NFL to be advised by artificial intelligence on player performance, salary

The National Football League is turning to artificial intelligence to determine whether its teams are paying some of their star players too much money.

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Pro Football Focus (PFF) is an analytics company that is majority-owned by former Cincinnati Bengals player and NFL broadcaster Chris Collinsworth. The new system, in conjunction with Amazon Web Services (AWS), will provide never-before-seen metrics of all 32 NFL teams.

“We break down every player on every play on every game,” Collingsworth said during an exclusive interview on FOX Business’ “Bulls & Bears” Monday. “We have this treasure-trove of data that we work with and then we have four data scientists that work here along with 500 people that are doing various things within the football world.”

PFF and AWS can collect data on the number of times a receiver drops a pass and whether that pass was considered catchable. It also analyzes the difficulty level of a completed pass by a quarterback.  Early results indicate that some teams are overpaying star running backs and other players by millions of dollars.

“We’re taking all this data and we’re throwing it into these massive computer systems and it’s starting to come out with breakdowns on which positions are the most valuable, how much should they be paid, how much should you pay the quarterback,” Collinsworth said.

Collinsworth makes it clear that PFF has contracts with all NFL teams and the data is used in various ways by each team. The next step he said is to take the evaluated data and translate it into a monetary value.

“We know what the evaluation of the player was based on all this data, now what is the valuation of that player,” Collinsworth said.

He added that there’s never been a team that has won a Super Bowl with a quarterback over 13 percent of the salary cap.

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Quarterback Russell Wilson became the highest-paid player in the NFL after signing a $140 million, four-year contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson’s $35 million yearly average runs through the 2023 season and accounts for 13.98 percent of the Seahawks’ salary cap. It also tops Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ average annual salary of $33.5 million. Rodgers’ $134 million extension accounts for contract extension accounts for 13.49 percent of the team’s salary cap.