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PFF’s Best Contracts – Top 5 NFL defensive interior contracts for 2018

To qualify for this study, a player must be at least one year into their second contract in the league, under contract for at least the 2018 and 2019 seasons and logged at least 1,000 snaps over the past three seasons.
Combining all of the data with PFF grades from Premium Stats 2.0, the question still remained: Which NFL players at each position produced top-level WAR values, based on the amount of guaranteed money per season and the amount of money they’ll be due after the 2018 calendar year?
All of that information granted us the ability to isolate a player’s three-year average WAR value over their guaranteed salary (both this season and remaining) to take a look at which players are signed to the best contracts at their positions, with respect to their peers.
His Wins Above Replacement average over the past three years comes in at 1.20, meaning that despite an average yearly salary of $9.25 million, he is still the best value contract among players on the defensive interior.
In each of the past two seasons, he has been our highest-graded run defender at the position.
Contract details: Total Value: $41,000,000 Total Guaranteed: $12,000,000 Average Guaranteed Per Year: $3,000,000 Percentage Guaranteed: 29% Free Agent Year: 2020 3-Year Average WAR: 0.91 Daniels is a solid pass-rusher, registering 17 sacks, 22 hits and 55 hurries over the past three seasons, but he’s an even better run defender for the Packers.
Over the past four seasons, he has produced a PFF run-defense grade of 77.7 or better in every season.
In 2017, he ranked 13th among all interior defensive linemen with a 11.9 run-stop percentage, with 32 tackles resulting in a defensive stop from 269 snaps against the run in the regular season.
Unrein was our 15th-highest graded player on the defensive interior in 2017 with a PFF grade of 85.7, and was ranked eighth among all interior defensive linemen with an 89.4 run-defense grade.
A monster against the run, Joseph ranked 12th among interior defensive linemen with a 12.1 run-stop percentage a year ago, with 35 tackles resulting in a defensive stop from 289 snaps against the run.

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Oct 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) throws under pressure from New York Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison Sr. (98) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, NFL teams sign marquee free agents at every position while they draft younger players to fill other holes in their roster. Contract language sometimes delays even the most “NFL-ready” rookies while other disputes in contracts take centerstage during the league’s offseason periods (see Roquan Smith, Le’Veon Bell, respectively).

With all that in mind, we at PFF have devised a method of looking at the league’s best contracts as we enter the 2018 NFL season. We wanted to know which teams have the league’s best players under the lowest amount of guaranteed, annual money and which of those athletes had been standouts at their respective positions. To do so, we utilized our data scientists Eric Eager & George Chahrouri‘s recently revealed Wins Above Replacement metrics for every NFL player who has signed a contract after their rookie deal.

To qualify for this study, a player must be at least one year into their second contract in the league, under contract for at least the 2018 and 2019 seasons and logged at least 1,000 snaps over the past three seasons.

Combining all of the data with PFF grades from Premium Stats 2.0, the question still remained: Which NFL players at each position produced top-level WAR values, based on the amount of guaranteed money per season and the amount of money they’ll be due after the 2018 calendar year? The formula developed was essentially that, and the results were very appealing. Are teams paying the premium for top-notch players at each position? Are there individuals who are currently outplaying their contract value?

All of that information granted us the ability to isolate a player’s three-year average WAR value over their guaranteed salary (both this season and remaining) to take a look at which players are signed to the best contracts at their positions, with respect to their peers. All contract data comes from overthecap.com.

Here are the top five defensive interior linemen contracts headed into the 2018 NFL season:

Contract details:

Total Value: $46,250,000
Total Guaranteed: $20,000,000
Average Guaranteed Per Year: $4,000,000
Percentage Guaranteed: 43%
Free Agent Year: 2021
3-Year Average WAR: 1.20

Harrison might be primarily a run defender, but the level to which he dominates the run is startling. His Wins Above Replacement average over the past…

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