I was going to post this in the Whitney Mercilus thread in response to posts concerning the retention of Barwin, but I realized that this deserves a broader conversation as it maps exactly how Rick Smith will be making his personnel decisions going forward.
Smith just said in a recent interview
with Peter King that he adopted the personnel philosophy of former GE CEO Jack Welch, described as 20/70/10.
...the top 20 percent of your employees are standouts and must be nurtured. The majority, the 70 percent, are the working class -- needed but still able to move if the right situation arises. The lowest 10 percent have to be churned and replaced, because a company always is looking for ways to get better by importing new blood. "If you have a 53-man roster, maybe you've got 10 or 11 core players,'' Smith said, "and then 25 to 30 roles players, and then you're always looking to churn the bottom of the roster.''
describes how the philosophy is applied to a football roster, so it seems to be an accurate reference for Rick Smith's GM tendencies.
So in a nut shell, Welch encouraged GE’s businesses to identify and categorize their senior executives into one of three distinct categories.
* A (the top 20%) the Producers
* B (the middle 70%) those Vital to group as they make up the majority
* C (the bottome 10%) the Non Producers
Welch surmised your top 20% (A players) were the “best of the best” and all resources/top compensation should be thrown their way. The middle 70% (B players) were a vital part of operations, the core of your workforce. You should continue to motivate and train your B’s to eventually move into the A category and push other B’s down a level. The bottom 10% (C players) should be immediately replaced. Some call it the “rank and yank” method.
Relating it to Roster Building
For football purposes the “ranking” evaluation MUST be based entirely upon ability & production as evaluated by your personnel staff(coaches/scouts), then handed over to salary cap administrators for proper contract structuring and negotiation via market values (not the other way around).
By this logic, if Conner Barwin fits into group A --which I believe he will-- then he will be offered a competitive contract by Smith. This is based on the assumption of a reasonable demand/free market appraisal (as explained in the bolded paragraph), and I doubt he'll attract Mario Williams money when the sack opportunities in the Phillips defense will be spread among every one of the front seven.
This is why I believe Brown and Barwin are in no danger of being lost to the market. They fit into the top 10, and Smith has proven that he will cut or renegotiate contracts on any roster spot in group B in order to retain his top producers. The model accurately makes sense of the contract decisions on Foster, Demeco, Winston, and Walter.
So if every contract were up for renegotiation right now, I would expect the following contracts to be solidified:
- 1 - Andre Johnson
- 2 - Arian Foster
- 3 - Duane Brown
- 4 - Brian Cushing
- 5 - Conner Barwin
- 6 - JJ Watt
- 7 - Jonathan Joseph
- 8 - Daniel Manning
- 9 - Brooks Reed
- 10 - Matt Schaub*
It is expected that many of you will suggest a different top 10, but I'm sticking with this one for the sake of argument.
The asterisk is for players in danger of sinking into group B, and as the article above explains, these players are a burden on the GM. You would expect either a contract renegotiation, early expiration, or trade if they allow their value to slip into group B.
Right now, based on what I've observed, I am concluding the timeframe for qualifying value to be at least two years, but may be dependent upon special cap situations and team needs from year to year. Regarding Schaub, I would expect him to reverse his decline in value if he can remain healthy. But if he misses significant time this season, I do expect to see a contract renegotiation.
So the questions that will arise every offseason will be: Who fits into the top 10? Who is falling into group B? Who is overpaid in group B? Accurately answering those questions will be the key to predicting the contract status of each player.