Welcome to the IDP free agency gauge, where we’ll use an assortment of available information to gauge a player’s potential fantasy football outlook. And signed or unsigned, we’ll accumulate what we’ve learned in the process to gauge how to proceed from an IDP point of view with each player. So sit back and enjoy as the NFL ramps up their free agency period, and we break down those scenarios along the way.


Media Resources

Contract Details

IDP Free Agency

From an IDP perspective, Whitehead’s situation in Carolina warranted a different approach in terms of his potential 2020 fantasy football scenarios. After starting with the Lions, then joining the Raiders, Whitehead has fallen under the productive by default tag for a long time now. Simply said, it has been his situation that’s made him productive, not his overall skill set in the NFL.
In Detriot, he struggled on the field and bounced around within their defensive scheme. And then when the Raiders over-paid him for reasons unknown, things didn’t change much. He still struggled but was the one linebacker that stayed healthy and brought a veteran presence to their linebacker core.
So how can we assume he was productive by default? One is looking at his production and what type of stats he recorded. And the other ways are comparing them to his career PFF grades and talking contracts.

IDP Free Agency

Career Production

If we start in 2014, when he first started receiving some real playing time, and go through his 2019 season. This is how his stats breakdown goes in terms of IDP production versus his games started. In 87 starts, he recorded 613 total tackles, with an average of making some form of tackle every 7th snap he played. Overall, that’s a great upper LB2, borderline LB1 output in base tackle production. And in his best stretch from 2016 to 2019, he recorded 476 combined tackles, averaging 5.5 combined tackles per contest, securing an LB1 level in base production.
But here is our sticking point to his overall production by default, besides reflecting on the status of the defenses he played on. And why do we mention status? Because it can be said that he was likely the best linebacker option on those defenses at the time, and trust me as we hit his PFF grades soon, that’s not exactly saying much.
So in his entire career starts, Whitehead has recorded five interceptions, 24 passes defended, one forced fumble, five fumble recovers, three sacks, and 38 tackles for a loss. And in standard format IDP terms, this is a total of 76 playmaking type plays, padding his fantasy football box scores. But in reality, that’s barely LB3 type IDP production for a player that’s played 5,157 total snaps while starting. That translates into him making a game-changing type play every 67.8 snap played, noting that an average game offers around 50 snaps on average. And if you ask this IDP writer, that is a sure sign of being productive by default player.

We can just ask former Bills linebacker Preston Brown owners how that worked out on paper in the long run. And for you that don’t know, Brown’s production ratio mirrors Whiteheads while he was a Bill. Offering LB1 IDP production only to sign with the Bengals and fall off the IDP map. The difference was, Brown wasn’t the best linebacker option for the Bengals and he basically got benched.

IDP Free Agency

Career Contracts

Team Contract Type Status Year Signed Yrs Total APY Guarantees Amount Earned % Earned Effective APY
Lions Drafted Expired 2012 4 $2,312,000 $578,000 $212,000 $2,312,000 100.0% $578,000
Lions UFA Expired 2016 2 $8,000,000 $4,000,000 $4,750,000 $8,500,000 106.3% $4,250,000
Raiders UFA Terminated 2018 3 $19,000,000 $6,333,333 $6,075,000 $12,750,000 67.1% $6,375,000
Panthers SFA Active 2020 1 $2,500,000 $2,500,000 $1,450,000 $1,450,000 58.0% $0

If you’re on a mobile device and having problems seeing all the contract details, click HERE.

I have a couple of thoughts about his contract history. The first one is that I was completely thrown off as to why Gruden (Raiders) signed Whitehead to the medium range contract for a linebacker starter as he did. The writing was clearly on the wall back then that Whitehead wasn’t the best available free agent linebacker at the time that could have been signed. But, afterward, it became clear to me after Gruden made other moves like trading Khalil Mack.

They weren’t looking to win right away and weren’t looking to win much off the top. And head coach Gruden needed a stop-gap guy at inside linebacker, and Whitehead offered a name for Raiders fans and a veteran presence to run the defensive plays. A smart move when we think about it, leaving Gruden the opportunity to stack up better draft picks to build the team his way.

Also noted on this first thing, the Lions didn’t seem to put up a much of a fight to resign Whitehead at that point. And as we mentioned, that contract they would have needed to match to keep him in Detriot was a lackluster one. And would have been fairly easy to match. I believe Patricia had seen enough on film to know he was an overall average player.

My other thought, Whitehead went from being a productive and decently paid linebacker to released and signed fast to a very mediocre veteran contract. And that large of a drop is relevant enough to suggest that the Panthers didn’t make him a high priority target.

IDP Free Agency

The Competition Versus The Opportunity

PFF Grades…

Tahir Whitehead, over the last four years, on average… Run Defense 66.55 – Coverage Defense 47.05 

Shaq Thompson, over the last four years, on average….Run Defenses 74.15 – Coverage Defense 62.18

And I quote..

New Panthers linebacker Tahir Whitehead recalled one day at practice while he was at Temple then-offensive assistant coach Matt Rhule came out wearing a helmet and shoulder pads. He wondered then if Rhule was crazy. Now Rhule is his head coach at Carolina.

David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer22d ago Jourdan Rodrigue@JourdanRodrigue30 Mar …on Rhule when they overlapped when the latter was an OC at Temple: He’s a players’ coach…innovative in ways that keep guys engaged. Asks for accountability from players. Jourdan Rodrigue @JourdanRodrigue 30 Mar …interestingly doesn’t not want to say whether he will be playing middle linebacker with the Panthers – I’d assume that’s a favor to a staff that doesn’t want to show its hand ahead of the draft with so many glaring needs…including, well, at middle linebacker. Add my own little note here, reportedly, and as we can see, Whitehead played for his head coach in college. And fromwhat I see, the intention is to run the Temple defense. Or at least something like it. So in this defense, it’s said they don’t keep the two ILBs on the field for passing downs or nickle package.

IDP Free Agency

IDP Free Agency Scenario Gauged



The Bottom Line

First off, descending because he is wrapping up his fine career. In the end, I believe we are looking at an LB3 on an average LB2 as a two-down thumper, at best. Give me Shaq or maybe even a rookie they may draft in a day or so. And not to mention we got our eye on third-year ILB Jermaine Carter out of Maryland.

Whitehead is just a depth signing, one likely to help get the defensive player on the same playbook. And we mentioned the best-case scenario, it’ll take a real injury to get him this year as an every-down backer. Did we mention that Whitehead is like 30 years old? And Thompson made the 26 under 26 linebacker rankings(HERE), at least for now. 

IDP Free Agency

Thank you for joining us at Gridiron Ratings.  

Gary VanDyke

“The IDP Tipster”

The IDP Tipster

Would you like directly to have access to Gary VanDyke and his fantasy Football IDP “takes” or interact? You can find him here @TheIDPTipster via Twitter. His most active account. Or chat with us using our member’s chat on site. We look forward to hearing from you.

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