What numbers, data and analytics are used to support making that deal?
“The numbers that you really have to work off are actual production -- tackles, assists, sacks, quarterback hurries, quarterback pressures. Then you have to look at the player within the scheme of how he is actually used,” Caserio answered.
“So in Akeem’s situation, he played off the line of scrimmage in college [at UCLA]. He played on the line of scrimmage a little bit, but he was [mostly] playing from a two-point stance. Then he started 40 some-odd games for the Titans his first three years, played as an off the line of scrimmage linebacker. They made a coaching change [in his fourth season], a scheme change, so it just didn’t happen to work out.
“So really what you do, you go back -- and this is where your draft process merges with your pro personnel evaluation process -- to college and go through your reports and ‘how did we evaluate this player coming out?’ Here are the metrics we used. That’s when you can go back and look at the size [and] speed, sort the measurables he had and look at his actual production, and then look at what happened in the NFL and whether or not it is a match and makes sense.
“You’re taking previous information that you’ve accumulated with information that is happening in the league, and ultimately making the decision. In the end, it was just kind of a mismatch probably between scheme and what he was asked to do.
“When we got Akeem, we weren’t quite exactly sure how it would go, because until you actually have the player you’re not sure how it’s going to work out. He showed his versatility and we were able to use him in a multitude of roles and he was able to benefit the team as a result. We were fortunate that it worked out the way it did.”
Later in the panel, Caserio shared an interesting analytics-based nugget on Chandler Jones in the 2012 draft process.
Caserio shared that Jones' height and weight met the team's standards, as did his arm length, while his 10-yard split was a bit lower than desired. While those things were easier to quantify, Caserio then noted how Jones' ability to play with leverage, bend and collapse the pocket was much tougher to quantify from a data perspective.
Player: Stevan Ridley
Position: Running back
Age: 26 (birthday: Jan. 27, 1989)
Assessing the market: If Ridley wasn't coming off the torn ACL,Toby Gerhart's three-year, $10.5 million pact with the Jaguars in 2014 would be the range of the projected market. But the ACL clouds the picture slightly. One possible comparable is the one-year, $1.1 million contract Ahmad Bradshaw signed with the Colts in 2013. Bradshaw was coming off foot surgery in January of that year. If not for Ridley's injury, we'd also point to the one-year, $3 million pact Knowshon Moreno inked with the Dolphins last year ($500,000 signing bonus), as well as Chris Ivory's three-year, $6 million deal with the Jets, signed in 2013, that included a $2.25 million signing bonus. Shonn Greene's three-year, $10 million pact with Tennessee in 2013, which included a $2.5 million signing bonus, also is part of the market, as is Pierre Thomas' two-year Saints extension from 2014 that averages $2 million per season and included a $1.245 million signing bonus. LeGarrette Blount's two deals from 2014 are notable to a lesser degree -- his two-year, $3.85 million pact with the Steelers ($950,000 guaranteed) and then the two-year, $1.73 million pact with the Patriots after he was waived that included a $250,000 roster bonus in the second year.
Our take on Ridley's value: At a position where there aren't traditionally big deals, Ridley could be a coup for a team willing to bet on his ACL recovery. If he's thinking along the lines of a "prove-it" one-year deal, in which he can show he's healthy and still productive before getting another crack at free agency in 2016, that type of setup can be beneficial for both the player and team as long as they are working off the same script.
Projected contract: One year, $1.25 million; includes $250,000 signing bonus. Additional $1.75 million in incentives to potentially increase overall value to $3 million, which is market rate for a starting-caliber rusher.
“I’m excited about it,” Ridley told co-hosts Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan. “As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract.
“Where I’ll be playing, and who I’ll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I’ve come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent’s hands to get me on another team, or stay where I’m at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick.”
“I take what I do to heart. It’s not really all about the dollar bill to me. Of course, every player wants to be paid for the work they’ve put in, but to me it’s bigger than that,” he said. “I think you see a lot of guys that work hard and get to that second contract and they kind of get complacent. With me, I believe the Lord takes you through certain things to develop you as a person and you really find out who you are. For me to have this injury going into my contract year, I really think that is going to make me that much more hungry going into this next season. I have something to prove. I have something to play for.”
Ridley expressed confidence in what he can do on the field in 2015.
“I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can’t be a very productive player on whatever team I land on,” he said. “I’ve been playing ball my whole life, I’m going to come in and be a leader, and I’m going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I’m a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it’s all business and I plan on going out there and making plays.”
Asked what’s important to him in the free-agent process, Ridley went with the bottom-line answer of simply having an opportunity to play.
“Being in New England the last four years, four AFC Championships, two Super Bowl [appearances], that’s really hard to replace, to go to another team somewhere,” he said. “But going to another team could mean more opportunities, and could mean more carries, and could mean another team that doesn’t have the winning tradition that is up in New England and has been established there.
“So for me, really I just want to be playing ball somewhere. That’s the big thing. That’s what I have to rely on my agent and make sure I have the right people around me to put me in that position. So I’m not really worried about where. I just want to be playing ball somewhere. I know that. ”
Three other sound bites from Ridley’s interview:
Coached by Ivan Fears the last four years: “He’s been there as long as the dinosaurs have been around. I don’t think he’s really going anywhere. I’d love to be there, love to be part of that program. It’s been an awesome experience. Coach Fears is a great coach and he taught me a lot about the pro level.”
Playing with Patriots teammates: “I love my guys. I love who I play with. Tom Brady, regardless of his age, is the best quarterback in the game of football right now. You look at my tight end with [Rob] Gronkowski. You look at my wide receiver out wide, Julian Edelman, you look at Danny Amendola, you look at my college teammate [at LSU] Brandon LaFell. It’s pieces around. Not to mention it’s a solid offensive line up front. So that all plays a part in being a productive running back. You can’t get it done by yourself. You have to have pieces around you if you want to be a good player in this league. … When you have weapons around you, and coaches that put you in a position to win like Coach Belichick, like Josh McDaniels, it makes your job a lot easier.”
Setting the individual benchmark for each game: “My personal goal, week in and week out is to have 100 yards on the ground, man. That’s what I try to set myself up for. If I don’t have 100 yards, I’m not happy. That’s been my goal since junior high. … Every game that is under 100 yards, I look at it as a failure. … My best season was my second season, when I actually got the opportunities and I got the carries and the touches that I could [to] be the back that I know I am. I feel like I can be a 1,000-yard back every year if I just get the opportunities. But that’s not always my call and I’m a team guy first. It’s not about my individual stats as long as we’re getting that W at the end of the day.”
NFL.com and Rotoworld have produced their lists, and here are a few takeaways:
Devin McCourty: No. 6. NFL.com puts McCourty as the sixth overall free agent in the category of "difference maker." McCourty is the top-rated safety in Rotoworld's position-specific rankings.
Shane Vereen: The running back checks in at No. 51 on NFL.com's overall list and is referred to as "basically a younger version of Reggie Bush right now", while viewed as the seventh-rated running back by Rotoworld.
Stephen Gostkowski: Kicker is slotted at No. 63, and the top player at the position in both rankings.
Akeem Ayers: Defensive end/linebacker lands at No. 83 on NFL.com's rankings, and 12th in Rotoworld's edge-defender rankings. One thought: Had he not been traded to New England from the Tennessee Titans, would he even crack the top 100?
Stevan Ridley: Despite coming off a torn ACL, Ridley lands at No. 86 on NFL.com's list, while Rotoworld has him as the eighth-rated player at the position.
NOTES: Darrelle Revis is not part of either list because he's technically under contract for 2015. ... Defensive tackle Alan Branch (18th) got Rotoworld's nod over former Patriot Tommy Kelly (22nd). ... Former Patriots Brandon Spikes (47th, NFL.com), Ryan Mallett (64th, NFL.com) and Brian Hoyer (70th, NFL.com) caught the eye, as did linebacker Dane Fletcher (No. 12 ILB, Rotoworld). ... Patriots linebacker Jonathan Casillas lands at No. 5 on Rotoworld's listing of 4-3 outside linebackers, while Dan Connolly is the 16th-rated guard.
FALL RIVER, Mass. -- Texts and phone records shown to jurors Friday in the murder trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez showed that several messages he exchanged with a co-defendant before the killing were deleted from his phone.
Evidence presented to the jury Friday also showed multiple calls placed from the phone of co-defendant Ernest Wallace to the victim, Odin Lloyd, in the hours before he was killed, including the same minute that Lloyd was seen getting into a car outside his home about an hour before he died early on June 17, 2013.
The records showed that Hernandez, at times using his lawyer's phone, called Wallace repeatedly the night of June 17 after police had gone to his home and asked him to come to the station while they investigated Lloyd's death.
Ricardo Leal, who works for the phone company Sprint, testified for 3.5 hours Friday.
Prosecutor Patrick Bomberg went through dozens of nondeleted text messages Hernandez exchanged with Wallace in the days surrounding the killing. Prosecutors have previously said Lloyd sent his last text to his sister at 3:23 a.m. and was killed within minutes, shot to death at an industrial park near Hernandez's home in North Atteborough.
Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.
Wallace and a third man, Carlos Ortiz, are also charged and have pleaded not guilty. They will be tried separately. Prosecutors have said Hernandez orchestrated the killing.
Bomberg on Friday showed the jury several texts from Hernandez to Wallace hours before the killing in which Hernandez pushed Wallace to come see him.
One, at 9:02 p.m., said "Please make it back Cuz Im Def trying to step for a little." Another, at 10:23 p.m., told him to "hurry up" with a couple of expletives.
“It feels good. Seeing it sometimes, I’m like ‘Damn, he caught that. Thank you Malcolm!’” Chung said to host Rhett Lewis.
Here were a few other sound bites from his interview:
On Butler’s interception. “I’m on the sideline and we’re in goal-line, three-corner. It actually happened fast. It was like ‘Boom!’ and I was like, ‘Did he catch that?’ He took off sprinting, had tears in his eyes, and then I was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re a hero, bro.’”
Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis as free agents. “They are two great players. Whatever happens, happens. I would love to have them both. … To have players out there like [Revis] who can pretty much take away receivers, then you have Dev that is taking away deep middle; we have a complementary team and it would be good to have those guys back.”
More on McCourty and the defensive backfield. “The more you can do, the better. We have a good group of DBs, not just the guys you’ve mentioned. It’s a group of DBs that can do a lot of things -- cover, tackle, play special teams.”
Age: 32 (birthday: Sept. 2, 1982)
Credentials: Team captain who plays all three interior positions. Steadying, intelligent presence whose shift to left guard helped solidify the offensive line in 2014 while also helping left tackle Nate Solder. Has big-game experience. Athletic and often effective when pulling. Injury history is a consideration as he's played the full 16-game schedule just once in his nine-year career (89 regular-season games, 71 starts), but also has shown the toughness to play through injuries.
Assessing the market: Veteran Minnesota Vikings guard Charlie Johnson signed a two-year deal that averaged $2.5 million per season in 2014. There was no signing bonus, but the deal included a $1.5 million roster bonus. Another veteran guard, Richie Incognito, signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Buffalo Bills on Feb. 9. That is a different type of situation with Incognito coming off suspension, but it is still a small part of the veteran guard market. In 2014, Patriots center/guard Ryan Wendell signed a two-year deal averaging $1.625 million per season with an $850,000 signing bonus. On the high end, Chicago Bears guard Matt Slauson signed a four-year deal in 2014 with an average of $3.2 million per season and $4.9 million in bonuses and guarantees.
Our take on Connolly's value: The first question is if Connolly plans to keep playing. If he does, he is a starting-caliber player who should fall in line with something similar to what Wendell earned in 2014.
Projected contract: Two years, $4 million with a $1 million signing bonus.
Here is a contract proposal for McCourty that could possibly work for both sides:
Terms: Five years, $45 million
Signing bonus: $10 million
Base salary: $5 million (guaranteed)
Cap figure: $7 million
Base salary: $6 million (guaranteed)
Cap figure: $8 million
Base salary: $7 million ($1 million guaranteed)
Cap figure: $9 million
Base salary: $8 million
Cap figure: $10 million
Base salary: $9 million
Cap figure: $11 million
We're not getting too detailed with bonuses and incentives in this exercise, so the purpose is to keep the proposals straight-forward to highlight what is viewed as market value and a general concept of what might work for both sides. This deal, averaging $9 million per season, would tie McCourty for the No. 2 spot in terms of average-per-year at the safety position. By paying him $15 million in the first year (between signing bonus and base salary), it is about $5.5 million more than the projected $9.5 million franchise tag he'd receive on a one-year deal. So the concept there is to create an incentive for the player to want to sign a long-term deal when compared to playing on the tag.
From the team side, the cap charges are below the projected 2015 franchise tag for the first three years of the pact, which provides flexibility for the club. If the team would like to lower those charges, another option is to increase the signing bonus (which is prorated over five years) and lower the base salaries in the earlier years of the pact.
It's similar in structure to our five-year proposal and includes the same option bonus after the third season. Corry's bonuses and guarantees within the first three years are slightly higher at $46.5 million, while the total value of the deal was $85 million (compared to $80 million in our deal).
It will be interesting to see how close these projections hit the actual market for Revis.
But in this case, it was fun to be able to compare two contract proposals -- one from a reporter, one from a former agent -- and see how they stack up both in concept and bottom-line dollars.
1. Darrelle Revis and where things stand with his potential return. Ditto for Devin McCourty, Shane Vereen, Dan Connolly and Stephen Gostkowski.
2. Underinflated footballs and the NFL's investigation.
3. Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace and the idea of supplementing the wide receiving corps in some form.
4. Running back Tyler Gaffney and expectations for 2015.
5. What if Malcolm Butler didn't intercept the pass at the end of Super Bowl XLIX?
6. Vince Wilfork, Haloti Ngata and how the end of those players' careers with one team can be tricky.
7. Identifying four possible targets in free agency from other teams: OLB Jabaal Sheard, TE Lance Kendricks, RB Reggie Bush and LB Colin McCarthy.
A few thoughts:
- Bush, who turns 30 on March 2, would project to the same type of role in the Patriots' offense as Vereen. He is still a top pass-catching back when healthy and that is something the Patriots value highly. Bush had 94 receptions over the past two seasons, while Vereen had 99. Vereen turns 26 on March 2 (sharing the same birthday as Bush).
- If the price was equal, Vereen would be the choice because he's younger and already a proven fit in the offense. But the price likely wouldn't be equal, with Vereen -- from this viewpoint -- in position to command more because he's entering his prime years. So then the question becomes something like this, "Would you rather have Vereen over the next four years at around $4 million per season, or Bush for the next one or two seasons at possibly around half that total?"
- Offensive coaches Brian Daboll and Dave DeGuglielmo have a history with Bush, having coached him in 2011 with the Dolphins. Any time a player has a history with a member of the coaching staff, and that history is a productive one, it is notable.
- Timing could be a factor, as free agency begins March 10. If the Patriots have a sense they might lose Vereen regardless, would that expedite talks with Bush as a possible replacement?
This is part of the fun of covering an NFL team, and attempting to view things from a management perspective.
The sudden availability of Bush, as it relates to Vereen, sparked these thoughts.
FALL RIVER, Mass. -- Ex-New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez ran up a $243 bar tab and smoked marijuana in the hours before the boyfriend of his fiancee's sister was shot to death, according to testimony Thursday at his murder trial.
Just over an hour before the killing of Odin Lloyd on June 17, 2013, video surveillance shows Hernandez walking unsteadily at a gas station and dancing near the gas pumps.
The video also shows a co-defendant, Carlos Ortiz, wearing a white towel around his shoulders. A white towel was found near Lloyd's body later that morning in an industrial park not far from Hernandez's home. Prosecutors haven't said who shot Lloyd but said Hernandez orchestrated the killing.
Ortiz and another co-defendant, Ernest Wallace, have pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.
Thursday's testimony began with an account from Kelly Rose Belanger, who was bar manager at South Street Cafe in Providence, Rhode Island, on June 16, 2013, which was Father's Day. Another woman, Vanessa Sanchez, testified Wednesday that she was among the six people in the group, which included Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez's fiancee and the mother of his child. Sanchez said Hernandez proposed a toast to Father's Day, and the three couples there talked a lot about their children.
Prosecutors displayed a receipt from that night that showed the tab included 30 alcoholic drinks: 11 Hennessy cognacs, 10 "Sex on the Beach" mixed vodka drinks, seven Bud Lights and two Grey Goose vodkas.
During the evening, Belanger said, Hernandez left the bar several times with one of the men he was with. She could smell marijuana and looked outside and saw Hernandez and the other man smoking it. She asked them to stop, and they did, she said.
Hernandez paid the $243 tab at 12:19 a.m. on June 17, leaving a $30 tip, Belanger said.
Player: Devin McCourty
Age: 27 (birthday: August 13, 1987)
Assessing the market: Seattle's Earl Thomas sets the standard at safety, with his deal averaging $10 million per season. He signed that pact in 2014, adding four years to the end of his existing deal, and it included $25.7 million in bonuses and guarantees. The Saints signed Jairus Byrd to a free-agent deal in 2014 that averaged $9 million per season and included $26.3 million in bonuses and guarantees; that looks like an overpay situation at this point, but it still shapes the market. Eric Berry (Chiefs, $8.3 million per season, rookie deal signed in 2010), Dashon Goldson (Buccaneers, $8.25 million per season, $17.5 million in bonuses/guarantees, signed in 2013), and Eric Weddle (Chargers, $8 million per season, $19 million in bonuses/guarantees, signed in 2011) round out the top five. McCourty's brother, Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, signed an extension in 2012 that averages $8.6 million per season and included $17 million in bonuses/guarantees.
Our take on McCourty's value: Entering his prime years, he's in a position of strength. Furthermore, in a year where the draft class is weak at safety, and the free-agent class isn't deep, McCourty is easily the top-rated player at the position. This increases the likelihood, from this viewpoint, that the club would be more inclined to assign the franchise tag (estimated at $9.5 million) to him in the event the sides couldn't hammer out an extension. McCourty is a unique player when it comes to assessing his value because of his corner-safety combo skills. Those are really two different financial markets. Thus, it might require some creativity as there isn't a clear-cut comparable.
Projected contract: Five years, $45 million ($10 million signing bonus, with additional $12 million in guaranteed base salaries)
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was the first player to be featured, on Tuesday cornerback Darrelle Revis was the featured player, and on Wednesday it was running back Shane Vereen in the spotlight.
Here is a contract proposal for Vereen that could possibly work for both sides:
Terms: Four years, $16 million
Signing bonus: $4 million
Base salary: $1.5 million
Cap figure: $2.5 million
Base salary: $2.5 million
Cap figure: $3.5 million
Base salary: $3.5 million
Cap figure: $4.5 million
Base salary: $4.5 million
Cap figure: $5.5 million
This is a straight-forward deal that was drafted using the contract signed by Detroit's Reggie Bush in 2013 as a foundation. It pays Vereen $5.5 million in the first year, which is a slight increase from Bush, who was paid $5 million in his first year ($4 million signing bonus, $1 million base salary). The slight increase is a result of it now being two years later and the salary cap having risen since that time. Vereen's $4 million average per year is also an increase from the deals signed by Donald Brown (2014) and Darren Sproles (2013), who could be viewed as comparable players in certain ways. Vereen's value to the Patriots will be determined, in part, with how the club views 2014 fourth-round pick James White as a possible replacement.