Free Agency Analytics: 2012 NFL Offseason Recap

With Super Bowl XLVII already three months behind us and the NFL game rapidly becoming a year round product, keeping tabs on your favorite team each offseason has evolved into a sport itself. Particular moves during the offseason usually address needs at an individual position or are made because the player transcends his free agent class and becomes a valuable commodity for that franchise. Before diving into the 2013 offseason in the next few upcoming columns, I believe it is important to learn from previous decisions made. Lets take a look at some of the top offseason acquisitions from last year and how they worked out in their first seasons.

nfl offseason

Obviously just using percentage of snaps played only gives you a tip of the iceberg understanding of how the move impacted each team and even some are a bit misleading. For example, Mario Williams played well last season, with 56 total combined QB sacks, hits & hurries (Total Pressure); but if you look at his career dating back to 2008, 56 is a low number for Mario. If you compare Williams to Kamerion Wimbley because they both played the 4-3 DE position, you notice Williams had seven more sacks & hits combined, while Wimbley did a better job hurrying the QB (9 more hurries and 2 more total pressure), evening out the numbers to make both players very comparable.

1) From 2011 to 2012 the Buffalo Bills defense increased their sack total by 7, but the biggest issue Buffalo has had in the past 3 seasons is allowing touchdowns, they have been ranked in the bottom 5 in the NFL for all of them (48, 53 & 53)

2) Pierre Garcon played in only 11 of 17 total games in 2012 for the Washington Redskins due to injury, but in those 11 games Washington went 9-2 and were 1-5 in the games he missed

Offensive line calculation gets a bit tricky because of the uncontrollable elements like QB release time and mobility that can effect sacks allowed and even rushing yards gained

3) The addition of Ben Grubbs to the Saints OG position was huge because of the job he did replacing Carl Nicks, who was their guard for 4 seasons

4) Grubbs and Jahri Evans allowed less sacks and hurries from the Guard position than Nicks and Evans did in ’11 (4 to 3 & 34 to 31)

If you look at the chart from a money spent and production stand point, it is hard to make the case for last summer’s Matt Flynn move. He barely had five seconds to win the job over in Seattle because of the emergence of Russell Wilson and it is impossible to compare his worth to what Peyton Manning meant to Denver’s offense last season. The best way to look at it is to look at the previous season’s team deficiencies and see if that particular team addressed those needs in the upcoming offseason. The Cowboys were 23rd in the NFL in total passing yards allowed and per game in ’11, while the Rams were 26th in total points allowed through the air that same season. In the 2012 offseason, St. Louis and Dallas acquired Cortland Finnegan and Brandon Carr to help fix some of those previous problems.

1) In 2012, the Cowboys allowed 222 less passing yards and moved from 23rd to 19th in total passing yards allowed behind some of the help from Brandon Carr

2) With the acquisition of Finnegan, the Rams went from 26th in total points allowed through the air to 14th (407 to 348)

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