NFL free agency: The search for surplus value at center, guard and tight end

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The quest to quantify contributions from free agents continues with interior offensive linemen and tight ends. Jason Chilton applies the Dollar Value Performance metric and finds a few surprises among recent free agent additions. SB Nation's GIF Tournament V

In Part 1 of our surplus value series, we introduced the concept of Dollar Value Performance (DVP). DVP seeks to to quantify the value created by a player in a given season by translating it into dollar terms, allowing us to compare the player's value against his cap charge and determine whether or not his team was able to extract surplus value in that season (or over the life of his contract).

NFL Free Agency

In addition to introducing the DVP concept, we took a look at three years worth of free agency at the offensive tackle position in order to start exploring what kind of surplus value expectations teams (and fans) should have on the eve of another round of free agent signings. This time, we're adding interior offensive linemen and tight ends to the mix. The overall surplus value picture wasn't overly pretty for offensive tackles; will their linemates fare any better?

Guards

While they lack the cachet (and the cash) of premier left tackles, guards are vital components of strong line play and can command a pretty penny at the top of the market. For context, let's start out by looking at 2013's top-performing guards by DVP.

Team Player Total Snaps Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Run DVP Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap Pass DVP Total DVP 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Surplus Value
GB Josh Sitton 1141 493 2.1 $2579626 648 1.2% $7164121 $9743747 $5550000 $4193747
DET Larry Warford 1158 490 1.7 $2298331 668 2.2% $6747187 $9045518 $579250 $8466268
DEN Louis Vasquez 1152 509 1.6 $2318476 643 2.2% $6494673 $8813149 $3250000 $5563149

Josh Sitton was a picture of two-way excellence in 2013, contributing more than his fair share to the Packers' run game renaissance while also serving as one of the few non-turnstile pass blockers on the Green Bay front.

Even though the Lions suffered a heartbreaking collapse to end the season, they can take some solace in the fact that rookie Larry Warford bagged the surplus value title at the guard position. Warford's ability to grade the road might not have been a huge surprise given his girth and college tape, but he also excelled in keeping Matt Stafford clean in Detroit's high-volume passing attack. It's too early to compare Warford to Hall of Fame namesake Larry Allen, but he's off to a tremendous start.

SB Nation NFL

In a free agent market that's often a litany of bad decisions, the Broncos look to have made a good one last year in heisting Louis Vasquez from the rival Chargers. Of course, like linemates Chris Clark and Orlando Franklin, his sparkling pass protection numbers get a big assist from Peyton Manning's rapid-fire releases in the pocket.

There's probably an argument to be made that even elite interior linemen don't impact the game enough to warrant more than 7 percent of a team's overall cap room. But our system assumes that there's logic in the top-of-market rates at each position, and it's tough to argue that these guys didn't deserve top dollar in 2013.

How well have teams extracted surplus value from interior linemen in free agency? To start addressing that question we'll hop in the Way-Back Machine and venture back in time to 2011. The King's Speech took home Best Picture honors, "Rolling in the Deep" topped the Billboard Hot 100 and this was your class of free agent guards:

Signing Team Player 2011 Cap Hit 2011 Value 2011 Surplus 2012 Cap Hit 2012 Value 2012 Surplus
PIT Trai Essex $525000 $426125 -$98875 $60000 N/A (No longer on team) -$60000
STL Harvey Dahl $4000000 $3576789 -$423211 $4000000 $5189556 $1189556
CIN Max Jean-Gilles $1150000 $- -$1150000 $- N/A (No longer on team) $-
ARI Daryn Colledge $2500000 $3506511 $1006511 $3175000 $5823617 $2648617
CHI Chris Spencer $2250000 $2213771 -$36229 $4250000 $1112428 -$3137572
SEA Robert Gallery $4333333 $1452244 -$2881089 $666666 N/A (No longer on team) -$666666
MIN Charlie Johnson* $1600000 $2041447 $441447 $3800000 $2883348 -$916652

The 2011 class in 2013 and total surplus value to date:

Signing Team Player 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
PIT Trai Essex $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- -$158875
STL Harvey Dahl $2750000 $1388982 -$1361018 $- -$594672
CIN Max Jean-Gilles $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- -$1150000
ARI Daryn Colledge $7275000 $2459349 -$4815651 $- -$1160522
CHI Chris Spencer $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- -$3173801
SEA Robert Gallery $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- -$3547755
MIN Charlie Johnson* $3850000 $1629154 -$2220846 -$1200000 -$3896050

Adele may have been rolling in the deep, but this class was anything but. Like its brethren at tackle, the 2011 free agent guard class failed to land anyone in the green through three full seasons of play. Of the guys who lasted three years, Harvey Dahl came the closest -- from a GM's perspective, coming out a mere $500K down through three years of a free agent contract is nothing to be ashamed of.

Daryn Colledge turned in two strong years in the desert before succumbing to the pattern so prevalent in free agent contracts: As a player's cap charge rises, his level of play frequently falls. Robert Gallery was a bust of a signing for the Seahawk, whose free agent genius seems confined to the defensive side of the ball, and Charlie Johnson has slowly bled value for the Vikings at guard for two seasons after lining up at tackle in 2011.

For reference, here are the key performance figures for this class from 2011-13 that drove their DVP numbers:

2011 2012 2013
Player Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap
Trai Essex 87 1.5 89 7.9% N/A (No longer on team) N/A (No longer on team)
Harvey Dahl 294 0.2 417 3.6% 421 -0.3 529 3% 218 0.8 325 5.8%
Max Jean-Gilles 0 0 0 0% N/A (Not in football) N/A (Not in football)
Daryn Colledge 413 1.7 601 5.2% 401 -1.7 677 3.1% 475 -1.3 575 5%
Chris Spencer 439 0.6 488 6.1% 178 2.4 172 7.6% N/A (No longer on team)
Robert Gallery 386 -2.3 409 5.1% N/A (Injured) N/A (Not in football)
Charlie Johnson 455 -0.3 594 8.2% 498 -1 555 4.7% 406 -1.3 597 5.9%

Fortunately for the league's GMs, there were some brighter spots at guard in 2012:

Signing Team Player 2012 Cap Hit 2012 Value 2012 Surplus 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
NO Ben Grubbs $2700000 $7430479 $4730479 $4300000 $5289747 $989747 $- $5720226
DAL Nate Livings $1750000 $5951921 $4201921 $2400000 N/A (No longer on team) -$2400000 $- $1801921
DAL Mackenzy Bernadeau $1812500 $2984505 $1172005 $2039166 $2403905 $364739 $- $1536744
CHI Chilo Rachal $540000 $1482030 $942030 $- N/A (Not in Football) $- $- $942030
OAK Mike Brisiel $1260000 $1946226 $686226 $2810000 $2549967 -$260033 $- $426193
ARI Pat McQuistan $437500 $388807 -$48693 $- N/A (Not in Football) $- $- -$48693
TB Jamon Meredith $700000 $1213778 $513778 $900000 $135128 -$764872 $- -$251094
NE Robert Gallery $500000 N/A (Cut in training camp) -$500000 $- N/A (Not in Football) $- $- -$500000
MIN Geoff Schwartz $1500000 $787010 -$712990 $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- -$712990
MIA Artis Hicks $1500000 N/A (Injured) -$1500000 $- N/A (Not in Football) $- $- -$1500000
IND Mike McGlynn $925000 $1080509 $155509 $2575000 $221098 -$2353902 $- -$2198393
CIN Travelle Wharton $3025000 N/A (Injured) -$3025000 $700000 N/A (No longer on team) -$700000 -$500000 -$4225000
TEN Steve Hutchinson $3500000 $1928895 -$1571105 $3000000 N/A (Not in Football) -$3000000 $- -$4571105
TB Carl Nicks $14857000 $2962876 -$11894124 $3072000 $937568 -$2134432 $- -$14028556

Drew Brees can make hay despite shoddy play at the tackle spots, but simple dictates of three-dimensional space demand that a QB who's (ahem) listed at 6'0 needs his interior OL to provide a sturdy bulwark against middle pressure. When All-Pro guard Carl Nicks departed at the start of 2012 free agency, the Saints wasted no time grabbing the next-best thing in ex-Raven Ben Grubbs. Grubbs' high-quality play, particularly in pass protection, has bagged the Saints almost $6 million in surplus value over the first two years of his deal while enabling Brees to do his thing.

NFL Free Agency

When you're developing a new valuation system, nothing shakes your faith quite like data that says Jerry Jones made two good signings at the same position. But that's exactly the tale that DVP tells about Jerrah's acquisitions of Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau in 2012. Livings' underrated work in the run game generated a ton of value -- unfortunately, hilariously bad play at center and right tackle meant that Dallas' runners were getting hit in the backfield regardless. Bernadeau's level of play was never outstanding, but his reasonably modest cap figure still gave the Cowboys a solid return on their investment.

Of course, it wasn't all roses and song. Robert Gallery suckered one final team before going gently into that good night, and both Artis Hicks and Travelle Wharton failed to make it out of training camp due to season-ending injuries. Steve Hutchinson reached the end of the line far sooner than the Titans had anticipated, and Mike McGlynn has never really reached the beginning of the line in his career so far. Carl Nicks was never going to justify his absurd $14.8 million cap figure in 2012, but his 2013 staph infection and iffy prospects for 2014 could make for a totally ruinous signing for the Bucs.

Here's how these guys performed for their new teams in 2012 and 2013:

2012 2013
Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap
Ben Grubbs 434 1.4 700 3.1% 455 0.2 699 4%
Nate Livings 429 2.9 700 4.4% N/A (Not in football)
Mackenzy Bernadeau 384 -0.1 579 4.8% 269 2.4 427 5.6%
Chilo Rachal 255 -2.1 273 4.4% N/A (Not in football)
Mike Brisiel 389 -1.9 599 5.2% 393 -0.6 505 4.8%
Jamon Meredith 345 -1.2 468 6.2% 266 -3.3 222 8.1%
Pat McQuistan 59 1.2 85 5.9% N/A (Not in football)
Robert Gallery 0 0 0 0% N/A (Not in football)
Geoff Schwartz 80 6.5 80 5% 205 3 293 3.4%
Artis Hicks N/A (Injured) N/A (Not in football)
Mike McGlynn 451 -2.7 667 6.7% 289 -3 467 8.4%
Travelle Wharton 0 0 0 0% 395 2.7 456 3.7%
Steve Hutchinson 263 -0.8 446 4.9% N/A (Not in football)
Carl Nicks 214 2.3 241 3.3% 60 1.3 90 3.3%

Let's round out the guard discussion with a look at 2013's free agent crop:

Signing Team Player 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
DEN Louis Vasquez $3250000 $8813149 $5563149 $- $5563149
CHI Matt Slauson $815000 $5578163 $4763163 $- $4763163
NYJ Willie Colon $1162500 $5005484 $3842984 $- $3842984
KC Geoff Schwartz $700000 $3488715 $2788715 $- $2788715
CIN Mike Pollak $620000 $1811372 $1191372 $- $1191372
BUF Doug Legursky $900000 $1309831 $409831 $- $409831
SD Chad Rinehart $1250000 $1487139 $237139 $- $237139
TEN Andy Levitre $4600000 $4731644 $131644 $- $131644
CHI Eben Britton $555000 $620126 $65126 $- $65126
ARI Chilo Rachal $- N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster) $- $- $-
NYJ Stephen Peterman $50000 N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster) -$50000 $- -$50000
MIA Lance Louis $125000 N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster) -$125000 $- -$125000
UFA Tyronne Green $168471 N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster) -$168471 $- -$168471
SF Adam Snyder $1143000 $933432 -$209568 $- -$209568
SD Rich Ohrnberger $675000 $448921 -$226079 $- -$226079
PIT Guy Whimper $715000 $475718 -$239282 $- -$239282
MIN Seth Olsen $670000 N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster) -$670000 $- -$670000
TEN Chris Spencer $905000 N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster) -$905000 $- -$905000
IND Donald Thomas $2750000 $266974 -$2483026 $- -$2483026

The aforementioned Louis Vasquez headlines the group from a surplus value perspective, but he wasn't the only one to find himself solidly in the green. Ex-Jet Matt Slauson gave the Bears a fine return in his first season in Chicago, while ex-Steeler Willie Colon ably filled Slauson's shoes in New York. Geoff Schwartz, who didn't even live up to the Vikings' modest investment in 2012, went on to light the house on fire in KC in 2013. Sometimes it's about fitting into the right scheme, and sometimes this game simply defies analysis.

The 2013 class did see an unusually high number of guys who failed to make it to Week 1 with their new teams, despite receiving a signing bonus, but the position generally avoided outright disaster in their first seasons. Even Donald Thomas' woes were due to injury -- if he recovers, he'll go a long way toward solidifying Indy's offensive front for 2014.

The 2013's performance by run and pass metrics:

Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap
Louis Vasquez 509 1.6 643 2.2%
Matt Slauson 440 1.7 630 4.1%
Willie Colon 503 -1.4 557 3.2%
Geoff Schwartz 205 3 293 3.4%
Mike Pollak 186 -0.1 182 3.3%
Doug Legursky 380 -4.7 400 4.8%
Chad Rinehart 335 -2.1 349 4.9%
Andy Levitre 470 2.3 612 4.9%
Eben Britton 112 2.3 79 8.9%
Chilo Rachal N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster)
Stephen Peterman N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster)
Lance Louis N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster)
Tyronne Green N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster)
Adam Snyder 185 1.9 160 8.8%
Rich Ohrnberger 68 8 54 9.3%
Guy Whimper 84 -9.2 129 4.7%
Seth Olsen N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster)
Chris Spencer N/A (Not on team's Week 1 Active Roster)
Donald Thomas 30 3.7 42 7.1%


Centers

High-end salaries on the offensive line tend to decrease as you move from the outside in. Compare the average cap charge of the top 10 best-compensated players at each position:

Offensive Tackles: $9.0 million

Offensive Guards: $7.1 million

Centers: $5.7 million

With a lower overall salary bar to clear, how does the center position fare in creating surplus value? Let's start with a look at the DVP top three from 2013 at center:

Total Snaps Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Run DVP Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap Pass DVP Total DVP 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Surplus Value
PHI Jason Kelce 1119 535 2.4 $3281279 584 2.1% $3013719 $6294998 $579358 $5715640
DET Dominic Raiola 1156 488 0.9 $1951193 668 1.8% $3954600 $5905793 $3012500 $2893293
DEN Manuel Ramirez 1223 529 1 $2190415 694 2.4% $3054222 $5244637 $1231666 $4012971

Jason Kelce's rep as one of the game's elite young centers was borne out in 2013, and he helped to enable Chip Kelly's blistering pace and run-game renaissance in Philly. Dominic Raiola still had plenty left in the tank in his age-35 season, showing why the Lions were eager to welcome his old bones back into the fold for one more run in 2014. Manuel Ramirez gave Denver quality two-way play at an affordable price; as always, Manning-enabled pressure stat caveats apply.

As we start looking at the position's free agency history over the last few years, our task is simplified by the relatively small number of guys changing teams at this position. In fact, in 2011 that number was just one:

Signing Team Player 2011 Cap Hit 2011 Value 2011 Surplus 2012 Cap Hit 2012 Value 2012 Surplus 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
NYG David Baas $2700000 $1401092 -$1298908 $3375000 $3128975 -$246025 $4725000 $231868 -$4493132 $- -$6038065

David Baas was a relatively pricey addition for the Giants in 2011, and he's been emblematic of the advancing age and declining play that has bedeviled the G-Men's front (and, by extension, Eli Manning).

Baas' three-year run of play:

2011 2012 2013
Player Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap
David Baas 306 -2.1 389 3.1% 455 2.2 563 4.3% 53 1.2 90 5.6%

The 2012 free agent class at center wasn't really anything to write home about, either.

Signing Team Player 2012 Cap Hit 2012 Value 2012 Surplus 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
GB Jeff Saturday $4000000 $3458103 -$541897 $825000 N/A (Not in football) -$825000 $- -$1366897
IND Samson Satele $1866666 $1000490 -$866176 $3866666 $1914801 -$1951865 $- -$2818040
STL Scott Wells $4500000 $1831646 -$2668354 $6500000 $3570550 -$2929450 $- -$5597804

Jeff Saturday's value as a pass protector kept him within sight of his 2012 cap charge, but he had clearly hit the end of the line and ended up laying $825K of dead money on the Packers in 2013. Samson Satele signed a deal commensurate with an upper-echelon center despite never showing the play to match, and predictably struggled to justify his cap hit in Indianapolis. Former Packer Scott Wells had been an upper-echelon center, but was paid near the very top of the market, so even two years of top-flight pass protection didn't come close to justifying the Rams' cash outlay.

The corresponding performance metrics:

2012 2013
Player Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap
Jeff Saturday 426 -3.3 554 1.8% N/A (Not in football)
Samson Satele 238 0.9 404 5.2% 301 -3.8 538 2.8%
Scott Wells 186 -3.2 248 1.6% 339 -2.6 417 1.2%

And, dear reader, if you were waiting on tenterhooks for the 2013 center class to redeem the position ... I have some bad news.

2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
TEN Robert Turner $1500000 -$29940 -$1529940 $- -$1529940
DEN Dan Koppen $1015000 $- -$1015000 $- -$1015000

A massive misfire in the Titan's O-line rebuilding effort, Robert Turner turned in 400 horrendous snaps for the Titans and actually managed to play well below what you'd expect from a street free agent at the position. The Titans would arguably have been better off if he'd pulled a Dan Koppen and simply suffered a season-ending injury in August.

The shudder-inducing stats:

2013
Player Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Pressure Allowed / Snap
Robert Turner 179 -4.3 222 5.9%
Dan Koppen N/A (Injured)

It hasn't been a pretty picture in the pivot as far as free agency is concerned. A lower average positional salary doesn't prevent value destruction if you're still handing out deals that overvalue the player relative to their positional performance.

Tight Ends

As we start the move out of the trenches and into the skill positions, things can get murkier when it comes to quantifying value. From here on in, offensive players will derive much of their value from how well their offensive linemen and quarterbacks perform -- at the tight end position, we've chosen to go with Pro Football Focus' run block rating (converted to a meaningful per-snap scale) and their signature yards per pass route run. There's no doubt that guys with better QBs and more highly functioning offenses have an unfair advantage on some of their peers by that metric, but it's the best that we've got to work with at this stage of the advanced statistics' evolution in the NFL game.

Once more, let's start with a look at the top DVP performers at the position for 2013:

Total Snaps Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Run DVP Pass Snaps Yards/ Pass Route Run Pass DVP Total DVP 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Surplus Value
NO Jimmy Graham 774 236 -3 $217909 538 2.3 $9460448 $9678357 $1489285 $8189072
SF Vernon Davis 834 433 0.2 $1917986 401 2.1 $5599413 $7517399 $8739916 -$1222517
DAL Jason Witten 1012 473 0.3 $2164055 539 1.6 $3442639 $5606695 $4352000 $1254695

Despite some suspect blocking, Jimmy Graham's presence at the top of this list should come as no surprise. Of course, comical in-line blocking may all be part of his master plan to get classified as a wide receiver, so we'll give Graham the benefit of the doubt there. There's no doubt that his outstanding 2.3 yards per pass route run figure would make him a standout by either designation, and that the will have made out like bandits on Graham even if an arbitrator compels them to tag him as a wideout.

Vernon Davis was one of the position's few true two-way standouts (a 0.2 Run Rating per Snap isn't bad at a position that averaged a -1.6 mark -- either the PFF guys have really high expectations, or the spreadification of the NFL game has massively devalued in-line blocking at the position).  He spent most of the season as San Francisco's scariest offensive weapon, but the overall low volume of the 49er pass attack kept him from matching his hefty $8.7 million cap charge despite tremendous play on a per-snap basis. It's doubtful that too many folks in the 49ers front office are complaining -- Davis is undoubtedly one of the game's best.

Old war horse Jason Witten was the position's two-way standard bearer until healthy Rob Gronkowski appeared on the scene for two-thirds of each of the last few seasons. Witten is closer to the end of his career than to the beginning, but he still created enough value in both phases to add some surplus on top of a substantial $4.3 million cap figure.

Could any recent free agent signings approach the quality of the position's standard bearers? Let's start with a look at the 2011 tight end class:

Signing Team Player 2011 Cap Hit 2011 Value 2011 Surplus 2012 Cap Hit 2012 Value 2012 Surplus
DEN Dante Rosario $685000 $407945 -$277055 $- N/A (No longer on team) $-
CIN Bo Scaife $1000000 N/A (Injured) -$1000000 $- N/A (Not in football) $-
ARI Todd Heap $2125000 $2321685 $196685 $2159375 $710587 -$1448788
TEN Daniel Graham $2416667 $994475 -$1422192 $666667 N/A (No longer on team) -$664521
OAK Kevin Boss $3750000 $1985760 -$1764240 $500000 N/A (No longer on team) -$500000
SEA Zach J. Miller $3000000 $2271784 -$728216 $7000000 $4090034 -$2909966

The 2011 class in 2013 and total surplus value to date:

Player 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
Dante Rosario $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- -$277055
Bo Scaife $- N/A (Not in football) $- $- -$1000000
Todd Heap $- $- $- $- -$1252103
Daniel Graham $666667 N/A (Not in football) -$666667 $- -$2753380
Kevin Boss $1500000 N/A (No longer on team) -$1500000 $- -$3764240
Zach J. Miller $11000000 $3143030 -$7856970 $- -$11495152

If you're picking up on a trend that the 2011 free agent feeding frenzy didn't exactly result in a value bonanza, then you're not alone. Across four positions and 18 total players, not a single guy has managed to create aggregate surplus value across the 2011-2013 seasons. Tight ends kept the trend alive.

There are plenty of poor performances to review, but Zach Miller's deal with the Seahawks deserves special mention. It's mystifying to ponder what part of Miller's game made it seem like he should be any more than a $3 or $4 million per year player, but Seattle showered him with unbelievable largesse with a combined $18 million cap hit across the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Miller has solid speed for his position, but he likely broke the sound barrier when he lunged forward to sign this deal.

Here's how the 2011 class has performed across its three post-signing seasons:

2011 2012 2013
Player Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Yards/ Pass Route Run Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Yards/ Pass Route Run Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Yards/ Pass Route Run
Dante Rosario 75 -4.5 79 1.5 103 0.6 90 1.1 83 6.6 103 0.1
Bo Scaife 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 - N/A (Not in football)
Todd Heap 158 4.4 190 1.5 40 -2.3 43 2.2 N/A (Not in football)
Daniel Graham 206 0.4 38 0.7 103 -6.7 4 - N/A (Not in football)
Kevin Boss 311 -0.8 228 1.5 33 -1.5 18 3.6 N/A (Not in football)
Zach J. Miller 537 -0.4 340 0.7 551 1.2 331 1.2 448 0.6 294 1.3

The 2012 class started out well before falling apart the next season:

Signing Team Player 2012 Cap Hit 2012 Value 2012 Surplus 2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
NYG Martellus Bennett $2500000 $4626068 $2126068 $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- $2126068
STL Matthew Mulligan $775000 $2340991 $1565991 $100000 N/A (No longer on team) -$100000 $- $1465991
DEN Jacob Tamme $1500000 $3915697 $2415697 $3250000 $1152235 -$2097765 $- $317932
SD Dante Rosario $700000 $726345 $26345 $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- $26345
PIT Leonard Pope $540000 $46857 -$493143 $- N/A (Not in football $- $- -$493143
TB Dallas Clark $2700000 $1176765 -$1523235 $- N/A (No longer on team) $- $- -$1523235
DEN Joel Dreessen $1666666 $3082228 $1415562 $3666666 $103325 -$3563341 $- -$2147779
KC Kevin Boss $1333333 $84582 -$1248751 $1666667 N/A (No longer on team) -$1666667 $- -$2915418
MIN John Carlson $4000000 $1096864 -$2903136 $2550000 $2200310 -$349690 -$3000000 -$6252827

Martellus Bennett mixed in his typical assortment of stone-handed drops and dubious routes, but still turned in one of the better seasons at the position in 2012 and looks pretty good compared to 2013 stopgap signing Brandon Myers. Matthew Mulligan was one of the position's best blockers in 2012, but was deemed surplus to requirements when the Rams spent big money to bring in Jared Cook.

The Broncos' tandem of Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen easily justified their signings in Year 1 of their deals, but the arrival of Wes Welker and the emergence of Julius Thomas greatly diminished their roles (and apparently reduced Dreessen to a shell of his former self).  John Carlson had already staked a strong claim on "ugliest 2012 tight end contract" before news of Tuesday's release hit the wire to officially close out that particular debacle for the Vikes.

Performance metrics for the 2012 class:

2012 2013
Player Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Yards/ Pass Route Run Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Yards/ Pass Route Run
Martellus Bennett 523 0.6 422 1.5 N/A (No longer on team)
Matthew Mulligan 322 1.7 89 0.9 N/A (No longer on team)
Jacob Tamme 253 -0.9 294 1.9 117 1.5 150 1.2
Dante Rosario 103 0.6 90 1.1 N/A (No longer on team)
Leonard Pope 68 -4.3 14 0.6 N/A (Not in football)
Dallas Clark 204 -2.1 382 1.1 N/A (No longer on team)
Joel Dreessen 589 -0.1 288 1.2 109 -6.3 55 0.9
Kevin Boss 33 -1.5 18 3.6 N/A (Not in football)
John Carlson 146 1.8 109 0.4 288 -0.9 217 1.6

A few, flickering bright spots aside, the 2013 class isn't off to a great start:

2013 Cap Hit 2013 Value 2013 Surplus Remaining Dead Money Total Surplus to Date
NO Ben Watson $1350000 $2857097 $1507097 $- $1507097
CHI Martellus Bennett $1940000 $3790767 $1850767 $- $1850767
NYG Brandon Myers $1125000 $1727472 $602472 $- $602472
TEN Delanie Walker $2950000 $2871206 -$78794 $- -$78794
GB Matthew Mulligan $672941 $322334 -$350607 $- -$350607
STL Jared Cook $4000000 $3570965 -$429035 $- -$429035
CLE Kellen Davis $672941 $109203 -$563738 $- -$563738
CLE Gary Barnidge $1400000 $718610 -$681390 $- -$681390
TB Tom Crabtree $775000 $142973 -$632027 $- -$632027
KC Anthony Fasano $2375000 $1534381 -$840619 $- -$840619
SD John Phillips $1316666 $545367 -$771299 $- -$771299
PIT Matt Spaeth $962500 $62915 -$899585 $- -$899585
MIA Dustin Keller $4250000 $- -$4250000 $- -$4250000

Here's how these guys fared on the field in 2013:

2013
Run Snaps Run Rating / Snap Pass Snaps Yards/ Pass Route Run
Ben Watson 376 0.5 130 1.7
Martellus Bennett 443 -0.9 521 1.5
Brandon Myers 416 -2.1 445 1.2
Delanie Walker 292 0.8 481 1.2
Matthew Mulligan 252 -2.2 40 0.4
Jared Cook 332 -2.1 401 1.7
Kellen Davis 116 -4.6 40 0.8
Gary Barnidge 441 -3 102 1.3
Tom Crabtree 171 -3.9 44 0.5
Anthony Fasano 286 -0.2 236 0.9
John Phillips 205 -1.2 36 0.8
Matt Spaeth 98 -4.4 34 0.3
Dustin Keller N/A (Injured Reserve)

Ben Watson contributed to the re-emergence of the Saints' ground game in 2013, and even chipped in a little receiving value as a complement to Graham. Marty B should stick in Chicago for more than a single season after a solid 2013 debut. His replacement in Gotham, Myers, turned in a so-so campaign that was salvaged by his affordability.

Delanie Walker didn't approach his lofty preseason reception goals, but he could be in line for an even larger receiving role in 2014 that could help nudge him into the green. Jared Cook may have a tougher time reaching that kind of real estate, as he failed to stand out in a mediocre crowd of Rams' receiving weapons. Cook could benefit from St. Louis making a bold move at the QB position, but that would run counter to Jeff Fisher's career goal of seeing how many brutalistic, defense-led .500 campaigns he can turn in before getting fired.

Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge turned in the kind of sludgy, sub-par performances that Browns fans have come to know and despise. Dustin Keller's preseason ACL tear was one of many factors that had Dolphins fans counting the days until the Heat tipped off.

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