RSP Writers Project Update: Basic Salary Structure

What can I say? I like this photo. I also like A.J. Green. Enough to put him on my RSP Writers Project Squad? We'll see. Photo by Tennessee Journalist Wade Rackley.

Author’s Note: We’re at Stage II of our RSP Writers Project, which is creating the basic salary structure to build our teams. staff writer and Bleacher Report Draft Analyst Sigmund Bloom has created the setup we’ll be using. Then we had Chase Stuart of Footballguys, NY Times Fifth Down Blog, and Smart Football fame give it a once over. I’m now revealing the same bones of this structure to you that we sent to our writers so you can get ready to see what it will take to create your own team. If you have any suggestions – feedback, feel free to comment here. I can’t guarantee we’ll incorporate it, but its nice to hear ideas.

Here’s the email I sent the writers….

Good Afternoon:

Sigmund Bloom has created the salary structure we will be using for the Writer’s Project. This email will explain the philosophy behind it. Bloom’s thoughts on the structure are below. After that you’ll see the basic structure broken down by position with approximate player equivalents for each level of player. After looking at this, you can see Chase Stuart’s review of the system after looking at it.

I think this should give you a good feel for what we’re going to do here. Give it a good read over the next couple of weeks. If you have something that really sticks out that you believe should be changed, let me know. We’ll be delivering a complete roster of player values in the coming weeks with deadlines to get the rosters built.

Bloom’s Presentation of the Salary Structure and Preliminary View of Player Values.

The starting point was considered a 128 million dollar cap, 53 man roster, and the 2011 franchise tag values. The salaries are meant to map to what a players value SHOULD be, as opposed to just using what they are getting paid at the moment. There will also be a bit of a increase or decrease in cost depending on the player’s expected quality years left in their career.

The 2011 franchise tag values were used because the 2012 values are dropping and we believe not as accurate a measure of what elite players at each position are worth now. The franchise tag values were also used as a measure of what elite options are worth in proportion to each other. Some positions top elite options are significantly more than the tag value simply because the best one or two options are truly worth that much more than a generic “elite” option as quantified by the franchise tag.

From there, values were scaled down to a “good but with flaws” and then “competent” level, with granularity to separate players to degrees between those options, and prospects or quality role players and depth were also given a higher value than the league minimum (for our purposes, 500000).

 The next step was to add up what a “competent” starting 22 would cost. Obviously, a “competent 22” would be a losing team, maybe the worst team in the league, but it acts as a baseline for what a team would have to lay out to field a reasonable starting lineup. The remaining money would be used to fill out the roster and upgrade positions from merely competent as the GM saw fit.

We decided that 50 (? – this is key) million would strike a good balance between allowing GMs to compose their roster true to their philosophy, but also make the decision of where to allot that money difficult, even painful. We hope you agree (and struggle to make your final decision).

Basic Salary Table x Position With Example Players per Tier

QB     RB WR
Elite (Rodgers/Brees) 20 Elite (Rice/McCoy/Foster) 9 Elite (CJ, Fitz) 10
VG w/ few flaws (Ryan, Schaub) 13 VG w/ few flaws (Mathews, Lynch) 6 VG w/ few flaws (Wallace, Marshall) 7
Competent (Fitz, Asmith) 9 Competent (Turner/McGahee) 3 Competent (Garcon, NWash) 4
Prospect 5 RBBC back 2 WR3/Role 2.5
Field 3 Prospect 2 Prospect 2
End of Roster 0.5 Field 1 Field 1
End of Roster 0.5 End of Roster 0.5
2011 FrTg 16 9.5 11.3
Elite (Gronk, Graham) 8 Elite (Thomas, Long) 12 Elite (Mankins, Nicks, Mangold) 7
VG w/ few flaws (Hmiller, Hern) 5 VG w/ few flaws (Clady, Ferguson) 8 VG w/ few flaws (Yanda, Wood) 5
Competent (Fasano, Celek) 2.5 Competent (Gross, Free) 5 Competent (Jackson, Spencer) 2.5
Role Player 1.5 Role/Starting Potential 3 Field 1
Field 1 Field 1 End of Roster 0.5
End of Roster 0.5 End of Roster 0.5
2011 FrTg 7.3 10.1 10.1
Elite (Ngata, Wilfork) 10 Elite (JPP, Allen, Suggs) 12 Elite (Willis, Ware) 9
VG w/ few flaws (Raji, Ratliff) 6 VG w/ few flaws (Osi, Babin, Calais) 8 VG w/ few flaws (Mayo, Wake) 6
Competent (Pouha, Patterson) 3 Competent (Bowen,  KVB) 4 Competent (Lofton, Wimbley) 3
Field 1 Role Player/Start Potential 2 Role Player 2
End of Roster 0.5 Field 1 Prospect 2
End of Roster 0.5 Field 1
End of Roster 0.5
2011 FrTg 12.5 12.9 10
Elite (Revis) 12 Elite (Berry, Reed) 6
VG w/ few flaws 8 VG w/ few flaws (Weddle) 4
Competent 4 Competent (Rclark, Godfrey) 2.5
Role Player/Start Potential 3 Field 1
Field 1 End of Roster 0.5
End of Roster 0.5
2011 FrTg 14 8.8
Chase Stuart’s View of Bloom’s Presented Structure:

You basically have $100M of free money.  With a minimum salary of $500K, you have to spend at least 26.5M on your 53 players.  So you have just over $100M to spend on player upgrades from the end of roster guys. Here’s my rough math:

  • Offensive players should take up about $55M of that with defense taking up $45M, and you use the remainder on upgrading at K/P.
  • Now you need to figure out starters and backups, but I imagine 80% of your discretionary money goes to starters, with the rest going to backups and special teamers.  So let’s go with $44M for your starting offense and $36M for your starting defense.
  • OL, as 5/11 of the starters, would get $20Mextra  if you think, on average, OL are equal to the other six players on the field.  So if you go with a very good LT at 8.5M, you get only $3.5M for the rest of your OL (remember, each player gets a free 0.5M). That will leave you with about an average line, IMO.
So for QB, RB, WR, WR, TE, WR/TE/RB, you get $24M (or $27M once you add in the $0.5M).  20M may be high, but even at that price, I might still want an elite QB.  So you have only $1-$2M to spend on the skill position players, in other words, your offense is going to be pretty weak.

Maybe you don’t spend 80% on your starters, maybe it’s 90%.  But either way, I don’t think the values are too low.  While intuitively you might think Brady is a steal at $20M, that’s predicated on finding steals elsewhere.  Which is the point of this exercise, on some level.

You could go super offense heavy, and super starter heavy, but those come with drawbacks.  I think the offensive values seem about right here.

Once again, thanks for participating. I’m going to give you plenty of time to create these rosters. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me.



3 responses to “RSP Writers Project Update: Basic Salary Structure”

  1. I wonder if a team under this structure is capable of being better than league average. Most, if not all, NFL teams that are half decent are built around refreshing from the relatively cheaper draft, as opposed to free agent salary structures.

    I suspect someone building a team in this format absolutely must seek out undervalued, and only undervalued, players.

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