A players’ previous performance statistics, age, health, film grade, team needs, and projected scheme fit all factor into determining how much money a team is willing to offer a free agent. Generally, a starting point for determining a players value is taking a players’ past production and extrapolating it into the future depending on the players age. This is by no means a complete analysis for any player. Sometimes very talented players lack production in one scheme and go on to produce at a high level in a different scheme where they are a better fit. Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders are just two examples of receivers who saw massive increases in production after changing teams. That said, on field production is a good place to start and a players’ past production is the most predictive single variable for future performance.
Below I list some notable Free Agent Receivers along with their production over the past three years and a single value representing the past three years using a 5/4/3 weighting structure to weight more recent years more heavily. Also included is a players’ free market value if they continue to play at the level of their Weighted Wins Added based on a 166 million dollar projected cap next year. I also included Spotrac’s estimate of a players free market value as a reference. Further included is the probability the player declines due to age based on Adam Harstad’s model of receiver career mortality. I do not include age related decline for players who will be 25 or younger next year or 35 or older, as the model is not well trained on these extremes.
-Alshon Jeffery leads the pack. His value would be somewhat higher at 13.5 million if you prorate his stats to account for missed games.
-Kenny Britt has quietly been very good. My WR metric does not attempt to account for team quality, so it is impressive that Britt was 12th in the league last season in Wins Added in spite of the fact that the Rams were dead last in Offensive Passing NEP and second to last in passing yards per game. 29 next year, Britt is not at great risk of age related decline. Spotrac is low on Britt’s value and it is possible he finds a soft market in Free Agency because he played on such a poor offense. But the fact remains that very good things happened for the Rams when they targeted Britt, and it looks like he could be one of the more underrated players in free agency. For whatever it’s worth, PFF had Britt as the best receiver at running crossing routes in the league last season.
-Terrelle Pryor would projected in the 9.5 million a year range if you only used the 2016 season. At age 28 he’s not likely to suffer severe age related decline. It may or may not be a concern that he only has one year of production.
-Kenny Stills and Desean Jackson have produced almost identically over the past three years, though Jackson could be starting to get old. Stills and Jackson had almost identical advanced stats last season, with Jackson receiving 18% of the Redskins targets but 30% of their Air Yards for 15.5 Air Yards/Target. Stills receiving 17% of the Dolphins Targets but a whole 31% of their Air Yards and averaged 15.9 Air Yards Per Target. Jackson has some risk of decline in the next couple years, but as recently as last season he was among the fastest players in the league. Both players are low-usage, high-efficiency deep threats so they may only make sense for a team that is looking for that type of player.