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PFF’s Best Contracts – Top 5 NFL edge defender 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.
Are teams paying the premium for top-notch players at each position?
All contract data comes from overthecap.com.
He had somewhat of a down year based on his previous play in 2017, producing a pass-rushing productivity rating of just 6.3, which was T-53rd among edge defenders with at least 100 pass-rushing snaps.
Sheard has recorded at least 40 combined sacks, hits or hurries in each of the past three seasons, tallying 60 or more total pressures in two of his last three seasons.
One of the best edge defenders in the NFL, Jordan produced a career year in 2017.
Jordan improved his PFF defense grade for the second year in a row – 90.0 in 2016 to a 91.2 last season.
In 2017, he posted career bests in multiple facets, including total pressures (88), batted passes (12), and run defense grade (86.7).
Campbell only signed his free-agent deal last offseason, but his level of play exceeds that value, producing a Wins Above Replacement score of 1.12 on average over the past three seasons.

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Oct 15, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) in the second half against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-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 edge defender contracts headed into the 2018 NFL…

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