Part II: The cost of killing the quarterback

The only real consistency is that teams in the NFL will pay a whole bunch of money to end a few plays before the ball leaves the passer's hand. And if they'll pay big money to veterans, you'd better believe that they're also trying to find these guys in the draft.

Return to Part I ...

These players were pulled from the chart above because they played at least half of their seasons under their rookie contracts, which tends to skew the numbers:

Position

Player

Sacks

Compensation

Cost Per Sack

Years Counted

Years in Rookie Contract Counted

DE

Allen, Jared

26

$1,242,500

$47,788

3

3

DE

Geathers, Robert

15

$1,261,000

$84,067

3

3

LB

Wimbley, Kamerion

7.5

$1,371,000

$182,800

1

1

DE

Scott, Darrion

7.5

$1,410,000

$188,000

3

3

DE

Grant, Charles

35

$7,750,000

$221,429

5

5

DE

Smith, Antonio

4

$891,882

$222,971

3

3

DE/LB

Suggs, Terrell

36.5

$8,250,000

$226,027

4

4

DE

Kelsay, Chris

12

$2,785,000

$232,083

4

4

DE

Fisher, Bryce

25.5

$6,212,000

$243,608

6

3

LB

Merriman, Shawne

18.5

$4,618,000

$249,622

2

2

DE

Freeney, Dwight

53.5

$13,585,000

$253,925

5

5

DE

Hali, Tamba

5

$1,365,000

$273,000

1

1

DE

Mathis, Robert

34

$9,636,750

$283,434

4

3

DE

Smith, Will

24.5

$7,035,000

$287,143

3

3

DE

Schobel, Aaron

55

$16,317,725

$296,686

6

3

DE

Brown, Alex

25

$7,772,250

$310,890

5

2

LB

Haggans, Clark

28

$9,013,000

$321,893

6

3

DT

Coleman, Rod

47.5

$16,414,000

$345,558

6

3

DE

Burgess, Derrick

33

$11,633,500

$352,530

6

4

DT

Bernard, Rocky

21.5

$7,679,000

$357,163

5

3

DE

Ekuban, Ebenezer

20

$8,028,000

$401,400

6

3

DE

Edwards, Kalimba

21

$8,825,000

$420,238

5

4

DE

Smith, Justin

40.5

$17,750,000

$438,272

6

6

DE

Green, Brandon

3.5

$1,540,549

$440,157

3

3

DE

Odom, Antwan

4.5

$1,990,510

$442,336

3

3

DE

Umenyiora, Osi

27.5

$12,215,000

$444,182

4

3

DE/LB

Carter, Andre

34

$16,060,000

$472,353

6

5

DE

Ogunleye, Adewale

43.5

$21,353,305

$490,881

6

3

DE

Abraham, John

52

$27,268,500

$524,394

6

4

DE

Hayward, Reggie

30.5

$16,828,000

$551,738

6

3

DE

Vanden Bosch, Kyle

20.5

$11,582,500

$565,000

6

4

DE

Williams, Mario

4.5

$2,900,000

$644,444

1

1

DE

Ellis, Shaun

39.5

$25,947,941

$656,910

6

3

LB

Lawson, Manny

2

$1,315,000

$657,500

1

1

DE

Peppers, Julius

51.5

$34,030,000

$660,777

5

5

DE

Howard, Darren

37.5

$26,387,000

$703,653

6

3

DE

Kampman, Aaron

23.5

$16,935,200

$720,647

5

3

DE

Kearse, Jevon

40

$29,864,000

$746,600

6

3

LB

Ware, Demarcus

14

$10,580,000

$755,714

2

2

DE/DT

Brock, Raheem

18

$14,985,000

$832,500

5

3

DE/LB

Brayton, Tyler

6

$5,170,000

$861,667

4

4

DE

Weaver, Anthony

15.5

$15,620,000

$1,007,742

5

4

DT/DE

Seymour, Richard

29.5

$30,015,000

$1,017,458

6

4

LB

Peterson, Julian

25.5

$27,280,500

$1,069,824

6

3

DE

Udeze, Kenichi

6

$6,717,750

$1,119,625

3

3

DE

Brown, Courtney

14.5

$17,400,000

$1,200,000

6

4

DT

Warren, Gerard

20

$27,373,333

$1,368,667

6

4

DE

Spears, Marcus

2.5

$7,317,500

$2,927,000

2

2

Totals

1162

$579,522,195

 

Average

$498,728

 

Standard Deviation

$464,536

Not surprisingly, these younger players offer a little more bang for the buck, mostly because they simply make less money than the more veteran group. They also show a much greater variation in cost/sack ratio, since they've been mostly paid to this point on the basis of potential rather than production. It's a much greater crapshoot with a young player how his productivity will line up with his pay. For every Jared Allen or Bryce Fisher, there's an Alonzo Jackson (who, if my math is correct, cost infinity dollars for each of his NFL sacks).

It's interesting that some of the more successful draft picks among pass rushers offer some of the least attractive sack/cost ratios. Richard Seymour, Jevon Kearse, Aaron Kampman, and Julian Peterson have all made considerably more money per sack than the average even among the more veteran players. Part of that has to do with these young players tending to have signed the most recent—and most lucrative—contract extensions around the league.

Julius Peppers, though, has earned that kind of money per sack just in his rookie contract as the second overall pick in 2002. That's the problem with drafting that high: even if the player pans out, you're already paying him like a superstar. It's nearly impossible for him to outperform his contract; it's all downside for the drafting organization.

The best values among the young players, other than shots-in-the-dark like Allen, seem to come in the middle of the first round of the draft. Shawne Merriman, Dwight Freeney, Will Smith, Charles Grant, Terrell Suggs: all top pass-rush talents picked no higher than tenth overall, and all have provided great value at their production levels. Maybe that's the secret to value at pass rusher: draft them high… but not too high. There's no greater guarantee that they'll pan out, but if they do at least they provide great bang for the buck.

Many feel that Pittsburgh could use an infusion of premium young pass rush talent. Coincidentally, they could well be picking in the early middle of the first round in the upcoming draft. Without looking at the specific talent likely to be available, this could be an intersection of need and opportunity.


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