Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Super Bowl Shufflin' Out of Town

I've been gone too long. Sorry. I've been quite busy at work, which figures to continue through the middle of the month due to upcoming oral arguments at the Illinois Supreme Court down in Springfield. Anyway, the good news is: (a) that puts me back at full speed in time for the baseball season; and (b) I'm not gone for good.

Thomas Jones, on the other hand, is gone for good. (In the business, we call that a segue.) I think I'm happy with this trade. Jones carried 296 times for 1210 yards last year. He had six touchdowns and one fumble. Cedric Benson, who will replace Jones as the team's workhorse, carried 157 times for 647 yards. He also had six touchdowns, and did not fumble (until the Super Bowl -- nice time, Ced).

In terms of overall production above replacement level, Jones has a DPAR of 25.5, while Benson was worth just 17.9 DPAR. But Jones got the bulk of the work. To measure their per play performance, we need to look at their value over average, or DVOA. Here, Benson's 15.1% out paces Jones's 5.6% by a wide margin. It actually places Benson among the league's elite, just ahead of the now retired Tiki Barber.

And that's why the deal makes sense on it's own. The Bears up grade at running back by giving more carries to Benson. So, getting anything of value, and moving up 3o spots in the second round has a lot of value (at least according to Jimmy Johnson's well-groomed draft trade chart, which everyone in the NFL now uses), for a player who the Bears don't need, is a good thing.

Part of me wonders whether the Bears got as much as the market would have been willing to pay for a solid starting running back. Prices for running backs are inflated right now. The Broncos shelled out good money for Travis Henry. But how do we know what the market was willing to give? The Bears got an early second round pick for a late second and Thomas Jones. The Patriots got Wes Welker for a late second and a late seventh. Presumably an early second rounder is worth a lot more than Welker. It better be, otherwise the Bears got no more for Jones than they could have gotten for their seventh round pick.

Anyway, finding it beyond myself to deduce Jones's market value, I'll stick to looking at the trade in isolation. On that front, I'll take it. The Bears got something of substantial value in exchange for a player who either doesn't play, or keeps an even more valuable player off the field. That's a good trade, right?


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