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How PFF helped Will Dissly get paid

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Seattle Seahawks v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The NFL offseason has entered the lull at the midpoint between the initial rush of free agency and the draft. It’s been three weeks since the new league year started and the Seattle Seahawks saw several of their free agents depart for elsewhere, including D.J. Reed, Gerald Everett and Ethan Pocic, while keeping many of their own, such as tight end Will Dissly.

Dissly, of course, signed a three-year, $24M contract that ESPN named one of the most head-scratching moves of free agency. There is no doubt that many Seahawks fans disagree with the idea that Dissly was overpaid or that the deal is a head scratcher, but that doesn’t address the question of how the two sides came to agree on the valuation of the contract. In order to gain one possible explanation of the valuation, a quick look back at an earlier offseason piece here at Field Gulls is necessary.

Back in late January, Field Gulls looked at the potential contract projections for several soon to be free agent Seahawks based on the 2021 valuation from OverTheCap.com. In that piece, it was noted that the starting point for negotiations on a three year contract for Dissly would be $18.7M based on the OTC 2021 valuation and the expected increases to the salary cap in the coming seasons. Keeping the 2021 valuation of $4,951,000 from OTC in mind, here’s the very simple math behind getting from there to three years and $24M. What is key to understand, of course, is the makeup of the OTC valuations, which according to the OTC website are

OTC’s player valuations are calculated using proprietary formulas to more accurately depict the value being provided by a player based on his on field performance relative to the current market for his position. The calculations utilize a number of statistic and performance evaluations that are provided by Pro Football Focus. Positional valuations use a number of factors including snap counts, PFF grades and statistics to determine the player’s primary valuation.

First, given that the Hawks had acquired Noah Fant to replace Gerald Everett, there seems little debate that Dissly will likely step in and take over the TE1 snaps available in the wake of Everett’s departure. Thus, the first thing to do is determine how much more Everett played compared to Dissly during the 2021 season. That is very easy, as the snap counts for the two during this past season were as follows:

  • Gerald Everett: 650 snaps
  • Will Dissly: 512 snaps

Given that Everett played 26.96% more snaps than Dissly during the 2021 season, adjusting the 2021 valuation up 26.96% moves Dissly from a valuation of $4,951,000 to $6,285,449. From there it is possible to apply the same indexing of this valuation as performed in the January post based on the anticipated increase in the salary cap in the coming seasons. Performing those calculations, the projections for a Dissly contract for the next three seasons come out as follows:

  • 2022: $7,170,578
  • 2023: $7,749,184
  • 2024: $8,816,849
  • Total: 3 years, $23,736,612

And that’s how simple it was to come up with a valuation of $24M for a three year contract for the Seahawks to put their starting tight end under contract for the next three years.

Now, this obviously does not necessarily mean that the contract is a good value, but Uncle Will has got the next three years to demonstrate to fans just exactly how the contract is a good value rather than a head scratcher.