The NFL is starting to use AI to figure out how much it should actually pay players, and early data shows one position is more at risk for a pay cut than others

The

caption
The “Sunday Night Football” analyst Cris Collinsworth, a retired player himself, is the CEO of Pro Football Focus.
source
NBC/Getty Images

Soon, artificial intelligence could help decide how much NFL players should be paid.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a company called Pro Football Focus – which is run by the “Sunday Night Football” analyst Cris Collinsworth, who played wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals – has been working with all 32 NFL teams and more than 60 college football teams to analyze data on football players’ performances for the teams, which is useful for both strategy and recruiting.

Now, PFF is working on a salary-analysis system meant to determine how valuable a player is in terms of performance and then in terms of compensation. The company aims to project what a player’s value is based on both historical stats – like dropped passes that were considered catchable or completed passes that had a high level of difficulty – as well as what a player’s future performance might look like. Then, PFF will develop a corresponding financial measure that uses AI and machine learning to assign a dollar sign to that player’s potential, according to The Journal.

Read more: Amazon plans to build a bike-friendly headquarters complete with employee showers in Arlington, Virginia – take a look

So far, PFF is finding that running backs are both overrated and overpaid, The Journal reports. Though the role has visibility and star power, PFF has found that it’s less valuable considering that the success of a running back relies on the strength of the team overall as opposed to the player individually. If the NFL were to widely adopt PFF’s AI for salary recommendations, that could mean pay cuts for running backs.

“Our goal is to answer the question, what wins in the NFL, whether it be at the player level or the game level,” George Chahrouri, PFF’s director of research of development, told Business Insider. “It comes down to a number game with a dollar sign in front of it at the end of the day, because if you’re paying players who aren’t going to win or contribute to winning football games, you’re obviously going to be an unsuccessful team.”

Chahrouri believes AI has brought a holistic review of players into view.

“What it has brought, in my perspective, is the ability to not overexaggerate or underexaggerate things, to more properly weigh the components of football players that may have been swept under the rug,” Chahrouri said.