Friday, December 18, 2015

A Few Notes on Whether Russell Wilson is "Elite"

Seahawks Pro-Bowl QB Russell Wilson

Earlier this week, soon-to-be Browns ex-head coach Mike Pettine discussed Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ahead of this weekends game and made some disparaging comments about him. Pettine refused to place Wilson in a class along with the so-called "elite" QBs in the NFL, despite all he has accomplished at a much younger age than most of those he named "elite." ESPNs Mike Sando then followed Pettine's criticisms up with his own, adding that un-named GMs (who undeniably passed on Wilson when they had a chance to draft him) give more credit to the Seahawks defense and running game for their success than Wilson.

My standard response to these claims is to point out that Wilson has 104 TD passes in a less-than-four year career, and to simply ask these critics how many of those 104 TD passes the defense or Marshawn Lynch threw? But yesterday my friend Gerald Turner complied a list of records and accomplishments that Wilson holds that is pretty comprehensive, so I'm sharing it here. Hopefully this list and Wilson's recent play puts these critics to bed for the rest of eternity.

But I doubt it. Personally, I feel much of the criticism still leveled at Wilson is because of anti-Christian bigotry on the part of the media. I'm referring specifically to reporters like CBS' Pete Prisco, who earlier this year called fans that defended Wilson's play a "cult."

The truth is, the devoutly faithful Russell Wilson is on track for a Hall-of-Fame career. Here's just a part of why:

Russell Wilson is the first QB in NFL history with a passer rating of over 95.0 in each of his first three seasons.
- Wilson has 24 games with a passer rating of 100+ in his first three seasons...more than any other QB in NFL history. Flacco, Marino, and Palmer are tied for second with 19.

 - Wilson leads all QB’s in the NFL over the last 3 years with 10- 4th quarter comebacks and 15- game-winning drives. No other QB in NFL history has ever done this in their first 3 years.

- He is one of only five players with at least 20 touchdown passes in each of first three seasons.

- Wilson is the first and only QB in the Super Bowl era to have average yards per attempt of 7.6 or better in each of his first three seasons.

- Wilson’s career yards per passing attempt of 7.9 is fourth-best of all QB’s since 1951.

- Wilson is ranked #1 in career postseason yards per attempt. His career average of 9.01 (min. 200 pass attempts) is the highest in NFL history.

- Wilson is the only QB in NFL history to appear in two SB's in his first three seasons.

- Wilson holds the record for most passing yards in a playoff game by a rookie QB with 385 yards. The old record was set in 1937 by Sammy Baugh with 335 yards...that record stood for 75 years.

- Wilson is ranked at #2 in all-time career passer rating (min. 1200 attempts) with a 98.6. Only Aaron Rodgers has a higher career passer rating.

- Wilson's passer rating of 98.6 for a player’s first 3 years is the best in NFL history.

- Including postseason, Wilson's passer rating of 98.5 for a player's first three years is the best in NFL history.

- Wilson's postseason passer rating of 97.8 in his first three years is the best in NFL history.

- Wilson’s career postseason passer rating of 97.8 (min. 200 attempts) is the 5th best in NFL history.

- Wilson's TD% of 5.8% in his first three years is the 2nd highest in NFL history; only Dan Marino is higher with 6.9%.

- Wilson's INT% of 2.1% in his first three years is the lowest of any QB in NFL history.

- Wilson is ranked #2 all-time with a career TD to INT ratio of 2.77 (min. 1200 attempts) behind only Rodgers.

- Wilson is ranked #3 all-time with a career INT rate of only 2.1%, behind only Rodgers and Brady.

- Wilson is the first and only QB in NFL history to throw for 300+ yards and run for 100+ yards (313 & 106) in the same game...against the Rams on 10-19-14.

- Only one QB in NFL history had more than one season with more than 20 TD passes and 10 or fewer interceptions in his first three seasons: Wilson, who has had three such seasons.

- His 72 touchdowns are the seventh-most ever through a player’s first three seasons.

- Including the postseason, Wilson has 84 passing TD's in his first three seasons, 4th-most in NFL history.

- Including the postseason, Wilson has 97 passing and rushing TD's in his first three seasons, 3rd-most in NFL history.

- Wilson is ranked #12 all-time for most passing yards by a QB in his first three years with 9950 yards.

- Including the postseason, Wilson is ranked #5 all-time for passing yards by a QB in his first three years with 11,770 yards.

- Wilson is ranked #5 all-time for most total yards (passing + rushing) by a QB in his first three years with 11,827 yards.

- Including the postseason, Wilson is ranked #2 all-time for most total yards (passing and rushing) by a QB in his first three years with 13,902 yards.

- Wilson has the 2nd highest career yards per attempt in SB history with 9.85 yards, behind only Terry Bradshaw.

- Wilson has the 3rd highest career passer rating in SB history with a 117.39, behind only Joe Montana and Jim Plunkett.

- Wilson has the 6th highest career completion % in SB history with 65.22%.

- Wilson has the 4th highest yards per attempt in a SB game with 11.76 yards in SB49.

- Wilson's 1,877 rushing yards is second-most by a QB in the modern era through three seasons behind Cam Newton's 2,032 yards.

- Including the postseason, Wilson has the most rushing yards for a QB in NFL history in his first three seasons with 2,132 yards.

- Wilson led all NFL rushers in 2014 with an average of 7.2 yards per carry.

- Wilson has a record of having had a lead at some point in 56 straight games since 2012...the old record was 45 games...Also, in those 56 games, Wilson has never lost an NFL game by more than 9 points.

- Wilson has won 36 games in his first 3 seasons; three more than any other QB in NFL history.

 - Including the postseason, Wilson has won 42 games in his first three seasons; 6 more than any other QB in NFL history.

Yesterday, Fox Sports Radio's Colin Cowherd chimed in with some common sense opinions on Wilson. It was refreshing to hear:

"I think he's the smartest, most instinctive quarterback I've ever seen" - Colin Cowherd on Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. #HerdHere
Posted by The Herd on Thursday, December 17, 2015

Friday, June 13, 2014

Arizona Cardinals 2015 Salary Cap Projections

Larry Fitzgerald
The Cardinals are in the worst shape of all the NFC West teams, primarily because of Larry Fitzgerald’s ridiculous $23,600,000 cap figure. At $5,032,732 OVER the $140 million dollar 2015 salary cap, the Cardinals will have to cut somebody or restructure some contracts just to get under the cap. Simply cutting Fitzgerald would result in a $9,200,000 cap savings, and would get them at least $5 million under the cap (give or take). The Cardinals have 7 players over the magic $6 million dollar cap number for 2015. They are:
Larry Fitzgerald - $23,600,000
Calais Campbell - $14,750,000
Carson Palmer - $12,000,000
Patrick Peterson - $10,081,000
Darnell Dockett - $9,800,000
Jared Veldheer - $7,750,000
Daryl Washington - $6,500,000

Of this group, Fitzgerald, Palmer and Washington are obviously overpaid. One, two ore all 3 probably should go, but Palmer will likely survive simply because the Cardinals don’t have anyone else at the QB position. With Peterson’s base salary fully guaranteed, it’s hard to see any motivation on the Cardinals part to extend him. At 33, Dockett will have continue to play at a very high level to justify his $9.8 million dollar cap hit.

Overall, the Cardinals could dump Fitz, Palmer and Dockett and find themselves $21 million under the cap for 2015, as opposed to $5 million OVER it. Unless they want to restructure and invest large sums of cap space in players over 30, 2015 looks like a transitional year in Arizona.

St. Louis Rams 2015 Salary Cap Projections

Rams defensive back Janoris Jenkins in action.

Like the Seahawks, the Rams are in a very good cap situation for 2015. They stand $22.5 million dollars UNDER the estimated $140 million dollar salary cap. The difference is the Rams have a far less talented roster, and will probably have to use that space to improve it. Fortunately they can. The Rams have only 7 players over the magic $6 million dollar cap figure for 2015. They are:

Sam Bradford - $16,580,000
Chris Long - $11,500,000
Jake Long - $10,500,000
Rodger Saffold - $8,000,000
Jared Cook - $8,000,000
Kendall Langford - $7,000,000
Robert Quinn - $6,969,000

Of this group, only Quinn and maybe Chris Long are justifiable as $6 million dollar-plus players. Sam Bradford has failed to live up to his contract or his #1 overall draft status. This is a make or break year for him, one would think. 2015 is his last year under his rookie deal and the Rams could save $12,985,000 by cutting him. If Bradford is kept at his ridiculous cap figure for 2015 I would expect the Rams to draft a QB high in next year’s draft.  Likewise, Chris Long is a good player, but he is way overvalued at a cap figure of $11.5 million. His cap number for 2016 isn’t much better, so he would be a candidate for an extension to spread his cap hit over a longer period if the Rams choose to keep him. Jake Long, Roger Saffold, Jared Cook and Kendall Langford are just average starters earning Pro Bowl level salaries. They could all be cut for big cap savings if the Rams choose to go that way. Cutting Bradford, both Long’s and Langford after this season would clear another $35.5 million in cap space, giving the Rams over $50 million in 2015 cap room to go after better players.

Overall, the Rams are an under-talented team with serious questions at quarterback, offensive line, and several other positions. They could theoretically use the cap space they have to upgrade a weak roster. They do not face a serious cap problem in the next few years. The question is if the Jeff Fisher regime is the right one to spend that money.


Sunday, June 08, 2014

Seattle Seahawks 2015 Salary Cap Projections

Seahawks Super Bowl Winning QB Russell Wilson.
Compared to the 49ers, the Seahawks conversely are in a much better salary cap situation for 2015. As of now they are $23,191,723 UNDER the projected $140 million dollar salary cap, with really only Russell Wilson, Cliff Avril, KJ Wright and Byron Maxwell out of contract as far as starters go. $23 million might actually be enough to keep them all, as Wilson’s cap hit will at worst be in the $8-9 million dollar range. The only player who would count as a cap hit as opposed to a cap savings if cut would be Earl Thomas, who would count as a $5,700,000 cap hit if they cut him, but we all know they aren’t doing that. Even cutting Percy Harvin would save $5,700,000 under the cap after the huge deal they gave him.

Here are the Seahawks “Over $6 million Club” members for 2015:

Percy Harvin - $12,900,000
Richard Sherman - $12,200,000
Marshawn Lynch - $9,000,000
Michael Bennett - $8,000,000
Earl Thomas - $7,400,000
Russell Okung - $7,280,000

Obviously, Wilson will go straight to the top of this list when he signs his new deal.

The only real question mark in here is Lynch. But it’s not a question of do we HAVE to cut this guy to save money under the cap? They won’t. It will be more of a question of do they want to pay $9 million under the cap to a 29 year old back? Lynch could choose to take a moderate pay cut or a simple restructuring to stay with the team. $9 million is a lot to pay a running back these days, even if he has a unique skill set and should be a Future hall of Famer, as I believe Lynch is. The key thing to watch is how many carries Christine Michael gets and if he can handle the load and the pounding. If he does or if Lynch declines or gets hurt for the first time in his career, he’s probably gone. But if he still performs at a Marshawn Lynch level and stays healthy, I’d expect he might be back in 2015. We’ll see.

Other than that, the Seahawks really are facing no cap issues in 2015. It looks like they can keep all their starters if they want to, and redo or extend some guys in future years if they want to sign outside players.

San Francisco 49ers 2015 Salary Cap Projections

49ers star receiver Michael Crabtree.
Having finished my new book, I was bored and decided to go over some salary cap stuff for the teams in the NFC West. I started with 49ers because their situation is a bit more interesting, frankly. According to, because of Colin Kaepernick’s new deal, the 49ers are $5,289,517 OVER the estimated salary cap of $140 million for 2015. Now, a lot of people think the cap will actually grow to be much more than that, around $145 million by the time they get done calculating, so that would leave the 49ers only about $300K over the cap. This assumes they let Frank Gore walk. Michael "medicore" Crabtree is not included because he will be a free agent unless he signs an in-season extension. Where it gets really interesting is in looking at the highest paid players on the roster. Generally, the magic number for your star players is considered to be a $6 million dollar cap hit, and as of now the 49ers have 11 players at or around that magic number for 2015.

They are:
QB Colin Kaepernick   - $17,265,600
DE Aldon Smith - $9,754,000
LB Patrick Willis - $8,736,750
LB NaVorro Bowman - $8,404,000
LB Ahmad Brooks - $8,350,000
TE Vernon Davis - $7,017,920
WR Anquan Boldin - $6,909,000
OT Anthony Davis - $6,716,670
DT Justin Smith - $6,436,668
WR Steve Johnson - $6,025,000
DE Ray McDonald - $5,946,985

That totals out to $91,562,593, or about 65% of the 49ers cap is tied up in these 11 players. Of these, Justin Smith, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, Ahmad Brooks and Ray McDonald are over 30, with Patrick Willis fast approaching 30.

But it gets more interesting when you look at the cap charge gains/losses. The fact is if the 49ers want to do extensions or sign new players next year, they’ll have to do some cutting out of this group. Simple restructurings could help, but that just passes the bucks into later years. However, the 49ers have over $41 million in space in 2016, so that is an option.

In looking at this group, there are a couple players who are obviously safe. Kaepernick just signed his deal, and will have at least 2 years to prove he’s worth it, I would think. He can be cut at any time for a huge cape savings ($7,403,200 if they cut him after this year), and it goes up every year of his deal. Cutting Anthony Davis would only save $350,000, and Bowman only $388,000, so unless they go Aaron Hernandez on somebody they are safe.

The biggest cap savings with no dead money ($9,754,000) could be had by cutting DE Aldon Smith. Based on this, I would expect he is on a very short leash and if he fucks up one more time, I’d bet he’s out the door right after the season ends. Then you have to look at the older players. Anquan Boldin will be 34 after the season ends, and the 49ers could save $3,273,000 under the cap by letting him go. Justin Smith will be 35 this year, and releasing him after the season ends would save $4,250,000, Those 2 moves alone would get the 49ers under the cap but not with a lot of wiggle room.

The 2nd biggest savings after cutting Smith would be releasing Patrick Willis. Cutting him would free up almost $8 million ($7,893,250) in cap space all by itself. Likewise, letting Ahmad Brooks go would save a cool $5,350,000, but I doubt they would do that. An even bigger chunk would be saved by cutting Stevie Johnson. With no dead money ramifications, they would save his full $6,025,000 salary against the cap. It’s safe to say Johnson is on a 1-year make it or break it deal.

So to sum it up, cutting Justin Smith, Boldin and Johnson would get the 49ers about 13.5 million in cap savings, making them about $8.25 million under the cap in the worst case scenario, more than enough to keep Crabtree and get a few new players. Obviously, letting Aldon smith go would create even more breathing room and rid the team of a headache that’s not likely to go way. I would have to say that at 30 years old, Patrick Willis and Ray McDonald are on the bubble too, but overall, the team is pretty good shape. Except for McDonald, most of your big cap money is in your core players, but you’ll probably need to do some trimming after this year.