Change in Relative Value of Positions over time as shown in Franchise Tags

Over time, the relative value of positions change.  This will not come as a shock to anyone who has seen the changes in the game or rules.  Just one example is how the passing game has gotten more important compared to the running offense.  Teams are not using FB’s and some teams may not even have a FB on their roster.

We can track this change in focus through the value of their contracts. This is most notable for the stars of the league, as they get the lion’s share of the money. One short cut is to look at the franchise tag values. [One caution is that this may skew all the results of lessor players at a position.]

Over the last ten years, the total money of franchise tags has almost doubled. Yet different positions have gotten pay raises at a different rate. Spotrac provided a table of the franchise tags by position from 2012 to 2022. RELATIVE VALUE BY DIFFERENCES IN ADDED MONEY . in millions of dollars POS 2012 2022 difference QB 14.4 29.7 15.3 LB 8.9 18.7 9.8 DT 8.0 17.4 9.4 WR 9.5 18.4 8.9 OL 9.4 16.7 7.3 DE 10.6 17.9 7.3 CB 10.3 17.3 7.0 SA 6.2 12.9 6.7 TE 5.4 10.9 5.5 K/P 2.7 5.2 2.6 RB 7.7 9.6 1.8 Tot 93.1 174.7 81.6 RELATIVE VALUE BY DIFFERNCES IN RANK We can see this listed by rank in 2012 compared to 2022. The chart is sorted by rank in 2012. POS Rank Rank difference . 2012 2022 QB 1 1 0 DE 2 4 -2 CB 3 6 -3 WR 4 3 1 OL 5 7 -2 LB 6 2 4 DT 7 5 2 RB 8 10 -2 SA 9 8 1 TE 10 9 1 P/K 11 11 0 RELATIVE VALUE BY PERCENTAGE OF CAP We can also see the changes in values of the positions as a function of what percentage each position has of the total increase in the franchise tags overall. POS % % difference . 2012 2023 QB 15.5 17.0 1.5 DT 8.6 10.0 1.4 LB 9.5 10.7 1.2 SA 6.7 7.4 .7 TE 5.8 6.3 .5 WR 10.2 10.5 .3 K/P 2.9 3.0 .1 OL 10.1 9.5 -.6 CB 11.0 9.9 -1.1 DE 11.4 10.2 -1.2 RB 8.3 5.5 -2.8 Tot 100 100 0.00

The value of positions changed over time. Depending on how you measure them [actual dollar, ranking or percentage increase], you can get slightly different results.

The positions have increased of actual dollars but at a different rate. Some positions have increased even more than the league overall, showing that the league values those positions more. Some positions have not kept up with overall increase for the league, which shows that their relative value decreased.

Given a salary cap, more dollars for a given positions mean less for other positions. There are some quirks. The power five positions are still highly valued overall, but their relative rankings are slightly lower overall.

Clearly, we can see QB’s were, and are, the most important position as shown by their salaries. WR’s are getting more money as the value of the passing game has increased. Yet they were already making a lot of money even 10 years ago, so their increase in percentage basis is not so big. On the other hand, TE’s are making more money on a relative rate, though their actual additional money is relatively marginal.

The OT is just one part of the OL, but the tag is set by OL. Guards are making more money than they used to and are closing parity with tackles. Yet that lowers the overall RANKING of the OL slightly. The shift of players along the line occurs due to injuries and new alignments that are not necessarily reflected in their salaries. A personal peeve is the numbering of the OL for the jerseys do not match their positions either.

The value of a CB is still pretty important OVERALL, but not as important on a RELATIVE value. The changes in rules have favored the offense. At the same time, similar to the rise of guards to tackles, safeties have gotten slightly higher rankings.

The role of LB’s and DE’s and DT’s vary by scheme. Yet this is not necessarily reflected in the salaries. I suspect that one player alone, [Donald] can define the rise in DT salaries.

I suspect that these changes will fluctuate over time. I used the longest time frame shown by Spotrac. Shorter time frames may differ.

One last item to note is how some individual players can and do complain about which position that they are listed. This can affect their salaries sigbficantly.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.