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PFF’s Best Contracts – Top 5 NFL safety 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 contract data comes from overthecap.com.
Heath started 15 games for the Cowboys in 2017, and he produced his best season so far in coverage.
One of the best safeties of the PFF era, Weddle represents great value for the Ravens, with just $2.25 million per year of his salary guaranteed.
Using the weekly filters in Premium Stats, you can see that from Weeks 1 through 7, Weddle ranked 67th among safeties to play at least 100 snaps, producing a PFF grade of just 57.5.
From Week 8 through the end of the year, however, his PFF grade of 81.9 ranked ninth at the position, while he missed just three tackles during that period.
His PFF run-defense grade has been 70.0 or higher since 2014, so expect him to make an impact at strong safety for the Steelers.
A force in the box, Chung has racked up 124 tackles resulting in a defensive stop over the past four seasons, and he has produced a PFF grade of 70.6 or higher in three of those four years.
He’s been solid in coverage too, posting PFF coverage grades of 70.9 or higher in three of the past four seasons, and he has missed 11 or fewer tackles in all but one of his nine seasons.

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Aug 10, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens strong safety Eric Weddle (32) during the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-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 safety contracts headed into the 2018 NFL season:

An undrafted…

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