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Tracking NFL Free Agency with Data Visualization

Updated: May 20, 2022

Growing up I watched a lot of ESPN. Probably too much.

I'd wake up before school, throw on Stu Scott and Rich Eisen, and watch highlights until the last possible second, before running out the door. On a sick day, instead of cozying up with The Price is Right, I would happily watch SportsCenter all day. Stats, trades, "BOO-YAs," the top 10 plays, no Skip Bayless. A simpler time.

Not so much anymore. Now I have two kids, and we watch Peppa Pig and Gabby's Dollhouse because that's the law. We catch (parts of) the occasional hockey or football game, but it's largely an ongoing debate about which color team we're on, if we're winning, and if we can put Gabby back on.

Suffice it to say I was PUMPED when, browsing through Twitter this morning, I saw this post by the hugely talented Brian Moore.

Full disclosure: I'm the marketing guy. I'm not a Tableau power user (yet!?) and I'm still in my first year working in the broader data analytics world. And that's precisely why I wanted to write about this data visualization.

Tell Compelling Stories with Data Visualization

Full disclosure #2: a Patriots fan. Which is conflicting because I still dislike the Dallas Cowboys because of their 90's dominance, least I'm self-aware in my fandom? Suffice it to say, I totally get it, and this viz has you covered regardless of which laundry you root for.

I love this visual. In 30 seconds I can see where players went, which conferences we lost them to, and if they landed at any divisional opponents.

OK, but who left? Who's filling those gaps? What's the drill down?


The functionality...I'm not super excited about losing Shaq Mason. I wonder what other sort of moves the league is making on the offensive side of the ball?

By contract value, only Trent Brown is cracking the top 10. Maybe there's more impact on the defense?

Not really going the way I'd hoped! OK...maybe...I mean Special Teams are pretty important, maybe we signed Johnny Hekker or something?

OH COME ON! (*Frantically Googles when the 2022 NFL draft is taking place*) Today!?

The point is, presenting relevant information in an easily digestible way is the key to a compelling story. This data was processed in seconds, there are dozens of different ways of slicing it up, the interface is simple and intuitive.

Sure, I could present shifts to my marketing mix in Excel. What did I spend on PPC campaigns last year, and which portion of that spend am I moving to social, or radio, or an influencer initiative going forward?

But it wouldn't be as engaging as this. Not even close.

This is the sort of analytics dashboard functionality that takes a totally fine sales/business development/marketing presentation, and brings it to life. And if the back-end is optimized in such a way that I don't have to fuss over the source data for hours on end?


Sales and Marketing professionals are usually not served well by acting as their own graphic designers. So why are we trotting out excel spreadsheets and direct exports from Google Analytics, when the story we're trying to tell (the thing we're actually good at!) could be brough to life much more vibrantly?

Sounds like something The Jaguars would do.

But seriously - check out Brian's viz on Tableau Public. And by all means hit me up on LinkedIn with any blazing hot NFL takes, or just to tell me why the Patriots are the worst :)


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