Falcon Fantom Posted July 21, 2011 Share Posted July 21, 2011 (edited) The Defensive End Coming Off Of A Big YearYou pay for the outlier, you get the regression back towards the mean. It's a phrase tossed around a lot regarding baseball free agents, but it also applies to pass-rushers hitting free agency in the NFL. It's certainly not complicated: Teams who want to improve a dismal pass rush go after the guy with the biggest sack total. It worked for the Bears and Julius Peppers last year, right?At best, the answer is "sort of." Peppers' sack total actually fell from 10.5 with Carolina in 2009 to eight with Chicago last year. And Peppers certainly helped create sack opportunities for the rest of the team while occupying double-teams, but the Bears' sack rate (pass attempts divided by sacks) actually fell from 6.6 percent in 2009 to 5.8 percent with Peppers last year. Meanwhile, Peppers' replacement in Carolina was Charles Johnson, who quietly picked up 11.5 sacks in his first year as a starter.That's pretty consistent with the history of signing prominent pass-rushers like Peppers. When a team has signed or traded for a defensive lineman who produced 10 or more sacks in the season before hitting free agency, it has gotten only an average of 7.1 sacks from that lineman in the subsequent campaign. Only 26 percent of the linemen followed up their 10-sack season with another one in their first campaign with the new team. In fact, 20 percent of the ends weren't able to get past two sacks, thanks to injury or ineffectiveness.It might seem unfair to knock injured players for a lack of production, but it's a subtle facet of free agency that some forget about. When you're paying top dollar for a talented player, part of the reason why is that he was able to stay healthy long enough to get paid. Past health doesn't guarantee much going forward. Consider Chuck Smith, who put up 58.5 sacks in eight seasons with the Falcons. The Panthers signed him to a five-year, $21 million deal before the 2000 season, ignoring an arthritic condition in his knee while pointing to the fact that Smith hadn't missed a game in three seasons. He played in a total of two games with Carolina before his knee forced him to retire. The Panthers replaced him, consequently, by drafting Peppers with the second pick of the 2002 draft.There's one additional piece of counterintuitive advice: Stay away from the proven pass-rushers and lean towards what might look like the flashes in the pan. If we separate these pass-rushers into guys who had hit 10 sacks multiple times before leaving and guys who had achieved that level just once, the latter group actually outproduces the proven veterans. They averaged 9.1 sacks in their first season with their new teams, while the veterans hit an average of just 6.3 sacks. The potential flashes-in-the-pan were naturally younger, which obviously matters when you're paying for future performance.Makes for a good argument. Edwards who has been consistent with 8 sacks or Johnson who has youth coming off a breakout season.2011 free-agent examples: Jason Babin, Charles Johnson Edited July 21, 2011 by Falcon Fantom Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.