Projecting the Value of LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson
Lets first look at Fergusonís record here. He has played for four seasons and started every game since he came into the NFL.
Ferguson was named as an alternate to two Pro Bowls and did receive the starting nod in 2009 due to other players choosing not to attend.
Ferguson has had some bouts of inconsistency at times and there was a thought that the Jets were forced to overpay for G Alan Faneca to cover
for Ferguson's deficienies as a dominant tackle. At the time of a new contract he will either be 26 or 27 years old.
Here are the players that will likely be used as a contractual comparison for Ferguson based on production and age: Jason Peters, Jordan Gross, Bryant McKinnie, and Michael Roos. Each of those players are strict left tackles who all signed contracts under the age of 28. Lets look at the comparable stats and honors at the time of signing:
|Seasons||Games per year||Penalties per game||Holds per game||Sacks per game||Pro Bowls|
So lets try to objectively analyze the stats. Ferguson is durable, but that is not really a unique quality at the position.
Roos had not missed a game prior to his extension and Gross only missed one game in six seasons, while McKinnie
had started every game other than in his rookie season. Peters is the one player who rarely hits 16 games a year. Fergusonís best asset
is his lack of penalties per game, where he ranks best among these players. This is attributed to his lack of false starts as his
holding calls are only better than McKinnie. The reasoning behind that stat is likely shown in the sacks that Ferguson is credited with having allowed.
He is highest on that list on a per game basis. He and McKinnie are nowhere near the level of the other players. When it comes to honors Ferguson is middle of the pack ranking behind Peters and Gross and ahead of Roos.
So where does that place Ferguson in the grand scheme of things? We can already separate the two extremes from the equation. He is better than McKinnie but not at the level of Peters. McKinnieís contract, signed in 2006, averaged just under 7 million per season with a 14 million guarantee, while Peters 2009 deal is worth nearly 13 million a year with a guarantee of over 24 million.
The question becomes where do you slot him among the other two players? Prior to looking at the numbers I would have made the assumption that Ferguson is far better than Gross. Breaking it down he really isnít. Gross was voted to a Pro Bowl and as an All Pro, neither of which Ferguson can claim. Gross is not penalized as much and allows about 50% less sacks per game than Ferguson. Both are durable. Ferguson will be younger and have less games played when he gets his new deal, so there may be more upside to Ferguson, but that would likely be factored into a deal based on reaching some type of incentives. Roos grades out better as well.
Both Roos and Gross received 6 year contracts, so its safe to say that will also be the length of Fergusonís new deal. Roos only received 43 million with a 15 million guarantee, in what is probably going to go down as a bargain for the Titans. Ferguson has more leverage than Roos does in negotiating an extension. Roos was under a 2nd round contract when he signed his new deal in 2008 and he was negotiating before the Jake Long contract really threw the pay scale out of whack for left tackles. Had the Titans not opened negotiations when they did, Roos would have had a new players deals to work with rather than accepting to become the highest paid player at the position not named Pace or Jones. Ferguson has the higher priced rookie deals that indicate the changing market on his side and the fact that, as a first round pick, he makes a huge salary compared to what Roosí pay was at the time of his signing.
The true market setter was when the Dolphins awarded Long a contract that was set to surpass the deal Orlando Pace received in 2005 and set the pay scale for ďbest left tackleĒ in the NFL. Longís contract called for a raise of about 32% in annual value over the Pace deal and slightly over 12% in the virtual guarantee. Long has been a superb pro thus far. He was a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie that ended up as an injury replacement and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his second year. He was a 2nd team All Pro in 2009. Long grades out extremely well and is going to be the market setting contract for some time. Adjusting the McKinnie and Roos deals to reflect the post-Pace market, their deals in 2009 dollars would have been 9.1 and 9.5 million per year respectively. When looked at in that context Gross' deal for 9.4 million makes perfect sense and the Panthers looked at him as slightly less than Roos.
Jason Smith pushed the market about another 8% with his rookie deal signed in 2009, which would jump the values of the three players to 9.8, 10.15, and 10.3M per season, but Iím not sure how much that will hold up in 2010. With the salaries so high I tend to think that nobody is going to surpass the Long numbers unless they can argue that they are a better player than Long and none of the players can really do that right now. Smith's raise could maybe be used to determine the high end of the market.
So in looking at those numbers Fergusonís low end contract value will average around 9.3M per season. If the Smith deal did in fact set the market he will probably be right around 10M per season. So Brick should get somewhere between 56 and 60 million dollars over 6 years from the Jets with a virtual guarantee of about 30 million dollars in the first three years.
Does it pay either side to extend the deal in 2010 rather than in 2011? Itís a risk for both sides. On one hand Fergusonís value has nowhere to go but up provided he does not get injured and the NFL salary structure remains the same in the new CBA. It also allows for another draft to pass and free agency period to occur, with San Diegoís Marcus McNeill being the guy that will likely set Fergusonís value. If a tackle gets drafted in the top two or McNeill makes big dollars the Jets are going to see Ferguson get at least that 10 million per year figure. However, if a new rookie slotting system comes into place and cap limits are lowered the market is going to move backwards rather than forward, putting the Jets in the driver seat and potentially signing him for less than 9 million per season.
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