Dallas Cowboys Most Overpaid and Underpaid Players
By Jonathan Bales
I recently stated my choices for the Cowboys’ most overrated and underrated players: Gerald Sensabaugh and Kyle Kosier, respectively. Sensabaugh yielded five touchdowns and a 67.4 percent completion rate, while also missing 15.6 percent of tackles. Meanwhile, Kosier allowed just one sack all season. You can click the links above to find out more about why I selected each player.
Those ‘overrated’ and ‘underrated’ designations are nothing more than a math problem:
Actual Value – Public Opinion of Value = Extent to Which Player is Overrated/Underrated
Of course, defining a player’s ‘actual value’ and the value of ‘public opinion’ is quite difficult. To make the determination a bit more objective, I decided to substitute players’ salaries for ‘public opinion.’
Thus, this article will actually be an attempt to decipher the team’s most overpaid and underpaid players. It will invoke a value which I shall label “value-per-million dollars.” In short, each player will be assigned a numerical grade which will result from the following formula:
PFF overall player value / Player’s 2009 cap value = Value-Per-Million
A few notes:
- These values take into account only a player’s 2009 production.
- The salaries used are not entire contracts (as these are sometimes deceiving), but rather the players’ 2009 cap value (as defined by USA Today).
- The specific totals of the player value numbers and final ‘value-per-million’ are irrelevant. The values themselves have no inherent meaning; that comes through a comparison of final values among players.
- Because the ‘actual values’ are efficiency-based, I have removed some of the players without a large sample size of plays. For example, Kevin Ogletree, Michael Hamlin, and John Phillips lead the list of most underpaid players because of small salaries, but their overall production is too minor to match that of, say, Anthony Spencer.
- The lowest-rated player, Roy Williams, was used as a baseline for the other player values (which is why he has a value of zero). Again, the specific numbers are irrelevant.
- If these numbers are any indication, the Cowboys made the right moves in releasing Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin in favor of Doug Free and Alan Ball. Adams and Hamlin checked in as the second and fourth-most overpaid players, while Free and Ball were the fourth and third most-underpaid.
- We all knew Bobby Carpenter was bad, but here is more evidence. He is especially poor because his cap charge wasn’t very much ($2.06 million).
- It is surprising to see Terence Newman on the ‘overpaid’ list. He had an excellent 2009 season, and even PFF rated him as a top-25 cornerback.
- It really speaks to DeMarcus Ware’s dominance that he can make the list of most underpaid players despite a larger cap charge.
- I expected to see Miles Austin as perhaps the most underrated player, but he only checked in at No. 7. Of the players above him, only Ware had a greater cap value.
The point of this article is to gain general insights into the salary cap/player value relationship. It is not without its limitations, of course. First, the formula doesn’t account for age or seasons prior to 2009. Older players such as Keith Brooking aren’t going to break the bank. Nonetheless, Brooking certainly deserves to be on the most underpaid list, as it relates to 2009.
Secondly, obtaining objective player values is extremely difficult. I substituted cap values for ‘public opinion values’ to combat one subjective rating, but another still exists.
Most importantly, the formula may reward low salaries too much. Jason Hatcher, Doug Free, and Alan Ball all played well in 2009, but there is no way they should be ranked ahead of Miles Austin. All three were, however, due to cap charges about one-third that of Austin’s.
Taking these factors into account, here is my personal (more subjective) list of the Cowboys’ most overpaid and underpaid players.
Player/2009 Cap Charge/Dallas Cowboys Times Grade
1. Roy Williams/$5.66 million/D+
2. Bobby Carpenter/$2.06 million/D+
3. Flozell Adams/$3.10 million/C-
4. Patrick Crayton/$2.70 million/C+
5. Ken Hamlin/$5.81 million/B-
6. Marion Barber/$2.62 million/C+
7. Marc Colombo/$2.70 million/C+
1. Miles Austin/$1.55 million/A-
2. Anthony Spencer/$1.42 million/A-
3. Felix Jones/$1.45 million/A-
4. Jay Ratliff/$2.55 million/B+
5. Tashard Choice/$0.50 million/B+
6. Keith Brooking/$1.90 million/B+
7. Deon Anderson/$0.49 million/B-