Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Jul 2005

Cap Cuts vs. Patriots

Lots of websites do a "cap cut all-star team" when they need off-season content, but FOX has done something fun with theirs, comparing the cap cut all-stars to the World Champs position by position and then imagining what a game between the two teams would be like. Two problems: They don't really consider the injury situation with some of the cap cuts like Ty Law and Richie Anderson, and I think the cap cut all-stars would have to make some cap cuts to actually fit under the cap. But I think the writer is pretty accurate on where each team would have an advantage, except he gives too much credit to the cap cut tackles and not enough to the cap cut guards. Dan Neil and Mike Wahle vs. Russ Hochstein and Stephen Neal? That is not a "nail-biter."

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 10 Jul 2005

16 comments, Last at 14 Jul 2005, 10:32am by Starshatterer


by ZasZ (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2005 - 5:21pm

This article lost credibility when it came to comparing DEs. Kevin Carter + Courtney Brown = Richard Seymour + Ty Warren?

I doubt it.

by fyo (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2005 - 7:16pm

I don't think the cap cut all-stars should have to cut players to fit in under the cap. The players were CUT. Our fictitious cap cut all-stars club would be free to sign them to new contracts, without the burden of the previous (usually cap-unfriendly) terms. Players cut for cap reasons usually (and you can take that as a suggestion for a future article) earn less (in cap terms) at their new club.

by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2005 - 7:18pm

Well, when your scale only has Blowout, Nailbiter, and Even on it, some things are going to seem a little out of place.

by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2005 - 7:26pm

Sorry for the double post, but fyo's post wasn't here when I sent mine before.

You're right, players do make less when they get cut. That being said, I wonder if, in the long run, it's better for a player to try to avoid being a cap casualty. I guess the only way that would work would be if a guy decided that he wanted a lower salary in the latter years of his contract, thereby hoping that the team would keep him. Something to think about ...

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2005 - 8:52pm

I think they missed the boat on WRs, too. I mean, yeah, Givens and Branch are underrated. Still, Muhammed absolutely blew every other WR in the league away last season- and this is when he was the only healthy option on his team. Everyone KNEW he was going to get the ball, and they couldn't stop it. As for Mason... well, if you think Givens and Branch are underrated, Mason's been Mr. Underrated WR for 3 or 4 years running now. I don't think either Pat could compare to either FA, and would call it a blowout.

I also agree with Aaron. No way the cap cut tackles are as good as the Pats tackles. No team would let a really good tackle get away from it in the first place. The fact that one of the tackles hasn't even been picked up yet should be a good indication. Also, while Dan Neil is on his last legs as an offensive lineman, he's got enough left and Wahle is so great that I don't think that's a particularly close contest. I think Koppen's good enough to get the "blowout" nod over a guy who is a career depth guy. They really fumbled the whole offensive line call there.

Those quibbles aside, it was nice to see them try a new spin rather than just sticking with the same tired old hat.

I think it's unsurprising that QB, RB, and (in my opinion) Tackle were blowouts. I don't think any team would make a cap casualty out of a truly great QB, RB, or Tackle. Any other position, absolutely, but ask Seattle and St. Louis if they'd ever let a quality tackle go.

by Israel (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2005 - 2:04am

One year of Kris Brown is not the standard by which to judge Heinz Field. Jeff Reed - hardly a big name - is performing more than adequately.

So maybe Doug Brien isn't as bad as his last two kicks, but don't blame the field.

by Pats on the Potomac (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2005 - 12:04pm

First, these are Cap Cuts, so you'd have to compare their massively overinflated salaries to the Pats. There's no way this team could be assembled under their old contracts.
Second, it might help if he used the Patiots starters. He forgot about Tyrone Poole at CB, and I'm not sure he picked the best four linebackers.
Third, Doug Brien wasn't a Cap Cut. He was a scapegoat.
Fourth, this starting Drew Bledsoe and Tyrone Wheatley. Please.
Fifth, it's the All-Star Break, and training camp doesn't open for nearly a month. This is why I post five-part replies to lame Fox Sports articles this week.

by Balaji (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2005 - 1:53pm

Kibbles, #5: "I mean, yeah, Givens and Branch are underrated."

Really? _Super Bowl MVP_ Deion Branch is actually still underrated? In what world is this true?

Obviously "underrated" has been redefined to mean "gets less camera time than Ray Lewis," which effectively makes everybody underrated.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2005 - 2:29pm

Balaji (#8 )--
_Super Bowl MVP_ Deion Branch is actually still underrated? In what world is this true?
The usual one. It's possible to receive an award and still be underrated, because that's close to the only recognition you've had in a pretty good career. Compare the column inches Branch got, even after he won the MVP, with those garnered by the not-nearly-as-effective-but-much-louder Freddie Mitchell.

by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2005 - 3:06pm

The number of words written about a player should not be an indication of his perceived value. It should be the words themselves.

By your accounting:
"Branch is a very good receiver. Fred Mitchell should be checked into a hospital to have part of his ego removed," is an indication that I think Fred is a better receiver, which is clearly absurd.

by Balaji (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2005 - 3:18pm

Starshatterer: "Compare the column inches Branch got, even after he won the MVP, with those garnered by the not-nearly-as-effective-but-much-louder Freddie Mitchell."

This is what I was talking about: "underrated" now seems to mean that a person simply doesn't have as much media coverage, and has nothing to do with their actual talent.

In short: Freddie Mitchell being a loudmouth to the press does not make Branch (and others) underrated. Nobody who actually knows anything about football (and I know you do) would consider Branch "underrated".

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2005 - 3:47pm

It's all context, folks.

Branch is underrated by some people, overrated by others. Same with every player who gets any press at all.

But when talking about lists like this (i.e. off-season nonsense pieces by underworked sportswriters), you have to consider Branch and Givens (and Muhammed and Mason, too) underrated, because they are not given credit for what they do by sportswriters, who prefer to write about head cases.

I can't blame the writers -- it's much easier to write copy about T.O. throwing his quarterback under the bus after a disappointing game than about Muhsin Muhammed, um, *not* throwing *his* QB under the bus in the same circumstance. But the net effect of all the non-press that quieter players get is that they get overlooked. (Probably a more useful word here than "underrated.")

by Johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2005 - 9:31pm

-Balaji great point. The press tend to write about what they think will sell papers. Often they end up writing about subjects their editors think are the hot story. Press coverage in general has little to do with the actual talent a player has or the talent the press think the player has.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 07/13/2005 - 3:13am

It comes down to this. If I asked 10 NFL fans to list the top 10 recieving corps in the NFL, they would have no trouble coming up with the Colts. That's as it should be- they had 3 1,000 yard recievers last season. One of the next teams named would be the Raiders, whom I think are overrated. The Bengals would probably get some love, as well as the Rams. Then people would really start thinking about it, and you'd probably hear a comment like "hmm... I think the Patriots are sort of good..."

This, to me, indicates the Patriots' WRs are underrated. I think, top-to-bottom, they're one of the better units in the league, balancing youth, experience, performance, and depth. Saying that they no longer qualify as underrated because one of them won the SB MVP trophy is like saying they're no longer underrated because one of them won the MNF Horse Trailer PoG award.

If it were a league-wide award, I would agree that he was no longer underrated. As it stands, the SB MVP trophy *HAD* to go to a Patriot or an Eagle. All it meant was that he was the "best" of the 44 players on the field during that single game.

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Thu, 07/14/2005 - 10:21am

Why is Mike Vrabel listed as an ILB?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 07/14/2005 - 10:32am

Why is Mike Vrabel listed as an ILB?
During the recently concluded passing minincamp, Vrabel played ILB. Belichick and Mangini are probably hedging their bets, in case Bruschi can't play and none of the free agent pickups pan out.