addai  35.9 -24.6% -21.5% $2,112,872 $2,918,443
 Maurice Morris  34.5 -27.5% -24.4% $2,033,169 $2,808,353
 Jahvid Best  32.5 -31.8% -29.0% $1,910,974 $2,639,568
 Ricky Williams  31.7 -33.5% -30.7% $1,864,199 $2,574,960
 Justin Forsett 29.5 -38.1% -35.5% $1,734,738 $2,396,139
 Derrick Ward 29.1 -39.0% -36.4% $1,711,351 $2,363,836
 Beanie Wells  28.8 -39.6% -37.0% $1,694,107 $2,340,017
 Jason Snelling  27.6 -42.0% -39.5% $1,627,264 $2,247,689
 Tim Hightower  27.5 -42.2% -39.8% $1,620,263 $2,238,018
 Carnell Williams  27.5 -42.3% -39.8% $1,618,647 $2,235,787
 Ronnie Brown  26.3 -44.7% -42.4% $1,549,753 $2,140,625
 Marion Barber  22.6 -52.5% -50.5% $1,332,344 $1,840,324
 Bernard Scott  22.0 -53.8% -51.9% $1,294,132 $1,787,544
 Thomas Jones  20.9 -56.1% -54.3% $1,229,390 $1,698,118
 Kahlil Bell  20.2 -57.6% -55.8% $1,189,536 $1,643,068
 Leon Washington  19.9 -58.1% -56.4% $1,174,083 $1,621,723
 Ryan Torain  17.4 -63.4% -61.8% $1,027,083 $1,418,678
 Keiland Williams  13.9 -70.8% -69.5% $819,891 $1,132,490
 Jerome Harrison 13.2 -72.4% -71.2% $774,338 $1,069,569
 Chester Taylor  12.7 -73.3% -72.2% $747,487 $1,032,480
 Tashard Choice 6.5 -86.4% -85.9% $380,353 $525,370

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