NFL Coaches Salary

Recently in the local news I saw that our beloved Seattle Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll (or "Uncle Pete" as he's known at our house) is up for a contract negotiation soon. He's been the heart and soul behind turning the Seahawks from a national "meh" to one of the top teams in the NFL, including back to back Super Bowl appearances, and one of the best records in the league. Naturally, he'll be asking for more money.

So I was wondering: Does the Win/Loss record indicate Pete Carroll deserves more money?

For reference, I toyed with this idea a few years ago for NCAA coaches

I searched Google and quickly gathered some data on NFL Coaches Salaries, as well as their age. I then grabbed a few years of Win/Loss standings from ESPN (again, top hit on Google). Averaging together the results from the past 3 years of NFL play, let's see how they look! Of course I've highlighted the Seahawks with a bright green star.

The line of best fit was simply calculated using a least squares regression in Python. There's a lot of scatter (much more than in my NCAA analysis previously), but I'm only averaging 3 years of play instead of 10 this time. Here's how to read this graph: points above the line are winning more than average given their level of pay, and points below are winning less.

Right away you can see two interesting (or just obvious) things:

  1. Uncle Pete is already one of the top paid NFL coaches
  2. The Seahawks are one of the best performing teams in the NFL over this time period

So he might have a good case for being paid more! Let's see just how undervalued he might be. By subtracting the model from the data, we can compute the coaches "value":

This is a pretty noisy distribution, and not a great discriminant of "value", but thats ok... this is definitely not my most absurd football related article to date...

So, teams with the best value coaches by this metric are:
1 - Denver Broncos
2 - Carolina Panthers
3 - Cincinnati Bengals

and Seattle's Pete Carroll is a respectable 8th. Given that he's one of the oldest coaches in the NFL, I don't know how much room he'll have to negotiate. However, if the salary data I've grabbed is accurate, this year's NFL champions, the Denver Broncos, are getting a hell of a deal with Gary Kubiak.


Of course we have to talk about the other end of the distribution. The team with the "worst valued" coach in the NFL currently is:
32 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Look, don't put too much stock in what I'm saying based on random numbers from the internet. As I understand it the coach's salary doesn't count towards the team's salary cap, but still, it doesn't look great Tampa....


The data and Python code to make these figures is of course available for use on GitHub!

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