The Friday Five: Brad Spielberger

Brad Spielberger is a Research & Development and Salary Cap Analyst at Pro Football Focus. He co-authored the book The Drafting Stage: Creating a Marketplace for NFL Draft Picks alongside Jason Fitzgerald. The Tulane Law School alum previously worked as a legal intern for the Minnesota Vikings.

We caught up with Brad for this week’s Friday Five

Who is your biggest mentor?

Jason Fitzgerald from Over The Cap, the best NFL Salary Cap & Contract website around. Jason taught me how to break down every component of NFL contracts, and how to start working on generating statistical comparison for free agents that could lead to contractual comparisons. Still learn something new from him on a regular basis about crafty maneuvers teams could take advantage of and much more.

What made you want to get into salary cap analysis?

The Tulane Pro Football Negotiation Competition during my first year of Law School. The best and brightest law students from around the globe descend on beautiful New Orleans to conduct mock negotiations for NFL player contracts, with NFL front-office members and agents serving as judges. The energy of non-stop, back and forth debating over why an NFL player deserves a certain deal is intoxicating. The combination of sports statistics, positional market research, and salary cap accounting is an Economics major and sports fanatics dream. I knew after the first day of the competition in my 1L year that this is what I wanted to do for a career.

What are your future plans for your work at PFF?

To make PFF a one-stop shop for all NFL content, including news and transaction analysis that provides valuable insights and context in real time. Individually, I would also like NFL clubs to view our contract projections as a resource to help them get a better gauge of the free agent marketplace from a neutral, unbiased perspective. We’ve seen a meteoric rise in NFL Draft analysis, with outlets producing Big Boards, mock drafts, and much more. You can never have too much information, and the opinions of respected talent evaluators on the outside of the league can improve the evaluation process. We hope our free agency coverage and contract projections will be viewed in the same light by all 32 clubs, leading to a more efficient free agency period for everyone. More efficiently constructed rosters means a better on-field product, which benefits everyone.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Always be creating original content and putting it out when you can. There is no topic too small or research area that is too niche to explore. You can constantly improve the public discourse around football with perhaps a new angle on a long-standing principle, a unique perspective on how to find edges in today’s game, or even just digging into a CBA quirk or loophole. Everyone loves football and sports, but fleshing ideas out and putting pen to paper is how we move the game forward. The best part of the modern football evolution is that many advancements have led to an even more exciting game, as well.

If you could invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be and why?

Bill Belichick, Pat Riley, Lou Lamoriello

This could (maybe should) be a much deeper answer with historical figures that shaped the course of human history, but I chose the three individuals whose sports careers as coaches/executives I admire the most in their respective sports. I would want to find the similarities and differences in how each built a roster and winning culture, picking their brain about how they consistently find value in leagues full of sharp people getting paid a lot of money to win. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say all three are among the best leaders of any organization – sports or otherwise – in my lifetime. To consistently rise to the top in leagues striving for parity and with fierce competition is a feat that takes special individuals at the top.

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