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PFF’s Best Contracts – Top 5 NFL running back 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 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.
Over the course of his five-year career, Riddick has seen an NFL passer rating of 108.2 on targeted throws, and he has produced a PFF receiver grade of at least 80.0 in three of the past four seasons.
With his ability to do damage out of the backfield and lined up in the slot or out wide, Johnson was one of the most valuable running backs in football in 2017 with a WAR rating of 0.80.
In a league that is valuing playmaking receivers more and more, Johnson ranked fourth with a PFF receiving grade of 89.4 last year.
He’s not going to be the running back you want to see 300 carries from in a season, but instead he’s a solid player you can use to spell your starter.
Lewis signed a deal with the Titans as a free agent, and his ability to find success beyond the help of his blockers to go along with an average of just $1.4 million per year guaranteed makes him great value in Tennessee.

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Dec 24, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) hands the ball off to running back Theo Riddick (25) against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-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…

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