Jerome Felton had a good year for the Vikings in 2012, paving the way for Adrian Peterson and some of his epic MVP runs. So great was Felton’s value to the team that before the offseason his re-signing was declared the #1 priority in free agency. The Vikes made good on this by giving Felton a 3-year, $7.5 million contract.
Few people seemed to mind when the Vikes gave Felton that healthy deal. They realized Felton’s value as a run blocker and all-around offensive stalwart. It’s not about the statsheet with Felton, it’s about the toughness and grit and lead-blocking. Just ask Adrian Peterson to talk about what Felton brings to the table.
But not everyone in the world is entirely sold on the idea of a lead blocking fullback being worth $7.5 million in today’s NFL. Forbes magazine has chimed in and they think Jerome Felton is wildly overpaid. In fact they have declared Felton the most overpaid player in the entire NFL.
Their reasoning on this? It all boils down to statistical wankery. The Forbes people used the wonky stat Approximate Value to determine what a player should be worth salary-wise then compared that made-up number to what the player is actually making. Using a three-year stat sample, Forbes determined that Jerome Felton is not worth what he is being paid.
Here’s the problem: Felton’s value can’t be determined by looking at his statline. As a blocking fullback, his contribution is measured by what others do on the field. He is in essence an offensive lineman. And in his capacity as a blocking fullback last season? He helped a dude run for over 2,000 yards. That’s why the Vikings gave him the money.
So yes, rating Jerome Felton against a measure of “value” based not on specific contextual factors but mere reading of stats yields the determination that he is overpaid. But when you look at what he gives to the Vikings specifically he is not overpaid. So Forbes can pretty much stick it.
Oh and by the way, you know who happens to be #2 on the Forbes overpaid list? John Carlson. That one I understand. Dude did nothing last year after being signed to a curiously large contract. But at least Rick Spielman was able to knock those salary numbers down for this season. That slightly lessens the impact of the terrible contract.
Two Vikings at the top of the overpaid list? Clearly Forbes is not impressed with Mr. Spielman’s acumen when it comes to valuation of talent. But he drafts well!