KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The trouble with a bargain in the NFL is that it has such a limited shelf life. Rookies outplay their initial, slotted contracts and demand market value for services rendered. Stud veterans sniff around for the most guaranteed money and the most years; if you won’t give it to them, they’ll find someone else who will.
Or hold out trying.
The Kansas City Chiefs dodged a training-camp bullet last week by making running back Jamaal Charles the second-highest paid-player at his position in the NFL, and did so in a way that didn’t blow up his cap number for 2014 and 2015 while also giving both sides an out after No. 25 turns 30 — the "sell-by" date for most tailbacks in the pro game.
Charles has a $9.6 million cap number in 2014, according to Sunday night numbers from the web site OverTheCap.com. Before his extension, that number was reportedly $7.3 million. If we take that second number and divide it by his cumulative plus-minus grade in 2013 from ProFootballFocus.com last year, it means Charles contributed $382,198 for every PFF.com point in 2013 — making him one of the best bargains on the Chiefs’ roster. Especially when compared to skill-position peers such as Alex Smith ($3.076 million per PFF.com point) and Dwayne Bowe ($7.5 million per point).
If we apply that formula to the other veterans on the Chiefs’ roster, it’s easy to see who’s giving the club the most bang for their salary-cap buck, right now. One name won’t surprise you, but the other three might …
THREE CHIEFS WHO ARE DELIVERING THE MOST BANG FOR THEIR SALARY-CAP BUCK
:03 … (tie) ALLEN BAILEY, DE (cap number as of Sunday night: $808,986; 2013 rating by PFF: +5.0; dollars per cumulative PFF.com rating: $0.16179 million) and RYAN SUCCOP, K (cap number as of Sunday night: $2.708 million; 2013 rating by PFF: +22.3; dollars per cumulative PFF.com rating: $0.12143 million)
Bailey was sneaky good last year, even though he was heavily subbed as part of the defensive line rotation that surrounded nose tackle Dontari Poe. What the former Miami Hurricane lacked in quantity he made up for in quality: Bailey wound up among PFF’s top 25 3-4 defensive ends in tackles (18th, with 26), quarterback hurries (18th, with 19), and stops (solo tackles "which constitute an offensive failure," 23rd, with 19). On PFF’s chart of the top run-stop 3-4 defensive ends in pro football, among those who appeared on at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps, Bailey’s stops percentage of 11.6 ranked fourth overall — behind only Houston’s J.J. Watt (13.7), Cleveland’s Billy Winn (13.4) and Philadelphia’s Cedric Thornton (12.4).
Succop is an interesting — and unexpected — addition here, no question. There’s a reason: The PFF system gives special teamers extra points if they also handle kickoff duties, which explains Succop’s high cumulative rating despite a fairly middling .786 percentage on field-goal attempts in 2013. The 27-year-old kicker received a +18.8 rating for his work on kickoffs, good for 15th among qualified kickers in 2013.
:02 … JUSTIN HOUSTON, OLB (cap number as of Sunday night: $1.598 million; 2013 rating by PFF: +31.9; dollars per cumulative PFF.com rating: $0.05009 million)
Kind of goes without saying, doesn’t it? With Charles cashing in, Houston stands alone as the best young Chiefs star currently outplaying his contract. And, in this case, outplaying it at a significant clip.
Your eyes didn’t deceive you: The Chiefs’ defense was significantly less effective when the former Georgia standout, who turned 25 in January, wasn’t on the field. Houston ranked fourth among PFF’s qualified 3-4 outside linebackers in pass-rush rating (+20.8), fifth in run defense (+5.4) and fourth in pass coverage (+3.1).
All of which means, holdout or no holdout, Houston probably won’t be on anybody’s best value list for much longer.
:01 … ANTHONY SHERMAN, FB (cap number as of Sunday night: $645,000; 2013 rating by PFF: +15.7; dollars per cumulative PFF.com rating: $0.0410 million)
If PFF likes kickers who can contribute on kickoffs, then it loves fullbacks, especially fullbacks who appear to be knocking the living snot out of people one on one. PFF last fall gave the 242-pound Sherman — a dude cut like "Spike," the giant bulldog from those old "Tom & Jerry" cartoons — a +16.7 grade on run-blocking. That wasn’t just the highest number for any fullback to appear on at least 25 percent of his team’s offense snaps; that number was twice as good as the No. 2 blocking fullback in the NFL, the Packers’ John Kuhn (+8.3 blocking). and No. 3, the Giants’ John Conner.
Even more impressive: Sherman’s +15.7 grade was achieved on almost half the snaps (391) as the second-highest fullback in terms of overall grade, Mike Tolbert, who received a +10.0 on 606 snaps last fall in Carolina. Effectively a third guard in coach Andy Reid’s running game, no back opened up real estate the way Sherman did in 2013. Now that the Chiefs made it rain for Charles, maybe his No. 1 lead blocker should be asking for a little more love, too.