The list will not simply look at the best players in the league by any means, but players for whom teams paid small amounts who vastly outplayed their paychecks. These players are often young players, still in their rookie contracts, who were starting to break out as stars. In terms of 2013's value defense, Vontaze Burfict was the leading tackler in the league and because he was paid under a million dollars, he made the all-value team. Paul Worrilow of the Falcons was another selection, as was Richard Sherman.
While writing about "value" players as opposed to the best players in the league is a way to not only analyse efficient spending in the NFL, but also to find some unsung heroes. With this description of "value" there is always a formula in play. The measurables used will be simple and effective. Every ten yards (rushing or passing) will count for a point, while touchdowns, whether thrown or rushed for, will count for twenty points and wins will count for one hundred, because at the end of the day, the "W" is what matters the most and no player affects his team's ability to win like a quarterback. Okay, J.J. Watt does but he's an anomaly that not even the NFL's best scientists can figure out. Finally, interceptions and lost fumbles will count for minus twenty points. Adding/subtracting these numbers will equal a point total, which, when used to divide the player's salary, gives a value number.
What can not be stressed enough is that this is not a list of best quarterbacks in the league, but is rather an small experiment to see what teams got the most out of their quarterbacks, given how much they were paid. The number used for each player's yearly earnings was "cap hit," essentially, how much of their allotted salary cap a team used on that single player. All financial stats are from spotrac.com, and all performance stats are from Rotoworld.com or profootballreference.com. Finally, this is little more than a "for fun" experiment, so if you have any suggestions as to how to better assign values to stats, hit the comments section, as constructive criticism is always interesting, as is unadulterated hate.
16 Tom Brady
Tom Brady may well be en route to a Super Bowl right now, as his team looks great and recently knocked off the Baltimore Ravens in a great divisional weekend matchup. Brady has had another great year and really turned his game up a notch after rough losses to the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs early in the season. The New England Patriots took a cap hit of approximately $14.8 million for Tom Brady in 2014.
His numerical breakdown: 417 points for yardage (4166/10, rounded up), 660 points for 33 touchdowns, 1200 points for 12 wins and -240 for 12 turnovers. His number is 2037. His $14.8 million cap hit divided by 2037 is 7,265.
Brady recently restructured his contract for the next three years, opening up more money for the Patriots to work with, which could increase his value to the team in the future.
15 Andy Dalton
The Red Rifle comes in at number fourteen on our list after a decent season, helping the Bengals to the playoffs, but losing to Andrew Luck and the Colts in Wild Card week. His week ten performance against the Browns was beyond laughable, as he threw ten completions on 33 attempts, with three picks. He truly was "The Red Mistake" in that game. Much of his team's offensive success was due to their defense and on offense, running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. But for the most part, Dalton held his own and looked decent in most games.
Looking at his numbers he rushed and threw for a total of 3,567 yards, with 23 total touchdowns and 19 turnovers. adding ten wins makes his number 1,437 (357+460+1000-380=1,437). Dividing his 2014 cap hit of roughly $9 million by 1,437 equals a value number of 6263, good enough for 14th on this list.
14 Cam Newton
Newton and the Panthers were an absolute dark horse coming into the playoffs, having won the worst division in football with a losing record to face the dilapidated Arizona Cardinals in a wild card game. Newton was still suffering from an injury at the start of the season but ultimately came around to have a decent year. Statistically, it was his worst season to date, but much of that is due to the fact that he played in just 14 games and was injured in most of them.
He rushed and threw for 3,666 total yards, with 23 touchdowns and 17 turnovers. The Panthers won seven games during the season. Thus his number is 1,187; (367+460+700-340=1,187). The Carolina Panthers took a $7 million cap hit for Newton. $7 million divided by 1187 is 5,897.
13 Tony Romo
Tony Romo had an amazing year in 2014, leading the Dallas Cowboys to a division title and silencing many of his critics. Often considered (falsely) to be one of the causes of poor seasons in Dallas, he threw 34 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions. His season was cut short by a questionable call on a catch made by Dez Bryant against the Packers. In 2014, the Cowboys took a cap hit of $11.77 million for Romo. He definitely earned his paycheck in 2014.
In terms of numbers, Romo gained a total of 3,766 yards, with 34 touchdowns and 12 turnovers. Add on 12 wins and his numerical total is 2017 (377+680+1200-240=2017). $11.77 million over 2017 is 5,835.
12 Kyle Orton
After a rough couple of starts, E.J. Manuel was relieved of his starting quarterback job by veteran Kyle Orton. The Dave Grohl lookalike was not by any means an elite quarterback for the Bills in 2014, but he put on a decent show regardless. He played 12 games for Buffalo, winning seven of them. Much of the Bills' success is due to their phenomenal defense, but Orton played well considering his age and the fact that he has primarily served as a backup throughout his career.
The Bills gave up $4 million for Orton in 2014, and his numbers were as follows: 3,032 total yards, 18 touchdowns (17 throwing and 1 rushing), seven wins and 13 turnovers. This brings his point total to 1,103. $4 million over 1103 is 3626, a very solid showing by the newly retired quarterback.
11 Alex Smith
The Kansas City Chiefs' 2014 campaign was ultimately a dud, but quarterback Alex Smith led them to eight wins without throwing a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. His "risk adverse" style of quarterbacking led to 18 touchdown passes, and only six interceptions on the year, which is a better ratio than many quarterbacks in the league and every quarterback on this list.
He gained a total of 3,519 yards on the year, with 19 total touchdowns and seven turnovers. He won eight games as well, making his numerical point total 1,392 (352+380+800-140=1,392). The Chiefs had just a $4.6 million cap hit for him, making his value number 3,304; good enough for the 10th spot.
10 Ryan Fitzpatrick
The bearded Houston Texans' quarterback has yet to have a winning season in which he has started for a team. Houston went 6-6 in 2014 with him starting, but as with a few members of this list, the defense deserves more credit for wins than the offense. Fitzpatrick himself had a decent year compared to the rest of his career. His numbers were low, but his touchdown to interception ratio was 17-8 which is good, and the best of his career.
The Texas took a $3.375 million cap hit for Fitzpatrick in 2014. He ran and threw for 2,667 yards, with 19 total touchdowns and 9 turnovers. Adding to that his six wins on the year, his number is 1,067, which when used to divide into $3.375 million, gives him a value number of 3,163.
9 Andrew Luck
Some Indy fans like to make jokes about having "luck on their side" and other nauseating play on words involving the word "luck," but there is nothing lucky about the guy. In terms of overall yards, Luck led all quarterbacks in 2014. He passed and ran for 5,034 yards, which is more than both Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger, who shared the passing title.
He threw 40 touchdowns and ran for three more, but had a high turnover number, giving up 16 interceptions and six lost fumbles. Still, adding 503+860 (43 touchdowns x 20 points each) + 1100 for wins - 440 for turnovers, his magic number is 2,023. Considering the Colts only took a cap hit of $6 million for him, he's total value number is 2,965, good for eighth.
8 Colin Kaepernick
It should be noted that while Kaepernick was awarded a huge contract extension during the offseason, the big money from that does not start rolling in until 2015. The 49ers had a rough year and so did their quarterback. The team had injuries, legal trouble on defense, and simply didn't click on offense. Kaepernick himself put up decent numbers but didn't make the same impact he did on the team in 2012 or 2013.
San Francisco took a $3.77 million cap hit for Kaepernick in 2014. His 4,008 total yards, with 20 touchdowns, 15 turnovers and eight wins gives him a magic number of 1,301. After the calculations, his value number is 2,897.
7 Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill takes his share of criticism every year, and one of the main causes is his lack of a deep ball arm. While valid, it does not take away from the fact that he put up some great numbers and had the best year of his career in 2014. He earned more yards, touchdowns and had a higher completion percentage in 2014 than his first two years. The Dolphins only went 8-8 in 2014, but Tannehill is showing himself to be making good decisions and is constantly improving.
The Dolphins' cap hit for Tannehill was just $3.45 million in 2014, and as stated previously, he ran and caught for 4,356, with 28 touchdowns and just 14 turnovers. Our point total for Tannehill is 1,516, and therefore his value number is 2275.
6 Geno Smith
It's hard to appraise Geno Smith's performance in 2014. The Jets as a team were awful and that's one of the main reason for them firing Rex Ryan after the season. Smith himself played better than his rookie year but the team around him was simply lacking. His completion rate went up and was nearly 60%, he threw fewer interceptions than 2013 while throwing one more touchdown. His week eight start against the Buffalo Bills was vomit-worthy, but he bounced back and finished the year with a great win over Miami in which he passed for 358 yards, three touchdowns and an 80% completion rating.
The Jets took a $1.14 million cap hit for Smith in 2014. He rushed and passed for 2,763 yards in his 14 games, scoring 14 total touchdowns but giving the ball away 16 times. Finally, with three wins, his point total for our experiment comes out to a measly 536. When used to divide his cap hit for the year, his value number is 2,126.
5 Derek Carr
The Oakland Raiders looked brutal once again but showed some signs of life late in the season. While Khalil Mack and the ancient but still great Charles Woodson provided some good play on defense, Derek Carr showed poise and good decision making under center. The second rounder out of Fresno State passed for over 3,000 yards in his first season and had a very respectable touchdown to interception ratio.
The Raiders paid him roughly $25,000 short of a million in 2014. His yardage total was 3,357, while he had 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and four lost fumbles. He added three wins late in the season and after all the math, his point total is 736 (336 (yards)+420 (touchdowns) + 300 (wins) - 320 (turnovers) = 736). $977,000 divided by 736 is 1,327, a great value number for a solid rookie with a team in the "rebuilding" process.
4 Teddy Bridgewater
"Teddy Throwsevelt" is our number three after getting the starting quarterback spot in Minnesota and actually putting up a decent twelve games. The Vikings went 6-6 with him starting under center.
He threw for less yards and touchdowns than Derek Carr, but produced more wins by years end which is the major reason that he's in front of Oakland's rookie. Bridgewater rushed and threw for a total of 3,128 yards, with 15 total touchdowns and 12 giveaways. Adding 600 points on for his six wins makes his total 973. His team took just a $1.25 million cap hit for his services this year, making his value number 1,285.
3 Brian Hoyer
2014 was the first time football fans have ever seen Brian Hoyer in a starting capacity. He proved to be the superior quarterback to Johnny College Football and started 13 games for the Cleveland Browns. He went 7-6 but much like Andy Dalton (and others) the team's victories were decidedly defensive ones as opposed to offensive, for the most part.
The Browns incurred just a $1.25 million cap hit for Hoyer in 2014, and he gained a total of 3,365 yards, with 12 touchdowns, 14 giveaways and of course those seven wins. Added and subtracted together, the number comes out to 997. $1.25 million divided by 997 gives his value number, which is 1,253.
2 Russell Wilson
The Seattle Seahawks have an absolute gem in Russell Wilson. The undersized quarterback is among the sharpest in the league and figuratively has heart out his ears (sorry for the visual). His 2014 stats were amazing, and his team only incurred a $817,000 cap hit for him.
Wilson had a total of 4,324 yards in 2014, with 12 wins, 26 total touchdowns and just seven takeaways. He did not have a lost fumble, despite putting the ball on the ground eleven times. His point total comes out to 2,012, which, when divided into his cap hit, is just 397. He is by far the most value-efficient quarterback in the NFL.
1 Wall of Shame
"Value Numbers" were calculated for every quarterback who started more than ten games. Of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league, most had numbers in the 7,000-13,000 range. However, two quarterbacks scored in the 18,000's. These were Jay Cutler, who compiled plenty of touchdowns and yards, but had few wins and way too many turnovers, and Josh McCown, who had several more turnovers than touchdowns, under 2500 yards and of course, led the Buccaneers to just one victory, in 11 starts.