Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

by Andrew Healy

Imagine if the Bills had traded more than Kiko Alonso to get LeSean McCoy. What if, instead, they had added a late first-round pick to get Chip Kelly to pull the trigger? Bills fans would probably like that trade much less than the real one. Maybe this Eagles fan would feel more positively about Chip Kelly.

Well, if we think about the cap space that they gave up, the Bills actually made that hypothetical trade last week. In terms of the lost opportunity to sign additional players, the Bills gave up the equivalent of the 29th pick in addition to Alonso.

Let's check out some recent trades, with a complete accounting for everything, including cap space. We can measure draft picks and cap space in the same terms by the on-field value that those assets usually create. The unknown is the future performance of the traded players. By accounting for everything else, we can see how well McCoy will need to perform to make the trade a winner for the Bills.

We'll get to Shady, but let's start with the trade that actually should be causing that Eagles' fan to tear his hair out.

Chip Kelly, Ay Caramba

Traded Asset
Marginal AV
Eagles Get
Sam Bradford TBD
2015 Fifth-Round Pick (Est. No. 148) 2.80
Rams Get
Nick Foles TBD
2015 Fourth-Round Pick (Est. No. 119) 4.20
2016 Second-Round Pick (Est. No. 52) 9.40
2015 Cap Space of $11.6 million 9.18

The Eagles-Rams trade, while complicated in some ways, is simple in terms of the cap implications. So I am going to use this as the opportunity to explain the math. You can just skip the next paragraph if you want to jump straight to the results.

To assign a value to cap space, I am building on some excellent work done by Chase Stuart at Football Perspective. Using Pro-Football-Reference's Approximate Value (AV), Stuart defined Marginal AV to be the value that cap dollars provide in terms of better players than the replacement-level types earning the veteran's minimum. For draft picks, Stuart calculated something similar, estimating the value that draft picks provided above replacement rookies in their first five years. Since I wanted to put draft picks and cap space on the same scale, I used replacement rookies as the baseline for both. I calculated Marginal AV for 2015 cap space by extrapolating Stuart's estimates. For draft picks, I utilized the values from Stuart's Draft Pick Calculator. To keep things simple, I did not adjust those values for salary, which would tend to value high picks (whose salaries are further above replacement level) a little too much relative to cap space. I used the current draft pick slots to assign values, estimating three compensatory picks at the end of the third round and eight at the end of the fourth.

Even before accounting for cap space, Sam Bradford would need to far outperform Nick Foles to make this trade an even swap. The exchange of draft picks meant that the Eagles were netting about a loss of a middle-second-round selection. If we do not discount the second-round pick for being in 2016, the Eagles gave up 10.8 points of value relative to a replacement player (Marginal AV), a value about equivalent to the 13th pick of the second round.

But the loss of cap space makes the deal so much worse for the Eagles. They gave up $11.63 million in 2015 space in the deal, the equivalent of 9.2 points in Marginal AV. That loss is about equal in value to the second-round pick they gave up. The value of that pick would be spread out over time while the cap space loss hits entirely this year, but the total pain is about the same. Overall, the Eagles gave up 20.0 points of Marginal AV in draft picks and salary cap space to exchange Foles for Bradford. To put that in perspective, Aaron Rodgers had the highest value of any quarterback last year with a Marginal AV of 19 (using a baseline of two AV as replacement level). Bradford cannot make this trade a winner for the Eagles in 2015. He will be hard-pressed to make up 20 points of value even over five years.

Stars and Scrubs

Traded Asset
Marginal AV
Seahawks Get
Jimmy Graham TBD
2015 Fourth-Round Pick (Est. No. 112) 4.60
Saints Get
Max Unger TBD
2015 First-Round Pick (No. 31) 12.70
2015 Cap Space of $3.5 million 3.71
2016 Cap Space of $4.5 million 4.39

The Jimmy Graham trade gives Seattle the one thing they needed the most: an elite target for Russell Wilson. While it's hard to argue with a move that made Seattle the favorite to win Super Bowl L, the trade brings Seattle one step closer to its day of reckoning with the cap gods. Over the next two years, the Graham trade adds $8 million total to the Seahawks' salary cap. Graham is on the books at $10 million for 2017, too. Since Unger's contract expires after 2016, I looked at just the next two years.

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The cap space that Seattle loses in the next two seasons has a Marginal AV of about 8.1, or about equal to the last pick of the second round. Since that's about where Seattle picks, the right way to think about this trade in terms of value is that Seattle gave up Max Unger's on-field contributions, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick for Jimmy Graham's on-field contributions and the Saints' fourth-round pick.

To make the trade a winner for Seattle, Graham has to provide 16.2 more Marginal AV than Unger. That is not impossible, but it is a pretty tall order. In Graham's best season with the Saints, he provided 13 points of AV. In this trade, Seattle also acquired their seventh player with a cap hit of more than $7 million. With Russell Wilson still needing to be extended, the opportunity cost of acquiring Graham might be the loss of Bobby Wagner or above-replacement-level players in key spots on the roster. Graham fills the Seahawks' on-field need, but he is a poor match for their impending salary cap situation.

Ground and Pound the Cap

Traded Asset
Marginal AV
Bills Get
LeSean McCoy TBD
Eagles Get
Kiko Alonso TBD
2015 Cap Space of $9.5 million 7.72
2016 Cap Space of $6.2 million 5.53

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It was a trade that only analytics guys could love. But, man, was there a lot to love, giving up an expensive player at the sport's most replaceable non-kicking position and getting a good player along with a big pile of cap space. From the Bills' perspective, they managed to give up not only Alonso, but also 13.3 points of Marginal AV, about equal to the 29th pick in the first round of the draft. The Bills have since restructured McCoy's contract, but they have made a bad situation worse by stretching the cap pain out until 2019. I don't think the Bills created value with McCoy's extension. So the simplest thing is to take McCoy's original contract and ignore 2017. Then we can compare McCoy to Alonso and the cap space for just 2015 and 2016.

For this trade to be a winner for the Bills, McCoy needs to generate 13.3 more points of AV than Alonso in the next two years. That's not impossible, but it's also not likely, especially given the surrounding talent in Buffalo. Alonso and a first-round pick is one way of thinking about what the Bills gave up in value for McCoy. Another way is Alonso and an elite center or right tackle to improve their abysmal offensive line.

Comments

123 comments, Last at 19 Mar 2015, 4:08pm

1 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Evaluating trades only on a between-the-line basis ignores business reality. Of the three, I think only the Buffalo trade has outside-the-lines aspects. LeSean McCoy will put buns in seats, make it easier to sell boxes, and have other financial knock-on effects. Of course, RB have a short shelf-life. That is hard to ignore in a smaller market.

2 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Does business success feed back into the quality of the team at all, though? This isn't MLB, where the rich/big-market teams can afford more payroll than their poorer cousins. Even the most laughable NFL franchise in its worst year still has enough gold in the coffers to spend up to the salary cap.

3 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Can we ask ChemicalBurn to upload a youtube video of him reacting to the final terms of the Foles/Bradford trade?

6 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

It just confirms what everybody knew: McCoy trade good, Foles trade bad. It was interesting to see just how exceptionally good one was and just how exceptionally bad the other.

(Plus... Foles is clearly the better QB. There's just stuff this analysis doesn't even account for like Bradford's injury history and Foles' proven ceiling.)

9 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I'd love to see a list of NFL players, in the last 50 years, who have missed 30% (Bradford is at 39%, and that ignores he missed his last year in college due to injury as well) or more of their team's games in their first 5 years, due to injury, and then went on to make more than 30 starts in their careers. If there is more than one or two, I'd be surprised. The closest I can think of is Robert Smith, who missed 29% of his games in his 1st five years, and then had a few great years to close out his career. Just projecting Bradford to get two seasons worth of starts is projecting an extreme outlier, before we even address the likelihood that his play will reach replacement level, to say nothing about getting above average production from him.

Kelly is making qb staffing decisions like a guy who uses lottery ticket purchases for retirement planning.

16 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Randall Cunningham missed 2 out of 3 years, yet came back and started two more years, including his career year.

Carson Palmer has come back from multiple major injuries and is doing it again.

Chad Pennington might be a good comp. He did finally play 2 full seasons, and he was pretty good in one of them.

19 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cunningham only missed 19% of the games his team played in his first 5 years. Almost all that he missed were in his rookie year, and I'm not going to bother to check to see whether any of those were due to injury. He isn't comparable at all. I'm talking about a guy, who after 5 years in, has shown only very marginal durability. Palmer only missed 19%, 3 games his rookie year (probably unrelated to injury), then 12 his 5th year, after the knee injury in the playoffs in year 4, then he only missed 10% of his games in the next 5 years. Not comparable. Pennington didn't become a starter until year 3, and he did miss 29% his games in years 3 through 7. He had 28 more starts in his entire career. If Bradford replicates that, this has been a hideous trade for the Eagles.

24 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

One could argue that, but then one could also argue that a guy who showed the ability to start 88% of his team's games over 3 years has done somehing that Bradford has never demonstrated an ability to do, thus meaning Bradford really isn't comparable at all.

44 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yeah, I brain-farted, and tossed Bradfords last year in college into the calculation. Like I said, I'm open to be persuaded, if somebody can cite some examples. I think Robert Smith comes closest, and I remembered it because I was surprised that it happened. The QBs you mention really aren't comparable, for reasons mentioned.

92 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Didn't Dickey come into the league as a backup with the Oilers?

And we should probably mention Jim Plunkett somewhere. He came into the league as the first overall pick, got beat up on some bad Patriot teams, and eventually found his way to Oakland where he won a couple Super Bowls.

100 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

He actualy was reasonably durable, especially once one factors the very bad teams he was on prior to Oakland, and how qbs were allowed to be pounded back then, although guys didn't have 500-plus attempts like they commonly do now.

98 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

It appears to me that Dickey was a backup in Houston, the first four years in his career, and not injured. In Green Bay, I'm not sure if he was hurt in his first year. He had a horrible broken leg in his 2nd year, and took almost 32 games to get back, and then was a reliabe starter from then out. He may be a decent optimistic injury comp, if we ignore the college history, and if Dickey missed time to injury is first year with the Packers, like Bradford missed 6 games in 2010 due to ankle problems.

Plunkett started every game in his four years with the Patriots, despite getting pounded, then missed 9 games in his fifth year, then missed 2 in his sixth, then started every game in his 7th. He was pretty durable.

115 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Jim McMahon wasn't available for 22 of 73 regular season games (30.1%) in his first 5 years (24 of 78 if you include playoffs), then went on to start 51 more games. Though he's not the best example if you're hopeful about Bradford's future, seeing how he missed at least one-quarter of games every one of those future seasons.

118 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

That's pretty similar to the Robert Smith arc. It's obviously not impossible, but I don't I'd want to give up a 2nd round draft pick, a young, inexpensive qb with some value, and 12 million in cap space to explore the probabilities further.

5 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I worry that this analysis overvalues cap space. Losing teams seemingly have to pay more to get good players, meaning they get less AV per dollar than better teams. This makes me hesitant to use a one size fits all value for cap space when evaluating a deal.

IMO that cap space should be valued more highly by a franchise that is attractive to free agents, than a place like Jacksonville or Oakland, where they have to overpay to get decent players to come there.

edit: It is a good start though, and I can't say I've seen anyone else try to quantify the value of cap space.

30 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Good point that a dollar of cap space might be worth less in a place like Jacksonville. I actually think the analysis, if anything, undervalues cap space relative to draft picks, overall across teams. First-round picks will get paid more than the minimum and I'm not adjusting the value of draft picks to account for that.

82 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Bradford-Foles analysis ignores the fact that both players are in the final year of their contract, and if I understand things correctly, that Bradford has zero guaranteed money from the Eagles. Bradford's actual cap hit will be much lower than the $13m figure being tossed around. And assuming Foles acts rationally and has a decent agent (unlike say Colin Kaepernick with his last extension), he will almost certainly hold out for a long term extension. I would suspect the salary differential (either in terms of one year hit, aav, or guaranteed money) won't be that different by the time the season starts.

102 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

It's the last year of Bradford's contract. All his guaranteed money is paid up. That $13 mill is his base salary. the Eagles are on the hook for all of it.
http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/philadelphia-eagles/sam-bradford/

Furthermore, do you think if Bradford holds it together for this season, he's gonna take a pay cut on his next deal? Especially considering what the Eagles gave up for him. I doubt they just let him walk(although they probably should). This might all be moot because they'll probably extend him before the season but I bet, if so, his extension is worth more than Foles.

111 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

His money is not guaranteed, but this talk of cutting Bradford is absurd. You do not trade your starting QB and a 2nd round pick for a player only to cut him before he plays a down just because he'll cost you a 3rd instead of a 2nd that way. If the Eagles wanted to renegotiate his deal, they should have done that as a condition to the trade. It's way too late for that. The most likely scenario is they play him to find out what they have, and if they like it they'll pay the man accordingly.

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Who, me?

113 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I see. Yes, it's even worse. I'm afraid things are what they appear to be in this case. I suppose the most sadistic scenario for the Eagles is Bradford plays well against all odds, is rewarded with a juicy contract ...then gets injured next year.

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8 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Interesting analysis but could we use a better metric than AV? It's not really clear to me what those numbers are supposed to mean.
What if we used something like marginal cap dollars; if we expect hypothetical QB Fick Noles to produce at a level that would earn him $10M on the open market, while he only has a cap hit of $1.5M, we consider him worth $8.5M of marginal cap dollars. Meanwhile, if QB Bram Sadford is expected to produce at a level that would earn him $10M, while his actual cap hit is $13M, we consider him worth -$3M of marginal cap dollars. We can do the same thing with draft picks, considering the difference between the production of the average player drafted with a certain pick and the value of the rookie contract at that slot.

31 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yes, the AV numbers are a little hard to interpret sometimes. But they're nice, even if only rough, because they compare across positions.

But if you wanted to think of everything in terms of cap dollars, here is the Eagles-Rams trade in those terms:

Eagles get
Bram Sadford TBD
2015 Fifth-rounder $2.9 million

Eagles give up
Fick Noles TBD
2015 Fourth-rounder $4.4 million
2016 Second-rounder $11.9 million
2015 Cap Space $11.6 million

That $2.9 million might seem a bit high, but remember that is the total value of the pick over his contract. These numbers take 2015 salaries into account. If we want to figure out how well Bradford needs to play to make the trade a winner for Philly in the long run, we need to do exactly what you say and find marginal value relative to his next contract.

10 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Not a bad job, but the analysis seems to value all trades and cap situations in a vacuum. The Eagles trade for Bradford and eat cap space, which they had plenty of and therefore was less valuable to them than it was for an average team. Like a chess player sacrificing a knight for a pawn to obtain a winning position, the deal cannot be measured on the absolute value of one piece (3 points) vs. another (1 point), but has to be measured by how the move (or moves) affects the chances to win.

14 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Well, injury risk is a different conversation than what's being done here. Given Chip's heavy use of analytics and his sophisticated understanding of the athlete's abilities and recovery, I'd doubt he's trading on wishful thinking.

17 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Um, when you are proposing to do that which has very rarely been accomplished, if ever, and you don't have any track record of success yourself (have you seen the Eagles qb injury situation since Kelly arrived?), that is the epitome of wishful thinking. Economists are famous for coming up with very elegant analytical models that amount to little more than wishful crap once elegance meets the messy, messy, world.

33 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Go easy on us economists.

But I actually kind of agree.

Also curious to know the chances that Bradford will stay healthy. I think they might be a little higher than you're guessing, but that's only a guess. Maybe I'm too optimistic on these things with Gronk surprisingly playing a full slate last year.

37 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

That's not really true of academic economists at all. Academic Economists labor over the models persistently because there is so much uncertainty.

I think this perception occurs when economists are asked to council politicians. Here, politicians just want easy answers and basically summarize the general gist of the paper without any regards to all the footnotes and careful assumptions.

52 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yes, economists are often very skeptical of their own models. The best models try to provide a simple insight. Then when others take those models and try to use them to understand very complex systems, everything comes crashing down. It happened most clearly in the late 90s with Nobel Prize-winning work at Long-Term Capital Management. If you like this stuff, there's a great book on that incident called "When Genius Failed."

The share of theoretical economists coming out of grad school is pretty small these days. More and more, economists are mainly empirical folks.

54 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yeah, I was a little harsh, and I should have qualified by saying "economists who like to dabble in politics", because those guys are the worst. Ya' can't get any more deliberately devoted to faux-empiricism than the sort of overcredentialed (some of the Swedish Medal Models are really bad) scribbler and yammerer who tries to bamboozle by showing how good they are at math, without ever doing much to answer the question "Why should we think this math is representative of the behavior of human beings?"

56 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Tyler Cowen made that point as well - that traditional theory based economics is a kind of dying art and everyone as you point out, is moving in the direction of empirics. I wonder if that's something you think isn't a good thing.

46 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I think the issue with Bradford, from an observer's perspective, is that he re-tore the same knee. I know that grafting tissue to repair an ACL is a tricky business at the best of times, and one doubts the likelihood of a second repair being as strong/effective as the first. Moreover, even if durability isn't a major issue (for some reason) with the second repair, I would be dubious that arthritis or some similar chronic stiffness/deterioration hasn't/won't set in as a result of the repeat injury. Are there figures on players coming back from repeat ACL injuries on the same knee? I can't imagine those look very auspicious.

Gronkowski has suffered many injuries, but each one has been unique. He's a big guy who moves really fast and takes a lot of punishing hits, sometimes on purpose. He doesn't seem frail so much as just a bit of a physics problem.

49 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Jeremy Maclin has torn his right ACL twice, and he just got $11M a year to play a position that is much more athletically demanding.

Here's a great article about Carson Palmer coming back from his 2nd ACL surgery:

http://espn.go.com/blog/arizona-cardinals/post/_/id/10816/carson-palmer-facing-differnet-recovery-rehab-eight-years-after-first-acl

It also has a list of other players who have had 2 ACL tears:

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer became the 10th NFL player since 2008 to reinjure his knee by tearing the same ACL twice.

Arrelious Benn Eagles, Aug. 8, 2013/Bucs, Dec. 12, 2010
Brian Cushing Texans, Oct. 28, 2013/Oct. 10, 2012
Domenik Hixon Giants, Sept. 23, 2011/July 17, 2010
Jake Long Rams, Oct. 28, 2014/Dec. 25, 2013
Daniel Sepulveda Steelers, Dec. 6, 2010/July 30, 2008
Knowshon Moreno Dolphins, Oct. 14, 2014/Broncos, Nov. 15, 2011
Kyle Williams Chiefs, Nov. 22, 2013/49ers, Nov. 27, 2012
Sam Bradford Rams, Aug. 26, 2014/Oct. 23, 2013
Thomas Davis Panthers, Sept. 19, 2011/Nov. 8, 2010

Since Maclin isn't on the list I am guessing it isn't counting ACL tears that occurred during college.

ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell said success and return-to-activity rates for a second ACL are still high but it may take longer than the typical eight months to get back. She said Palmer may need as much as nine to 12 months to be cleared for everything. Palmer hopes to be back by organized team activities but Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said July 1 may be more realistic -- putting his recovery at less than eight months.

Palmer's road back to the field began Tuesday, when he had surgery to repair the ACL using his patellar tendon. Cole said 75 to 85 percent of team physicians opt to use patellar tendons if they're sturdy enough. In 2006, Palmer's ACL was replaced with a cadaver ligament.

By using a patellar tendon, Palmer will likely face a more strenuous recovery early in the process, Bell said. One significant part of his rehab will be getting his kneecap moving as soon after surgery as possible so he doesn't develop scar tissue and “unusual stiffness” around the kneecap.

“It's a strong graft,” she said. “That will be something that will be different for him because he wasn't concerned with that when he did the other type of graft before. But other than that, it's probably more straightforward for him.”

18 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

The reality is that Bradford is unlikely to play 2015 as a $13M cap hit, in fact I think Bradford's contract situation is one of his positives. The Eagles have lots of options.

Restructure him now, 5 years/$34M, $13M signing bonus, $1M this year plus $5M the next 4 years. You can now trade him and eat the signing bonus, meaning you are now dealing a potential starting QB with a 5yr/$21M contract and no guaranteed money, but wait there's more, if he gets hurt and doesn't play this year, you get a 3rd round pick back too. If Jeff Fisher was telling the truth today that he had a low 1st round offer for Bradford, how much is he worth with after the Eagles use their cap space to essentially eat his 2015 salary ?

Keep him, see how training camp plays out and if he looks good and healthy then sign him to the above deal for yourselves.

If he looks like crap or gets hurt, cut him and save some of the $13M and take the 3rd rounder back from St. Louis and move on. You rolled the dice and lost, it happens.

21 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yes, Chip also said he had a 1st round offer for him. Coaches say a lot of things.

Rolling the dice is better when you don't have to get boxcars to have the roll be considered successful. There is no geting around this. It is a low percentage gamble.

(edit) Also, why would Bradford accept that restructuring? If I understand you, he gets 1 million more this year (more like 500k after taxes in PA and the NFC East), at the cost of greatly limiting his upside if he does get lucky, stays healthy, and plays well.

23 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

If you are Sam Bradford, do you take $13M guaranteed now or risk that something happens and you never get paid to play football again ? I think the Eagles have a lot of leverage. Bradford has 0 guaranteed money right now. If he stays healthy and plays well he would be a free agent at around age 31, so he would still have time to cash in on a big contract. Of course, if he has had a good agent and advisors he's already loaded and he could afford to roll the dice, but I think most people given his past 2 years would strongly consider taking the guaranteed money.

If the plan is to end up converting Bradford into a 1st round pick, I do have to say it seems like an expensive way of doing it.

One other thing, by giving the Rams a QB, he takes them out of the running for Mariota, if MM falls past the Jets, now the Rams aren't a threat at 10. Now if he could just trade Sanchez to Tenn and Kinne to Wash, MM will fall right into the Eagles laps....

43 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I think you are right, overthecap labels his base salary as "guaranteed" but they must be employing the word in a strange way, because nobody else I see says it is. If that's the case, yes, the Eagles have some leverage, but not as much as one might think, if Chip and Fisher aren't lying when they imply that other teams offered a 1st round pick straight up.

45 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

On OTC's pages, if a certain amount of base salary (or roster/workout/other bonuses) is guaranteed it appears in italics under the base salary. Hence "guaranteed" being italicized underneath "base salary" in the heading. So no, none of Bradford's base salary is guaranteed this season, although it is kind of confusing the way it's presented on the player page there with only one year left on the deal and no other years or players to compare to.

48 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I think Bradford's 'value' is a combination of his pedigree(#1 overall pick) and his perceived lack of leverage coming off of 2 missed seasons. Teams would (supposedly) give up a #1 because he is a lottery ticket of sorts, there is still some promise of #1 overall upside, but no commitment of any type. If he were a free agent I don't think teams would be rushing to give him guaranteed money. In other words, if there are other teams that would offer a 1st, I think that just confirms the notion that teams feel Bradford has little leverage, and he is a unique combination of upside with minimal downside.

99 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

It doesn't matter that it's not guaranteed because there's no chance they'll cut him. He's making the 13m this year. Even if he gets injured. So Will does make a fair point. That contract you suggested is horrible for him, absolutely horrible. And he has leverage simply because of what he Eagles paid for him. Again, he knows he has zero chance of being cut.

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Who, me?

101 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yeah, I'd imagine Bradford's agent can play a credible game of chicken here. Yes, Bradford would be risking 13 million (actually more like 8 or 9, since I'd certainly expect Bradford do no worse than Matt Cassell money), but he'd be gaining more control of his environment, and don't forget that he's already banked 65 million dollars; unless he went to the Michael Vick Financial Planning Seminar, that 4-5 million dollar difference after taxes may not be as critical as playing on a team of his choosing.

The Eagles really would be getting clubbed in they cut Bradford, in contrast.

107 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

After the 1st game. Just as importantly in this case, veterans are not subject to waivers if the are cut, unless it takes place after the trade deadline, prior to end of year. If the Eagles cut Bradford, he's a free agent, which is not a horrible situation for him, given that a guy like Cassell can command 5.6 million guaranteed in 2015. The Eagles, in contrast, if they cut Bradford, gave a young qb with some value, and gave up substantial draft value, to get nothing. Short of Bradford just being completely insubordinate or doing something else that gets players suspended, the Eagles are very unlikely to cut Bradford. He doesn't have a lot of reason to re-work his contract. His best case scenario, of he doesn't rework, is that he plays great for 13 million in 2015, then either gets franchised or gets to be qb free agent coming off a great year. His worst case (other than getting injured in the off season) is that he gets cut prior to week 1 (probably sooner rather than later), because he won't rework, and gets to be free agent in a market where Matt Cassell can get 5 million guaranteed. Yeah, he really does hold the cards.

32 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Point taken, but there's value in keeping this simple. The Eagles no longer have that cap space, either. Bradford's salary denies them the ability to sign another elite player.
http://overthecap.com/salary-cap/philadelphia-eagles/

34 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

After the trade they signed DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews so it did not prevent them form signing another elite player. They can also free up more cap money for this year by signing Bradford to a new deal.

I understand the value in keeping it simple, without making some assumptions the article would be impossible to write, but I do think some of what the Eagles were willing to pay for in acquiring Bradford was the flexibility he afforded them.

38 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Look man, that "Jackson's agent clearly leaked the gang rumors!" thing was bizarre but you've gone off the deep end if you think Bradford affords them ANY flexibility that Foles did not.

Also, the idea that they'd want to sign him a new contract is genuinely in the neighborhood of crazy. Of course, Kelly apparently lives in that neighborhood these days, so maybe you're right.

I don't know why you're not content to admit this: the McCoy trade was pretty good and the Foles trade was pretty bad. That seems extremely uncontroversial. The only reason to like the Foles trade is if you think there is a high likelihood Bradford will be extremely good and Foles has proven himself to be terrible. That's a big stretch. But it's what Kelly thinks.

39 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Regarding DJax's agent, I have seen comments today about Jeff Fisher and also Chip Kelly claiming a team offered a 1st for Bradford, and people sniffing you can't trust what a coach says, so we shouldn't believe there was really a 1st round offer. Well, if a coach might choose to try and manipulate the media to his advantage why is it unthinkable that Jackson and his agent did the same. They knew the Eagles were going to deal him. Players would rather be a free agent than traded. Did Andre Johnson work out a trade for himself for the Texans or did he tell them to get lost so they would release him and he would be a free agent ? Do you think if LeSean McCoy got wind that the Eagles didn't want him anymore he would have just waited to be traded. Hell no, he would force the issue and if possible force his release. He would have much preferred to have been a free agent than having to try and squeeze some more cash out of the Bills. DJax was in the same boat, except he knew the trade was coming and could take action. And yes I believe one reason McCoy was blindsided by his trade and one reason it happened so fast(20 minutes according to reports) is because they learned their lesson from DJax. I would think you would like this explanation because basically I'm saying Kelly screwed up and dithered and word leaked out and destroyed DJax's trade value. I think that is a more likely explanation than Chip didn't realize how good/important DJax was. I think he thought he could pull a McCoy type trade, but he didn't do it fast enough and got caught with his pants down.

Why wouldn't they want to sign Bradford to a new contract ? Presumably his new deal would be for less than $13M, and if they are willing to eat the signing bonus it could really increase his trade value, what's more valuable a QB you control for 1 year @ $13M, or a QB you control for 3 or 4 years at say $6M or $7M, with no guaranteed money ? They have leverage with Bradford, he has no guaranteed money right now, and with his injury history he's not going to get much until he plays a full season. The main flaw in my argument is that Bradford has already made $50M or $65M or something so maybe he's willing to roll the dice and doesn't care about guaranteed money, and only cares about upside. But, I think it's hard for most people to turn down a lot of money right now.

I do think they overpaid for Bradford. I also think they were doing that because he was uniquely valuable to what they are trying to do which is get Mariota. There's no guarantee they can do that, and if you don't believe in Foles, and like Bradford better, then what they have done makes sense. Bradford is a more acceptable fallback or plan B in Chip's estimation. They can extend him and keep him, or extend him and flip him in a deal for Mariota, or they can just cut him if trips over his dog tomorrow and breaks his ass in 8 places and save $13M.

In the bigger picture, I tend to be contrarian and you quite frankly have been a turd in the punch bowl, so I have been looking for a bright side. I get it, free agency hasn't gone the way I had hoped either. But it's still 5+ months before the season starts, I think we should wait until then before declaring the offseason a disaster and Kelly an imbecile. That doesn't make me a pollyanna.

42 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I don't think Kelly is an imbecile at all. I think he's an excellent tactician and love his approach to training/sports science.

However, he's amassed a track record of being TERRIBLE at roster management and personnel decisions. I think he was given way too much power on way too much unwarranted faith he could wield it wisely. He doesn't seem to know what he's doing - he would have been better paired with a strong GM and not allowed to make unilateral contract/free agent moves.

I think if someone had given him the strong hand and said "you know what, you can't cut DJax or sign Riley Cooper to a new contract" knowing what we know, the Eagles have one of the best offenses in the league, instead of average. If someone had said "Foles has incredible upside and produced at an unbelievable level - you can't give him away, let alone give up a pick and damage the cap while giving him away" then they'd be in a much better position.

Also, I'm not sure arguing "Kelly got screwed by DJAx so that's why he got humiliated in the Rams deal" is much of a compliment.

And I'm not the turd in the punch-bowl. That's Byron Maxwell.

47 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

A lot of this discussion also really fails to address the players on the field. For one season, Foles was a fantastic player. 35% DVOA is Brady/Manning territory. The second year he crumbled to 2%, which is still good! Now we're talking Cam Newton, Carson Palmer territory. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, but that's a good player who can provide value over replacement and winning chances. Bradford, on the other hand, has shown peak performance at 5.2% with a bottoming out at nearly -25%. Moreover, his measurable weaknesses as a player are the sort that are not easily corrected in a career. He responds very poorly to pressure, locks onto receivers, and throws almost exclusively short passes. I would suggest that he would have to have an Alex Smith like unbelievable resurrection as a player to be considered competent, and that's even without the injury history. And most folks are still pretty down on Alex Smith, perhaps forgetting how putrid he looked before Jim Harbaugh got his hands on him.

57 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

You can explain some of this with Foles having Kelly and Bradford having little help, although those are some big differences. At the least, those numbers suggest that Kelly has an uphill climb to get Bradford to be an upper-tier quarterback. To be worth two second-round picks more than Foles on the field (accounting for the salary difference), Bradford will probably have to be a top-12 QB for multiple years. Kelly's work is even harder with the Eagles now out of cap space and Maclin gone.

63 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Bradford's career doesn't fit the trajectory for a top-flight quarterback, at least as far as I can tell. Who has gone to a team with a top pick, bumbed around for a while with seasons at or significantly below replacement level and then suddenly pulled it all together, irrespective of surrounding talent?

2001 - Vick went to a lousy team. Had a decent year in 2002, injured, poor play, he showed all the inconsistency etc. that characterized his career from the start
2002 - Carr, Harrington, Ramsey. None of these guys ever really showed up in DVOA or standard stats. Years went by, they never became what they were supposed to be.
2003 - Carson Palmer -- looked golden from the start on a mediocre team. Injuries derailed him to an extent, but he's always been a decent starter. Leftwich had issues, never became more than what he appeared to be from the start. Kyle Boller, same story but worse. Grossman looked decent until he saw extended action, and the turnover issues emerged. He certainly never put it all together later.
2004 - Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Roethlisberger and Losman. That was the year. Again, there was a pretty clear trajectory. Roethlisberger and Rivers went to good environments. Manning and Losman not so much, but Manning matured in spite of a poor supporting cast.
2005 - Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith. Smith might be your best comparison for a player who looked terrible for a time and then came around. My sense was that Bradford's offense was supposedly more pro-friendly than Smith's, and I don't think that the dysfunctionality of the 49ers is comparable to what Bradford has experienced in St. Louis.

I could go on, but I just don't see a lot of context for imagining that Bradford is ever going to be more than replacement-level at best. Most NFL players at least show significant flashes if they have the upside. Bradford really hasn't, at least not that I've seen. His finest play is just about at replacement level, and when healthy, he still has had significant downside. I also don't think that Fisher runs a team that has an especially toxic environment for offensive players. He played a role in overseeing the development of McNabb, and oversaw the last late-career resurrection of Kerry Collins. His offenses are not exactly inspired, but I think he's done a better job on that side of the ball as head coach than Rex Ryan has...

In conclusion, I would say that NFL players generally can be less than they appear to be by 2-3 years in, and only rarely do they ever become more than that. It's a brutal sport. Careers are really short. If you've got something to give, usually it's pretty obvious, and if you're not adapting and showing a powerful learning curve, etc. after a few years, it's overwhelmingly likely that you never will.

67 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I don't know where this notion came from that QB's don't get better, or can't improve with experience, that your first 5 years define you.

Drew Brees - of his 5 worst season, 4 came in his first 5 years

Peyton Manning - of his 5 worst seasons, 4 came in his first 5 years. In the following 11 years, his worst year was better than all but 1 of his first 5 years.

Tom Brady - his first 3 years were his worst rated years.

Eli Manning - his first 4 years were his worst until the 2013 debacle

Matt Ryan - his first 3 years are 3 of his 4 worst

Bradford declined some his 2nd year, and then showed improvement in both years 3 and 4. In his last year and a half of play he threw 35 TDs with 17 INTs and a mid 80's QB Rating. That's replacement level ?

Finally, Jeff Fisher had nothing to do with Donovan McNabb. Fisher was the Eagles defensive coordinator under Buddy Ryan and/or Rich Kotite. He left the Eagles in 1990. McNabb was drafted 9 years after Fisher left the Eagles.

70 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Bradford's ANY/A over that time is 5.79 would which have put him between Andy Dalton and Ryan Tannehill, 22nd overall. A QB rating in the mid 80s would be lower than Kyle Orton or Mark Sanchez.

His interception rate is pretty low, but then so is Y/A. TDs thrown is about the most useless measure of a QB in existence.

Regarding your "QBs are worst at the beginning of their careers", no one disputes that. Generally a player only improves so much. So if you go from bad to average, well that's improvement, but it's not exactly worth giving up Nick Foles, a 2nd round pick, and approximately 10 million dollars in salary cap to achieve.

71 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Perhaps Mark Sanchez had a QB rating above 80 last year, but his career rating is 74.4, less than 3 points higher than Geno Smith's career rating. Bradford may not be a great quarterback, but Eagles fans would definitely want him to start over Sanchez. The problem is, he gets hurt so much Sanchez is almost guaranteed to start a sizable portion of the upcoming season.

74 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

The assertion I was responding to was that Bradford was a replacement level QB.

I could go on, but I just don't see a lot of context for imagining that Bradford is ever going to be more than replacement-level at best. Most NFL players at least show significant flashes if they have the upside. Bradford really hasn't, at least not that I've seen.

Using ANY/A+ from Pro Football Reference here are top scores thru age 26 for some of today's QBs:

D. Brees 129
P. Manning 127
M. Vick 110 (although his 5 other season prior to age 26 were < 95)
T. Brady 107
J. Flacco 107
A. Dalton 104
E. Manning 102
S. Bradford 102
A. Smith 98
K. Orton 97
M. Sanchez 96
J. Locker 96
R. Fitzpatrick 76

With the exceptions of Brees and Peyton, most of this era's championship caliber QB's weren't much better than Bradford thru age 26. The main difference between Bradford and the guys right above him on the list with all of the rings is Bradford's ACL.

Finally, Kyle Orton and Mark Sanchez are not replacement level, they are top flight back-up QBs. A replacement level player is someone freely available at a minimum salary, we're talking 3rd string QBs and practice squad guys. The idea that Bradford hasn't given us any evidence to believe he can be more than that is ludicrous.

72 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I meant McNair. It was late when I was posting. Steve McNair grew and eventually flourished on Fisher's teams.

My point wasn't that a player couldn't show improvement in years to come. I said a couple of times in my post that a player almost invariably shows flashes early. You see a raw version of what a player can be. Manning, Brady, Ryan, and Brees were all impressive early in their careers. They became refined over time. I don't think that Bradford showed anything even remotely comparable to any of those guys in his first two seasons or subsequent shorter stretches of play.

You are also conflating something in some of your numbers. Many of these players played through the rules shift, which resulted in a vastly different passing atmosphere. I think Brady in 2003-2004 was a very good player, but he was able to do more in 2007-2011 because pass defenses had to conform to a different atmosphere of rules enforcement.

TDs and Ints and QB rating don't ultimately tell us very much about what a passer is doing. We don't know if those are short TDs or big plays; were there lots of dropped Ints or tip-drill ints, etc. 6.44 yds/attempt tell us something more. In his rookie year, Bradford averaged 5.95 yards per attempt, a full yard less than Andrew Luck did in his rookie year.

I see a guy who can't or doesn't throw the ball down the field, who doesn't feel the pass rush effectively and panics in the pocket, and who doesn't see the field well or properly go through his progressions. Maybe "league average" is a better term for what I see than replacement level. I think Bradford, if he's lucky and stays healthy, could probably aspire to 3-4 seasons with DVOA around 5.0 to -5.0 and DYAR in the range of 300-500. In other words, if we squint hard, we might see Andy Dalton in Philly. I think Andy Dalton is a significant downgrade from Nick Foles.

68 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Going back much further, Steve Young bumbled for a while. Vinny Testaverde was never a "top" QB but he made a couple probowls after bumbling. Rich Gannon. Trent Green couldn't get on the field and then was unluckily hurt with St Louis before being pretty awesome for KC.

73 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I wasn't watching football back at the beginning of Young's career, but those numbers show a raw athlete to me--good running numbers, terrible completion percentage, plenty of big plays intermixed with mistakes. You'd look at that guy and say, okay, he's some sort of project.

Gannon is actually probably a better comparison. Mediocre completion percentage, lots of short throws, plenty of mistakes, until he just exploded in Oakland in his first year there.

Trent Green's numbers suggest a much better player than Bradford. 1998, as his first real year as a starter, was very respectable. Then he didn't play until 2000, where he was sensational. 8.60 yds/att at 60% complete is world-beating stuff. And he went on from there.

I guess Kelly is hoping that he can do for Bradford what Harbaugh did for Smith and Gruden did for Gannon. I think those are very unusual cases, and you don't trade away a 2nd rounder and so much cap space for that kind of long-shot prospect when you've already got a more than serviceable starter on your roster.

77 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

From a durability through 5 year comparison, to what happens in the balance of the career, the best upside is, strangely enough, Kurt Warner. I'd forgotten how frequently he was hurt during his 1st five years as a starter; he missed about 38% of his games due to injury, and then really didn't put two healthy seasons together again until he was 37 and 38, meaning he was pretty beat up from age 31 through age 36,and then closed out with two terrific seasons. Of course, in his entire career, he really only had 2 poor seasons where he had more than 200 attempts, and when he was on, he was nearly as good as it gets.

Warner is outlieriest of outliers, in so many ways, that it seems suspect to try use him as an optimistic projection/comparison. I just have a really tough time saying that a 27 year old guy, who has only been able to get on the field for 54% of his team's games in the previous 6 seasons, and has never really been an upper echelon performer, is somebody worth trading for, giving up a younger qb who has had a season of playing pretty well, substantial draft value, and a bunch of cap space. Who knows? Maybe he'll be great, but it seems to be fighting the odds with a substantial wager, given the value of a 2nd round pick.

78 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

You take Bradford's last 2 seasons and spread out the missed games over his whole career and make it sound like he has only played every other game for his whole career. That's not even remotely true.

There are two distinct phases so far in Bradford's NFL career, the healthy phase where he started 49 of the first 55 games of his career(an 89%) rate, and the current phase where he has missed 23 consecutive games with knee injuries. We certainly don't know if Bradford can return to the level of health he had during his first several years, but his health record until the knee injury was actually pretty good. It's not like he has missed 7 games every year due to concussions and hammys, or twisted ankles and strained shoulders. His injury problems have been traumatic in nature, not chronic. I suspect, but don't know, that traumatic injuries are more random. The really injury prone guy the Eagles picked up is Ryan Mathews.

80 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Look Will, you're engaged in an argument over whether Sam Bradford's career has been notably disrupted by injury or not. It's an argument you can't win because you're essentially arguing with someone over whether the sky is blue or water is wet. Sam Bradford's career is defined by injury, to a point that there's no other reasonable way to categorize it: your two choices are "one of the worst #1 overall busts of all time" or "injury-plagued." It's either one of the other.

The second part of the argument is even more bizarre: that a notable injury history doesn't significantly relate to a player's future performance. This isn't even arguing over "water is wet" this is more like arguing over "water exists."

87 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Nice straw man. I never argued that Bradford hasn't been injured. The argument is not about whether his career has been notably disrupted by injury, of course it has. The argument is that Bradford has had periods of good health punctuated by traumatic/contact injuries, and that those injuries have less predictive value than non-contact injuries. In other words, Bradford's injuries may be more bad luck than anything else. That's the argument.

What's even more bizarre is that you continue to insist that your assertions constitute an argument. What are you claiming that there are no examples of players with significant injury histories who continued to play well ? It's not difficult to find research showing the efficacy of ACL reconstruction, plus the shoulder procedure that Bradford had done. It is true that for a WR or RB or even a mobile QB, an ACL procedure can have a permanent impact on skill, but as Bradford is none of those things why should we assume that his ability would be diminished going forward ?

95 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Look, if it would not be very unusual for someone with Bradford's injury profile at age 27 to go on and have 40 or 50 or more high quality starts, then we should be able to find lots of guys who have done it in the last 50 years. Now, if it has been unusual in previous decades, but it is going to change now, due to better medicine, that's certainly a reasonable theory, and if that had been put forth several posts agp, my reply woud have been, "Maybe. We'll see". I'm not pretending to know anything for a fact. I started by asking a question, and I'm still willing to be persuaded that Bradford's injury history is not predicitive of what is to come, if enough counter-examples can be provided. Plunkett and Dickey were mentioned above. I'll look at them.

81 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yes, and my point is simply that those 3 seasons were contiguous, and that there is some value/meaning in that. It's like a pitcher in baseball who had 3.5 years where he took the ball every 5th day, but that period was bookended by Tommy John surgeries. I would take my chances on that guy, more than a guy who made ~15 starts every year and was on and off the DL with various pulled muscles, etc.

84 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Good article here: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc/Sam-Bradfords-ACLs-Worth-the-Risk.html

His first ACL injury was to his left knee in October 2013. From the video, it looked like it was a contact injury where he was pulled down from behind. It appeared that his foot got caught with a flexion rotation mechanism of injury. He injured the same knee this past August, which also looked like a contact injury from a direct blow to the knee causing hyperextension.

As we know, there are two types of ACL injury mechanisms, contact and non-contact. Contact injuries like Bradford’s are usually more bad luck than pre-disposition. If he tore them running in the open field I would be more concerned about predisposition.

There is a high rate of re-injury or injury to the other knee in patients following ACL reconstruction. NFL players in general show about a 63% return to play after ACL reconstruction. However, quarterbacks showed not only a high rate of return to play but a return to previous levels of performance. That said, we don’t know for sure if other structures were injured in the knee that could affect his return to play. From a research standpoint, the odds are in Bradford’s favor to be back to the player he was prior to his injuries.

My point is that prior to the knee injuries Bradford started 90% of his team's games, and that the knee injuries were more bad luck than a pre-disposition to injury.

86 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Ok, let's look at college. The Sooners played 41 games in his 3 years, Bradford played in 31 of them or 76%. In addition, those 31 were the first 31 games of his college career.

So, in totality, Bradford played 31 straight games at Oklahoma, was injured and missed 10 games. Then he played 49 of 55 games to start his NFL career before blowing out his knee. He played in 80 of 96 games or 83% in 6.5 seasons of college and pro football prior to his knee injuries.

In addition, his recovery from his college injury seems to have been complete. He has not suffered a reinjury.

"I don't think you can call a clavicle fracture and ACL injuries and lump them together and call it injury prone," said orthopedic surgeon Derek Ochiai. "More like bad luck."

89 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

This back and forth over semantics is basically missing the big picture. What about Sam Bradford screams upside besides the fact that he was a number 1 overall pick a whopping 5 years ago???

I mean - we don't have any problem burying Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker, and Blaine Gabbert - similar high picks that flamed out.

93 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I'm not sure what you are arguing.

I get that Philly fans have to take a positive spin on this. Hell, I tried with the Trent Richardson signing. But sometimes, you have to accept things, ex ante, when they look terrible. Bradford MAY(and I do repeat MAY) turn things around, but there has been NO EVIDENCE that he will. I mean, what has Bradford shown to suggest we need to give him some real credence? With Cutler, for ex, he played well for one season. Bradford hasn't even done that.

94 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I'm not going to bother looking all these up, but I picked one at random: Bob Sanders, first six years in the league: 47 games played. Sam Bradford, Senior year and 5 years in the NFL: 50 games played. Looks pretty similar, right? Cased closed, both are injury prone - thanks for agreeing by citing Sanders.

109 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

He also chronic injuries in college - he suffered Bob Sanders-esque "on and off the field" injuries his senior year, so the idea that he's only been unfortunate to be bitten by the traumatic injury bug a couple times isn't even true. He has a history of both chronic and traumatic injuries (as well as you point out: most troubling, he now has a history of chronic traumatic injuries.) Trying to spin the Bradford deal from this angle is simply beyond understanding.

This is how twisted Kelly has Eagles fans: they're arguing Bradford's contract has significant advantages over Foles' and that Bradford doesn't have a deeply troubling injury history.

83 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

There was a certain punky QB who was also frequently injured early in his career and went to have a very long and... well frequently injured career.

Of course, he was also pretty decent whenever he could actually get on the field.

I can't think of any comparisons for player who was both injured a lot and middling when they actually played. Erik Kramer?

15 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

What about situations where cap room is not transferred evenly (i.e. because bonuses accelerate onto the cap)? Seattle is giving up cap space, for instance, making it a worse trade for them, but as I understand it Graham's signing bonus means the Saints were ALSO giving up cap room ($11mm cap hit, replaced by $9mm in accelerated bonuses and $4.5 mm in Unger's salary), which makes it not necessarily the Saints winning the trade as much as both teams being potentially shafted (especially if the players don't perform well or the teams don't draft well).

35 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Great point. But if we think of the signing bonus as a sunk cost (which I think is the right way to do it) and ignore it, the Saints get the same amount of cap relief (Graham's salary) as the Seahawks get pain. The Saints just get the relief more in future years. They end up paying the signing bonus all now, so end up with less cap room in 2015. But the Saints get more salary cap relief than the Seahawks get pain in 2016 and beyond, actually. In those years, the Saints save both Graham's salary and his signing bonus.

36 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Not that it makes a huge difference, but Schefter reported that the Eagles also get either a 3rd or a 4th depending on Bradford's playing time:

"Eagles will surrender 2016 2nd-round pick to Rams in QB trade no matter what. But will get back a conditional 2016 pick from Rams. It will be a 3rd if Bradford does not play at all; and a 4th if he starts less than 50 percent of plays."

50 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Sounds like at least one other NFL exec likes the Bradford move:

http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2015/3/13/8207347/marcus-mariota-best-pro-comparison-sam-bradford-eagles

Last year in one of his regular "Ask 5" segments, where he asks 5 NFL execs the same question, the subject was Marcus Mariota's best pro comparison. He got several of the answers you might expect (Kaepernick, RG3) but the last answer seems extremely relevant right now.

The last NFL exec said the best pro comp for Mariota was Sam Bradford. "He's a more athletic version of Sam Bradford," said the exec.

Jeremiah agreed.

"The quick decision making, quick release, accurate guys that's what Mariota is and that's what Sam Bradford has," he said. "I think he's a much better thrower coming out than Mariota is."

Jeremiah echoed those sentiments at the end of last year writing, "Personally, I thought Bradford was more a accurate passer in college than Mariota."

53 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I don't think Mariota has demonstrarted a lot of accuracy. He may end up being great, but if he doesn't throw considerably better than he did in college, especially once he considers how often he had wide open receivers to throw to in college, which is not going to be the case in the NFL, he is going to be at best a very average qb. Truthfully, I don't think Winston is a great number 1 overall pick, either, but mayb I'm spoiled because Luck was there just recently, and he was the closest thing to a no brainer I've seen in decades.

To be honest, I also could be a bit biased against Bradford as well, because when he was up for the draft, I thought it was really foolish to take a guy I thought to be a real iffy number one overall prospect, at the money number one overalls were getting then, when Suh was there, and it was pretty obvious that it would be a gigantic upset if Suh didn't earn multiple Pro Bowl appearances, given his obvious physical superiority to most people assigned to block him. Back in those days, whiffing on a number one overall meant seeting back your franchise for a half decade, so I just thought teams should draft whomever had the least chance of being a flat-out bust.

55 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

I agree that Mariota's ball placement isn't as good as people think. I realize everyone on this site disagrees with me, but Geno Smith was more accurate than Mariota in college, although he was more streaky.

58 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Yeah, you'd be nuts to say that you were certain Mariota wasn't going to be good, because he's obviusly a terrific athlete, seemingly durable, by all accounts an intelligent and hard working fellow, and is not Tebowesque in throwing. There's a big gap, however, between "good NFL qb" and "Tebowesque passer", and that gap represents the risk of taking Mariota very high. Given the panicked quest for qbs the NFL is now, however, no doubt somebody will do so.

59 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

To add on, as a point of comparison, I thought Russell Wilson threw the ball much better in college than Mariota did. Of course, by the time the draft came, I somewhat stupidly listened to the experts saying he should drop into a later round due to his height, but by November of his year at Wisconsin, I was saying that the guy warranted a 1st round pick, because he had everything you were looking for, absent those three or four inches in height.

61 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Geno did better at the end of his senior year than people remember. He had one incompletion (it was an interception one of his receivers didn't fight for) in his last regular season game, and the bowl game was not as bad as people thought. Most of the people who think he tanked at the end of his college career were just looking at whether West Virginia won or lost. He did have two poor games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in the middle of the year, but he played fairly well in the rest of their losing streak. Not playing in the Senior Bowl really hurt his chances to be a first round pick.

Mariota is a slightly better prospect because of his athleticism, and his ability to manipulate defenses with his eyes. If you watch Oregon games closely, he is really good at looking off safeties. Whether Mariota can read defenses quickly enough to become a really good NFL quarterback- well, that's the issue here, and I doubt anyone really knows. He is still going to be drafted higher than where Geno was.

62 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Eagles-Rams trade, while complicated in some ways, is simple in terms of the cap implications. So I am going to use this as the opportunity to explain the math. You can just skip the next paragraph if you want to jump straight to the results.

For me, this would have been a much more interesting article (and discussion) if you'd reversed the emphasis. A solid framework for evaluating trades is more valuable than another idea about who "won" this week. Even if it then becomes a look at whether investing marginal dollars/AV points in some positions is more valuable than others, it would be useful looking forward.

96 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

3 economists go duckhunting
first one shoots 6 feet to the left of the duck
second one shoots 6 feet to the right of the duck
third one yells "we got it!"

105 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Andrew, can you use this system to evaluate FA signings vs cap space? What would Suh's AV have to be to justify his salary?

------
Who, me?

119 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

The problem with this type of analysis is that performance doesn't translate linearly to pay. You must pay a ton to get from average to good performance at QB, at least on the open market. In a sense, if Foles is not suited to be a cog in a Super Bowl machine in Kelley's mind, and Bradford is, then it could be worth the resources. Also, the fact that the cap room issue is only for this year is worth a discount given they have room this year.

I do think the price was too high, mainly because of Bradford's injury history. He's had three season ending injuries in 7. That's pretty bad no matter how you slice it.

But it's devoting so much cap space at the fungible RB position that is Kelley's most dubious strategy IMO. To top it off his top two assets are injury prone and already at their primes and one of them had way too many carries last year. Besides that it's a deep position in the draft. I can't think of one positive aspect to the Matthews signing, and Murray is questionable at best.

120 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

See - I disagree in terms of Mathews vs, Murray. Mathews is much, much cheaper and has almost identical upside (and downside, re: injury.) If you're taking a bet on an injury-prone RB, don't take the more expensive one who fumbles constantly. A backfield of Mathews, Sproles and Polk is totally fine and if all play to upside, quite excellent. It's tough to see how Murray/Sproles/Polk backfield could be effective enough to warrant the massive difference in price between the two options.

But devoting so much money RB is just idiotic.

As for the Foles vs. Bradford issue, again, it's not just a matter of performance, it's a matter of exactly all the resources you burned - and as this article lays out quite clearly: they burned a HUGE amount in order to get a guy who isn't clearly an upgrade. (Less kind observers would say it's pretty obviously a massive downgrade.) Even if you think Sam Bradford is perfect for your magic "system," he's still worth far less an asset than you gave up for him. A smart GM will get him for far cheaper. It'd be like saying "Shane Vareen is perfect for our system" and then paying him Adrian Peterson money. Just plain ol' dumb.

You can't build successful team doing what they did in the Bradford trade, the resources they sacrificed are simply too valuable. The RB situation compounds the mistake - if you messed up on either, the team is now dead in the water. And there's MASSIVE risk (specifically injury risk, but also significant performance risk) in both moves. I was going to say "they didn't exactly bring in Andrew Luck and Marshawn Lynch here" but that's not right, the QB half of the comparison isn't right. No QB would be "right" - you simply can't find a QB good enough to be worth the money/picks/player-given-up to justify this trade. They simply aren't allowed by their team onto market.

And Sam Bradford is certainly not one of them.

God, Kelly sucks as a GM.

122 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

The other thing that gets me about Kelly signing both of them, is that the Eagles face the AFC East this year. So they're staring down the run defenses of the Bills, Jets and now the Dolphins with Suh, and he decides to downgrade at QB, sign two injury prone star running backs, and lets his only star receiver leave. Also, the idea of trading Mathis when you're facing Kyle Williams and Dareus, Wilkerson and Richardson, and now Suh is just stupid. Most intelligent teams prepare for the teams they're facing in the coming season; the Pats noticed all the star quarterbacks they were facing in 2014, and signed Revis and Browner.

123 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

They also might have noticed they face the NFC South and said "eh, it doesn't matter who we put out there, it'll be fine."

I agree somewhat with your premise, not necessarily that smart teams build according to a single year's schedule, but certainly the Eagles built a horrible team for who they're facing in 2015. I also think facing McCoy in Buffalo (and Rex, who really seems to get his team up for these in those kinda games) makes what could have been an easy W into a game where they could just get crushed. If it ends up being in Buffalo, forget it.

I also think the Jets game is now a terrible match-up for them in so many ways (and another revenge game? Todd Bowles, anyone? Eh, maybe not.) that there's really no team in the entire AFC East I expect them to beat. That d-line will terrorize the weak guard position and Revis will be more than able to shut down whoever ends up being their #1 wr (Jordan Matthews or a rookie wr to be named.) Heck, Cromartie would be able to shut down Matthews, leaving Revis time to make a sandwich or take a nap while covering Riley Cooper or Josh Huff.

Looking ahead to a schedule and marking wins/losses in a fool's game, though, especially this far out from the season. But even still, I don't think the Eagles running game is going to be particularly strong in general - it sure wasn't in 2014 - and if the situation at the guard spots plays out how it seems like it will, straight-forward runners like Murray and Mathews are going to be pretty close to useless.

(I will admit that if you start considering this roster in terms of opponents, it just becomes a process of saying to yourself over and over "Well, they'll definitely be able to shut down Bradford/Matthews without much trouble and stack the box against the 3 yards and a cloud of dust runners. The Eagles will have to rely on Huff/Cooper/Ertz to win... so they won't be winning." Plus you look at it and it's like "Yeah, sure we improved at CB. Absolutely. I'm sure Byron Maxwell will be able to handle Dez Bryant much better than Cary Williams. He'll probably shut him right down. Odell Beckham and DeSean, too." It's just so clearly stupid what they've done to this roster. Everybody seems to be willing to overlook that whatever Murray is as a player, he benefitted from an elusive QB and WR who commanded double-teams. If you stacked the box against him... well, the Eagles did just that in the rematch. There's no Dez and Romo to be found on this roster if opponents key in on him this year.)

I keep waiting for another shoe to drop, but this is among the worst corps ever assembled. It's worse than last year's Carolina unit. Which only happened because Carolina was caught in cap hell - the Eagles had loads of cap space and this is what they're going with?

121 Re: Trade Cost-Benefit Analysis

Although I'm not convinced your #'s are spot-on, I'm interested in the concept.

Have you run this through any optimization program toolkits/solvers over an expected time window of 4-5 years? (As in, what are the outcomes for these teams - now - after the trade(s). Of course, there are assumptions one would have to throw in there, but it still might be fun.

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The standard is the standard!