Seattle vs. Denver: Then and Now

September 19th, 2014

Seattle Seahawks

USATSI_8042462_160074578_lowresWhen taking some quick math to the following comparison table, we see that the Seahawks focused heavily on re-signing and/or improving their defense for the 2014 season. In terms of salary cap allocation, the Seahawks are spending $42 million on their 2014 starting defense, up from $29.7 million in 2013. Offensively speaking Seattle made some intelligent accounting decisions to balance things out a bit. The dramatic increase from Golden Tate in 2013 ($3.1M) to Percy Harvin in 2014 ($13.4M) was all but eliminated with a huge restructured contract for tight end Zach Miller.

In full, the Seahawks have $96,578,424 allocated to their starting lineup heading into Sunday’s matchup, up quite a bit from their Super Bowl roster this past February ($77,421,502).

2013 Player 2013 Cap Pos. 2014 Player 2014 Cap
Russell Wilson $681,085 QB Russell Wilson $817,302
Marshawn Lynch $8,500,000 RB Marshawn Lynch $8,000,000
Michael Robinson $326,470 FB Derrick Coleman $495,000
Doug Baldwin $560,833 WR Doug Baldwin $3,000,000
Golden Tate $3,100,000 WR Percy Harvin $13,400,000
Zach Miller $11,000,000 TE Zach Miller $3,887,500
Max Unger $6,000,000 C Max Unger $6,100,000
James Carpenter $2,084,046 G James Carpenter $2,431,364
J.R. Sweezy $494,212 G J.R. Sweezy $584,212
Breno Giacomini $2,625,000 T Justin Britt $628,533
Russell Okung $9,540,000 T Russell Okung $11,240,000
Red Bryant $5,468,750 DE Michael Bennett $4,000,000
Cliff Avril $3,750,000 DE Cliff Avril $9,250,000
Chris Clemons $5,187,500 DE K.J. Wright $1,552,500
Tony McDaniel $605,000 DT Tony McDaniel $2,125,000
Brandon Mebane $5,200,000 DT Brandon Mebane $5,700,000
Malcolm Smith $566,475 LB Malcolm Smith $656,475
Bobby Wagner $979,045 LB Bobby Wagner $1,174,854
Richard Sherman $600,606 CB Richard Sherman $3,676,606
Byron Maxwell $583,363 CB Byron Maxwell $673,363
Kam Chancellor $3,878,402 S Kam Chancellor $5,825,000
Earl Thomas $2,898,215 S Earl Thomas $7,373,215
Steven Hauschka $620,000 K Steven Hauschka $1,700,000
Jon Ryan $1,405,000 P Jon Ryan $1,400,000
Clint Gresham $767,500 LS Clint Gresham $887,500
$37,966,919 Offense $57,153,738
$25,676,671 Defense $38,346,346
$77,421,502 Total $96,578,424
$3,096,860 Average $3,863,137

Notable Expiring Contracts


Denver Broncos

USATSI_8088459_160074578_lowresWhile much has been made about the “new-look” Denver Broncos defense in 2014, the reality is in terms of salary cap allocation, it’s the offense that took the big step forward this season.

Denver had just $37.9 million allocated to their Super Bowl starting offense. That number has risen to $57.1 million for the 2014 season. For the most part, the reason for the increase is simply normal contract inflation. Wes Welker’s cap figure doubled from 2013 to 2014; the same can be said for Louis Vasquez. Eric Decker’s ultra-value $1.5M 2013 cap figure was replaced with a $4 million hit for Emmanuel Sanders. And finally a healthy Ryan Clady brings $8.6 million in cap dollars back to the lineup.

Defensively speaking, Denver added excellent pieces to their 2014, without making too much of a dent in this year’s cap framework. The Broncos had just $25.6 million allocated to their Super Bowl defense, and have increased that figure to $38.3 million this season. Out goes a $10.75 million Champ Bailey, in comes a $7.9 million Aqib Talib. Cornerback Chris Harris brings nearly a million in cap decrease from his predecessor ((Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: $2.9M). The biggest splash by far is the addition of DE DeMarcus Ware, who carries a $9.6 million cap figure for the season, the second highest on the Broncos.

In total, Denver has $99,741,417 allocated to their current starting lineup, up from $69,437,423 last season. The return of Welker to the lineup may help round the offense back into elite form, to complement a defense that’s certain to be better for the long-run if it remains healthy.

2013 Player 2013 Cap Pos. 2014 Player 2014 Cap
Peyton Manning $17,500,000 QB Peyton Manning $17,500,000
Knowshon Moreno $3,288,800 RB Montee Ball $787,347
Eric Decker $1,506,037 WR Emmanuel Sanders $4,000,000
Demaryius Thomas $2,592,750 WR Demaryius Thomas $4,700,000
Wes Welker $4,150,000 WR Wes Welker $7,647,059
Julius Thomas $651,000 TE Julius Thomas $741,000
Manny Ramirez $1,231,666 C Manny Ramirez $2,416,666
Zane Beadles
$1,060,000 G Orlando Franklin $1,386,000
Louis Vasquez $3,250,000 G Louis Vasquez $7,250,000
Chris Clark $1,548,666 T Chris Clark $2,125,666
Orlando Franklin $1,188,000 T Ryan Clady $8,600,000
Malik Jackson $533,403 DE DeMarcus Ware $9,666,666
Shaun Phillips $1,400,000 DE Derek Wolfe $1,420,036
Terrance Knighton $1,750,000 DT Terrance Knighton $2,750,000
Sylvester Williams $1,378,500 DT Sylvester Williams $1,723,125
Nate Irving $728,750 LB Nate Irving $818,750
Danny Trevathan $506,018 LB Danny Trevathan $596,018
Wesley Woodyard $3,250,000 LB Von Miller $6,613,188
Champ Bailey $10,750,000 CB Aqib Talib $7,906,250
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie $2,900,000 CB Chris Harris $2,187,000
Mike Adams $2,000,000 S T.J. Ward $3,250,000
Duke Ihenacho $480,000 S Rahim Moore $1,415,313
Matt Prater $420,000 K Brandon McManus $3,106,618
Britton Colquitt $2,000,000 P Britton Colquitt $3,250,000
Aaron Brewer $481,333 LS Aaron Brewer $571,333
$44,230,561 Offense $49,766,609
$29,717,356 Defense $42,007,013
$69,437,423 Total $99,741,417
$2,777,497 Average $3,989,657

Notable Expiring Contracts


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Week 2 NFL Best-Value Team

September 18th, 2014

USATSI_8087752_160074578_lowresAs Week 2 of the 2014 NFL season wraps (not so quietly), we present the Best Value roster, touting the player at each position with the highest True Value Statistic rating (based on statistical production vs. 2014 salary cap dollars).

The following starting value lineup can be put together for a total of $46,613,544 in 2014 cap dollars. Players from 20 teams are represented, including two each from the Ravens, Panthers, Browns, Dolphins, Vikings, and Steelers.

Of the group, Forsett, Julius Thomas, Dunlap, Satele, Newton, McClain are set to be unrestricted free agents after the season. While Rams punter Johnny Hekker will be restricted. Derrick Morgan (TEN) has a $1.685M player option that he’ll likely decline. Saints DE Cameron Jordan had his 5th year option exercised for the 2015 season. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill will be eligible for an extension this offseason, but it’s more likely his 5th year option for 2016 is exercised.

Week 2 Best-Value Team

Pos. Player Team 2014 Cap TVS
QB Ryan Tannehill MIA $3,455,046 +6.63
RB Le’Veon Bell PIT $936,500 +8.25
RB Justin Forsett BAL $570,000 +4.62
WR Andrew Hawkins CLE $5,800,000 +5.44
WR Markus Wheaton PIT $662,844 +5.27
TE Larry Donnell NYG $495,000 +7.63
TE Julius Thomas DEN $741,000 +5.49
LT King Dunlap SD $2,425,000 +6.33
G John Greco CLE $2,430,000 +8.97
C Samson Satele MIA $1,859,375 +6.31
G Kelechi Osemele BAL $912,510 +10.06
RT Derek Newton HOU $1,446,064 +12.11
DE Mike Daniels GB $645,146 +10.16
DT Kawann Short CAR $1,052,349 +13.05
DT Jay Ratliff CHI $1,578,125 +9.67
DE Cameron Jordan NO $2,459,991 +8.60
OLB Derrick Morgan TEN $3,541,668 +12.80
ILB Luke Kuechly CAR $3,430,528 +14.84
ILB Rolando MCclain DAL $700,000 +6.10
OLB Lavonte David TB $946,836 +5.41
CB Corey Graham BUF $2,550,000 +4.99
S Harrison Smith MIN $1,946,876 +6.20
S Antoine Bethea SF $3,000,000 +5.86
CB Desmond Trufant ATL $1,855,870 +4.90
K Blair Walsh MIN $599,483 +8.18
P Johnny Hekker STL $573,333 +10.21

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Introducing the NFL’s 2014 All-Reserve Team

September 17th, 2014

USATSI_7532153_160074578_lowresWith off season matters dominating the NFL public relations feeds, the reserve lists across NFL teams are slowly piling up. These designations include the: Reserve/Injured list, Reserve/Injured Designated to Return list, Reserve/PUP,  Reserve/Non-Football Injury, Reserve/Left Team, the newly popular Exempt List and of course the Reserve/Suspended list.

As of this morning, 21 of the 32 NFL teams have had (or currently have) at least one player designated to the Reserve/Suspended list. Every NFL franchise has at least one player on the Reserve/Injured list

We’ve taken a look across each of these lists and pulled out an All-Reserve team, highlighting notable players not currently on the active roster from each position. Although it should be noted – no punter currently resides on any reserve list.

Quarterback – Sam Bradford (STL)

Was placed on the Reserve/Injured list this preseason for the 2nd consecutive season. He counts $17,610,000 while on the shelf, earning $14,015,000 in 2014 salary. His rookie  contract with the Rams  ends after the 2015 season.

Running Back – Adrian Peterson (MIN)

Was officially placed on the Exempt/ Commissioner’s Decision list early this morning, accepting “administrative leave with full pay”. He’ll earn his entire $11.5M salary this season, bringing his earnings to nearly $72M in Minnesota. His future remains uncertain at this point

Wide Receiver – Josh Gordon (CLE)

Was suspended for the entire 2014 season at the end of August – but has since been rumored to have that reduced to 10 games. He’ll foefeit nearly $818,000 for his time away, and will rejoin the Browns with a contract that expires after the 2015 season.

Tight End – Tyler Eifert (CIN)

Eifert found his way to the Reserve/Injured Designated to Return list this past week, meaning he’ll be away for at least 8 weeks. He’s in year two of his rookie deal with the Bengals, counting $1,876,364 against their salary cap.

Offensive Line – Lane Johnson (PHI)

The #4 overall pick in the 2013 draft was suspended 4 games for the use of PEDs. The violation cost him $1,061,663 in salary & bonus money, leaving $4,395,598 to count against the Eagles cap in 2014.

Offensive Line – Sam Baker (ATL)

The veteran tackle was placed on the reserve/injured list for the 2nd consecutive season, just weeks after his $4 million option bonus kicked in. He’ll earn $7,250,000 while on the shelf in 2014.

Defensive Line – Dion Jordan (MIA)

Violated the susbstance abuse policy in July costing him the first four games of the season. He forfeits more than $1.1M in 2014 salary and bonus money.

Defensive Line – Chris Long (STL)

Has put together a quietly great career with the Rams, earning more than $61M in his 6 seasons in St. Louis. He hit the reserve/injured designated to return list last week, meaning 8 weeks off the field.

Linebacker – Daryl Washington (ARI)

Suspended for the entire 2014 season due to a substance abuse violation, Washington forfeits $3 million in potential earnings.

Linebacker – Aldon Smith (SF)

He’s averaging nearly a sack a game in his first 3 NFL seasons, but multiple off-the-field offenses led to a 9 game suspension in 2014. The violation costs him $2.4M in salary and paid back bonus money, dropping his 2014 cap number to $3.33M. He’s signed through the 2015 season in San Francisco.

Secondary – Charles Tillman (CHI)

The 33-year-old re-injured a tricep that kept him out of much of the 2013 season. This time it hold him out for the remaining 15 weeks. He’ll earn $2.85M for his efforts in 2014, and is expected to hit the free agent market this offseason.

Secondary – Reshad Jones (MIA)

Jones signed a 4 year $28 million extension with the Dolphins prior to the 2013 season, but was popped with a 4 game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy. The infraction costs him nearly $850,000 in 2014 wages, dropping his cap figure under $3 million for the year.

Special Teams – Matt Prater (DEN)

Prater reportedly violated his league rehab program for substance abuse, costing him the first games of the season, and nearly $900,000 in 2014 wages. He’s in year 3 of his 4 year $13 million contract with the Broncos.

NFL Fines & Suspension Tracker
NFL Team Salary Cap Tracker
2014 NFL Injured Reserve Tracker

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Buffalo Bills’ Quarterbacks: Post Jim Kelly

September 15th, 2014

USATSI_7238698_160074578_lowresSince the departure of Jim Kelly in 1997, it’s safe to say the Buffalo Bills have had a “rough go”. Now in year 14 of their postseason drought, current QB E.J. Manuel is the 10th starter since the K-Gun era.

We’ll take a look at the 17 years since Jim Kelly retired, looking at each of the 10 starting quarterbacks for the Bills – from Todd Collins to present-day E.J. Manuel. We’ll evaluate each player’s contract to determine how much money each player earned as a starting QB for the Bills, then compare to the number of wins each were able to produce.

Jim Kelly

Not only was he the perfect fit for the Buffalo community, but he was the perfect leader for a Buffalo Bills franchise. Kelly started all 160 games over his 10 NFL seasons, earning $28.715M in total. Since his retirement, only 3 Bills’ starters have earned less per start than the $179,468.
Related: View Jim Kelly’s Contract Breakdowns (premium)

The Next 10

The Bills’ have “missed” in pretty much every possible method of acquiring talent: be it a high draft pick (JP Losman), a blockbuster trade (Drew Bledsoe), a high-risk with no clear possible return trade (Rob Johnson), a fan-friendly free agent signing (Doug Flutie), or a value draft pick in hopes of a steal (Trent Edwards). At one point they even attempted to make their 6 year backup QB the next starter of the future (Alex Van Pelt). The process hasn’t come without excitement to say the least.

Why 2013 Was Different

The selection of E.J. Manuel, though a reach at #16 overall in many experts eyes, comes at a much lower risk in terms of their long-term financial future. The strict rookie wage scale implemented in the 2011 CBA gave teams peace of mind with their draft picks – knowing to the dollar what each should cost before the selection is even made. While Manuel’s $8,885,300 is fully guaranteed – it’s only $8,885,300. In 2009, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Josh Freeman with the #17 overall selection, and signed him to a 5 year $26 million contract – an average of $5.2M per season. Manuel’s truncated rookie-scale contract takes some of the pressure off the Bills organization – especially in the instance that he doesn’t pan out long term.
Related: View NFL Draft Signings Since 2005

Financial Breakdown of Bills’ Starting QBs Since 1997

Player Yrs Started Earnings As a Starter Starts $/Start Wins
Jim Kelly 1986-1996 $28,715,000 160 $179,468 101
Todd Collins 1995-1997 $1,610,500 17 $94,735 7
Doug Flutie 1998-2000 $9,315,000 30 $310,500 21
Rob Johnson 1998-2001 $18,850,000 26 $725,000 9
Alex Van Pelt 1997,2001 $877,000 11 $79,727 3
Drew Bledsoe 2002-2004 $19,250,000 48 $401,041 23
J.P. Losman 2004-2008 $10,246,500 33 $310,500 10
Kelly Holcomb 2005 $2,665,000 8 $333,125 4
Trent Edwards 2007-2010 $2,437,176 32 $76,161 14
Ryan Fitzpatrick 2009-2012 $26,575,000 53 $501,415 20
E.J. Manuel 2013-? $6,055,913 12 $504,659 6
10   270 $362,526 117

In 1997 the Buffalo Bills found their first taste of life without Jim Kelly, turning the keys over to 3rd year quarterback Todd Collins, whom they selected in the 2nd round of the 1995 draft. Collins started 13 games that season, winning 5 games, while throwing 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He earned $393,000 for his efforts. Alex Van Pelt started the Bills remaining three games, as the Bills missed the playoffs for just the second time since 1998. He was cut by the Bills following the season, picked up by the Chiefs, and would play 9 more NFL seasons – but starting just 4 more games.

Now reeling at the QB position, the Bills moved quickly in the pending offseason, trading their 1st and 4th round picks in the upcoming 1998 draft to acquire Rob Johnson from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Johnson signed a 5 year $25 million contract and was immediately announced the starting QB for the upcoming season. But Johnson’s career as a starter ended quickly, as the well-paid acquisition suffered a Week 1 concussion, and a Week 5 tear to his rib cartilage. Johnson Went a respectable 3-3 in 1998, throwing 8 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions while completing nearly 63% of his passes. But the injuries allowed for the Bills’ other offseason acquisition, Doug Flutie, to take the field. Flutie started 10 games in 1998, posting a 7-3 record, while throwing for 20 TDs, and rushing for another. He led the Bills back into the postseason and recapture the fan-base along with it. Flutie earned just $275,000 for his 1998 efforts, while Rob Johnson brought in a whopping $8.85M as an oft-injured backup.

Flutie signed a 4 year $21.8 milion prior to the 1999 season. He held onto the starting role and led the Bills to a 10-5 start before head coach Wade Phillips made the call to give the reigns back to Rob Johnson. It’s been widely reported that the decision came from the late Ralph C. Wilson, assumedly forcing Phillips to play the man being paid in an effort to save face on the risky acquisition/signing. While Johnson would win easily in Week 17, the Bills would be ousted from the playoffs in the wild card round, thanks to the now infamous "Music City Miracle". Flutie $6,400,000 as the starter for much of the season, while Johnson reeled in $1,750,000.

Johnson maintained the "starting" role into the 2000 season, but injuries and poor play found him in only 12 games, the rest of which were given to Doug Flutie. Johnson’s production dipped rapidly this season, completing just 57% of his passes while throwing for 12 TDS in 11 starts. Flutie wasn’t much better in his 5 starts, also completing just 57% of his passes while throwing for 8 TDs and rushing for another. All things considered, the Bills decided to part ways with Flutie after the 2000 season after earning $2.99M, to Johnson’s $4.25M. The release of Flutie left $4,706,667 in dead salary cap for the upcoming 2001 season.

The decision to release Flutie gave Johnson room to breathe in the start of the 2001 season. The Bills picked up his $800,000 option bonus, bringing his 2001 earnings to an even $4 million. He would start the first 8 games, throwing just 5 TDs, and 7 INT before giving way to long-time backup QB Alex Van Pelt. Van Pelt finished the season adequately, posting 12 TDs, 11 INTs, and a 58% completion pecentage. Realizing the Bills were no better off with or without him, Rob Johnson was released following the 2001 season, leaving behind $5,075,250 in dead salary cap for the upcoming year.

Now back at square one, the Bills made a splash in hopes of replenishing their most important position. On April 22, 2002, the Bills traded their 2003 1st round draft pick to acquire veteran QB Drew Bledsoe from the New England Patriots, who had signed a blockbuster 10 year $103 million contract just a year prior. Bledsoe performed well in 2002, completing nearly 62% of his passes while throwing for 4,400 yards, 24 TDs and 14 INTS. Bledsoe earned $5,000,000 with the Bills in 2002.

Now confident with their veteran QB, the Bills entered the 2003 on an upswing, starting the season 2-0. But injuries across the board factored heavily into a late season plummet and the Bills compiled a 6-10 season. Bledsoe’s numbers dropped considerably due to the loss of his many weapons, totaling just 2,860 yards, 11 TDs, and 12 INTs over 16 full games. He earned $5.5M for the season.

Eyebrows across the NFL nation were raised during the first round of the 2004 Draft, when the Bills traded back in to select Tulane QB J.P. Losman with the #22 overall pick. Clearly Buffalo was preparing for the decline of Bledsoe’s career, hoping Losman would be the next man in. The Bills also restructured Bledsoe’s monster contract down to a 3 year $18.5 million deal. Bledsoe would go on to start every game in the 2004 season, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 20 TDs as the Bills fell one game short of the postseason. Losman was used sparingly throughout the year, but was kept at bay for the most part. Financially speaking Bledsoe would earn $8.75 million in the 2004 season, his last paycheck from the Bills. Losman reeled in $1.078M during his first year in the league.

The Bills parted ways with Drew Bledsoe on February 22, 2005, adding $4,333,334 in dead salary cap to their upcoming season.. The move gave J.P. Losman the keys to the truck in just his 2nd NFL season, and exercised a $4.17 million option bonus on his contract as well. He would go on to start the first 8 games of the season, posting a miserable 49% completion rate, 1,300 yards passing, 8 TDS and 8 INTs
before being benched in place of Kelly Holcomb. Holcomb went 4-4 in the final 8 games of the season, completing nearly 68% of his passes, while earning a fraction ($2,665,000) of Losman’s $4.475M 2005 cash.

A new front-office and head coach brought in new chances for everyone in 2006, and in the end, JP Losman regained the starting QB role. He would start all 16 games in 2006, completing nearly 63% of his passes, while throwing for 19 TDs and running in another. But a 7-9 record didn’t sit well in Buffalo, and this proved to be the beginning of the end for Losman, who earned $993,500 for the season.

The Bills began the process all over again in 2007, selecting Stanford QB Trent Edwards #92 overall in the 3rd round. Despite the new competition, Losman again won the starting role out of camp. He’s play the first 7 weeks before injuring his knee against the Patriots. The absence gave Edwards an opportunity to start, and he didn’t look back from there. Edwards compiled a 5-4 record through the remainder of the 2007 season, throwing for 1,600 yards, and 7 TDs. Losman earned $1.8M for his half season of work, while Edwards brought in $916,000.

The job was now clearly Edwards’ entering the 2008 season, and he did not disappoint, leading the Bills to a 4-0 start. He was heavily concussed in Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals, came back for a Week 7 win, but would be injured again late in the season as the Bills dropped 8 of 10 matches. This was the beginning of the end for Edwards’ winning ways in Buffalo., who earned just $570,000 for his bumpy season, a third of what backup Losman reeled in ($1,900,000).

Injuries plagued Edwards throughout the 2009 season. Combined with inconsistent play, he would start just 7 games before giving way to newly signed backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick would start 5 of the Bills 6 wins in 2009, hypothetically signing the release form for Trent Edwards out of Buffalo. Edwards earned $660,000 for his bumpy 2009 season, while Fitzpatrick brought in $2.99M (thanks to a $1.17M signing bonus).

Surprisingly, Edwards won the starting role out of camp, beating out Fitzpatrick and newly acquired Brian Brohm. But with just 152 yards passing through two weeks, Edwards’ was benched, and released just a few days later. The move meant Fitzpatrick would have the reigns from here out. While the wins weren’t piling up, statistically speaking Fitzpatrick performed well. He threw for 3,000 yards, 23 TDs and 15 INT to finish out the 2010 season, while earning $2,365,000.

Now supplanted in the starting role, Fitzpatrick had a productive but not efficient 2011 season for the Bills. He threw for 3,800 yards, 24 TDs, and completing 62% of his passes. But the numbers translated to just 6 wins – the norm for Buffalo in recent years. Despite the jaded performance, the Bills rewarded Fitzpatrick with 6 year $59 million extension in October of 2011, including $15 million guaranteed. The contract handed him $13.22M in 2011, and $8 million in 2012 (including a $5 million option bonus that was exercised). Fitzpatrick put together a carbon copy of 2011 for the 2012 season, throwing for 3,400 yards, and 24 TDs while winning just 6 games. He was released prior to the start of the 2013 season (when his $3M roster bonus was due), leaving $10 million in dead money across the Bills’ 2013 and 2014 salary caps.

Once again back at square one, the Bills selected Florida State QB EJ Manuel with the #16 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. The pick warranted a fully guaranteed 4 year $8,885,300 contract, with the option for a 5th year. Manuel was named the Bills starter immediately, performing adequately before injuring his knee in early October. He would start a total of 10 games in 2013, throwing for 1,972 yards, 11 TDs, 9 INT, and completing 59% of his passes. His first round contract handed him $5,247,036 in cash for his debut season.

Despite the up and down rookie campaign, the Bills didn’t address replenishing the quarterback position until late August of 2014 – when both backups (Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel) were released to make way for the signing of veteran Kyle Orton. Orton penned a 2 year $11 million contract, $5.5M of which he’ll earn in 2014 – 5 times more than the $808,877 Manuel is set to earn this season. Despite the move, Manuel has the Bills off to a surprising 2-0 start, who sit alone atop the AFC east early on in 2014.


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The 2014 NFL All-Dead Team

September 15th, 2014

USATSI_7630134_160074578_lowresEach offseason, a few NFL players become casualties of their current team’s dwindling salary cap space. In some cases these players are traded elsewhere, while the rest are simply released. In doing so, these high paid players generally leave behind sizeable chunks of what is referred to as “dead salary cap”. In short, dead cap is the amount of guaranteed salary, or unallocated bonus money left in the current or future years of the player’s contract (Related: Understanding Post June 1st Roster Cuts).

We’ve collected a list of the player from each position who is currently counting the most against their former team’s salary cap in 2014, to form the All-Dead Team (poorly titled in terms of one particular tight end).

Pos. Player 2014 Dead Cap Team
QB Matt Schaub $10,500,000 HOU
RB Trent Richardson $6,670,836 CLE
RB Ray Rice $4,750,000 BAL
FB LeRon McClain $833,333 SD
WR Stevie Johnson $10,225,000 BUF
WR DeSean Jackson $6,250,000 PHI
TE Aaron Hernandez $7,500,000 NE
TE John Carlson $3,000,000 MIN
OT Levi Brown $6,514,190 ARI
OT Jared Gaither $4,000,000 SD
G Carl Nicks $5,357,000 TB
G Chris Snee $4,550,000 NYG
C Eugene Amano $2,067,500 TEN
DE DeMarcus Ware $8,571,500 DAL
DE LaMarr Woodley $5,590,000 PIT
DT Jay Ratliff $6,928,000 DAL
DT Sean Lissemore $1,200,000 DAL
OLB Julius Peppers $8,366,668 CHI
OLB James Anderson $2,800,000 CAR
ILB Jon Beason $8,000,000 CAR
ILB D'Qwell Jackson $4,200,000 CLE
CB Cortland Finnegan $6,000,000 STL
CB Antonio Cromartie $5,480,000 NYJ
S Michael Huff $6,208,750 OAK
S Roman Harper $3,690,000 NO
K Rian Lindell $1,375,000 BUF
K Adam Podlesh $800,000 CHI


Notable Notes

The Dallas Cowboys have three players on this list, and a total of $25,115,398 in 2014 dead cap – nearly 19% of their adjust salary cap this year.

WR Stevie Johnson accounts for 3 times more cap to the Bills ($10,225,000) than the 49ers ($3,925,000) in 2014. Only 6 wide receivers have a cap hit higher than his $10.225M dead cap hit in 2014.

QB Matt Schaub accounts for $18.5M in cap ($10.5M to Houston, $8M to OAK) while holding a clipboard on the sideline in 2014.
Related: The Top Dead Cap Figures Going Forward

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Financially Assessing Adrian Peterson

September 13th, 2014

USATSI_7463067_160074578_lowresVikings’ running back Adrian Peterson reportedly turned himself into authorities early Saturday morning, and was released 30 minutes later after posting $15,000 bond. Peterson is accused of striking his 4-year-old son with a “switch”, causing visible injuries. In lei of the legal matter, the highest earning running back of all-time has been deactivated for this Sunday’s match against the Patriots.

Current Contract Status

Peterson is entering his 8th NFL season in 2014, all in Minnesota. He signed a 6 year $96 million extension almost exactly 3 years to the date. The deal runs through the 2017 season and contained $36M in guaranteed money – all of which has been paid at this point. He has $57 million in remaining base salary to earn over the next 4 seasons.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 7.33.55 AM

Implications of Trading Peterson

Reports are now circling that the Vikings may entertain trade offers for their long-time star running back. This means the unallocated signing bonus in 2014 and 2015, and the 2014 workout bonus would remain with the Vikings in the form of dead money. The base salaries and future workout bonuses would transfer to the new team. His traded contract would look like:
petersontradeThe Vikings would be on the hook for $2.65M in 2014, and $2.4M in 2015.

Implications of Releasing Peterson

Should Peterson’s legal troubles force the Vikings to release him at some point this season, the financial impact would be minimal. Peterson carries only $5.05M in dead cap: two seasons of unallocated signing bonus proration, and a $250,000 workout bonus for this past offsason. This dead cap would split across the next two Vikings’ salary caps:


Should He Be Suspended

Should the NFL suspend Peterson, he’ll forfeit $691,176 per week from his $11.75 million 2014 base salary. It’s also possible for the Vikings to request that Peterson pay back $141,176 of his pre-paid signing bonus per suspended week. In either case it’s likely to be a minute fraction of the nearly $72 million he’s earned to date.

Career Running Back Earnings

With $12M earned in 2014, Peterson launched himself to the top of the All-Time Running Back Earnings list, surpassing long-time Colts rusher Edgerrin James. He’s earned nearly $20 million more than any other active back (Steven Jackson, ATL, $53M). And with the trending devaluation of the running back position in the NFL, his $71.78M figure may never be approached.
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Rushing Yard Leaders

Peterson has been a threat to the all-time rushing yard number since he entered the league. He currently finds himself 27th on the list (10,190), 8,165 yards behind the great Emmitt Smith. At age 29, Peterson has averaged 1,455 yards rushing per season. If we drop that figure to 1,200 yards per season going forward, Peterson must play until the age of 34, or 13 NFL seasons to approach if not pass Smith’s all-time figure. If he plays 15 seasons, like Emmitt did, he’ll reach a projected 19,715 rushing yards.

The Vikings Cap Going Forward

While the release of Adrian Peterson wouldn’t leave a huge dent in their salary cap financially, it would leave an extra-large void on their roster. Peterson accounts for 11% of the Vikings entire adjust 2014 salary cap. No other running back on the roster accounts for more than $570,000 in cap. In 2015, without Peterson, the Vikings currently have 3 running backs (Jerick McKinnon, Zach Line, MarQueis Gray) on the books for a combined $1.82M in salary cap.

So while the immediate financial impact for losing Adrian Peterson wouldn’t necessarily be impactful – the running back position as a whole would take an enormous step back in terms of production.

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Breaking Down the Rice-Less Ravens Financially

September 11th, 2014

USATSI_8072676_160074578_lowresThe release of Ray Rice amidst his domestic confrontations not only affects the Baltimore Ravens on the field, but in terms of their salary cap tables as well. (Related: The Financial Implications for Releasing Ray Rice)

We’ll take a look at how the Ravens have their 2014 cap dollars allocated positionally heading into their week two contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Positional Cap Allocation

2014 Cap $
% of Cap
NFL Rank
Running Back3$1,774,1321.35%31
Wide Receiver7$7,119,9335.41%27
Tight End3$4,746,5043.61%16
Left Tackle2$3,623,0002.75%20
Right Tackle1$531,1400.40%31
Defensive End2$3,748,5642.85%32
Defensive Tackle3$17,420,64113.24%3
Outside Linebacker3$9,925,6947.54%11
Inside Linebacker6$9,256,5987.03%5

Cap Going Forward

The release of Rice cleared $3.5M from their 2014 salary cap immediately. As of today, our calculations show the Ravens with approximately $5.983M in cap space heading into Week 2. With 6 players on the injured reserve ($2.1M in cap), and $11.3M in current dead money, the Ravens are actually in a fairly stable position in terms of their cap looking ahead.

As of today, the Ravens ahve $126.4M cap dollars allocated to their 2015 salary cap, with 40 players currently under contract. The release of Rice added $9.5M in dead cap to the 2015 table, bringing the Ravens near $10M in total already. An expected increase in the team salary cap should make this a non-factor at this point.

Expiring Contracts

The Ravens will have a need to fill a running back spot sooner than later with Rice’s departure. Bernard Pierce, the featured back going forward, is signed through the 2015 season. He joins Lorenzo Taliaferro as the only RB under contract next year – a young, inexpensive, and somewhat underwhelming arsenal.

The bigger decisions will come on the defensive side of the ball, and with their featured wideout as Torrey Smith is currently playing in the final year of his rookie contract in 2014.

Related: View the year-by-year breakdown of Ravens cap figures

Final Thoughts

The removal of Rice may have been a blessing in disguise going forward, coming off his worst statistical year to date in 2013. The Ravens will suffer a significant dead cap hit in 2015, before washing their hands of the situation (at least in football-related terms). With a core of their roster signed 2+ years out, the Ravens are primed to remain contenders for the short-term, and have an acceptable amount of cap space currently to make better on this, notably with a long-term deal for Torrey Smith. So while the situation at hand may hang a nationalll growing black cloud over the Ravens franchise, the makeup of the team financially remains bright – maybe even brighter than it was a few days ago.

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The NFL’s Best Values of Week 1

September 10th, 2014

Week one of the NFL season brought many of surprises to the scoreboard, and a few “same as always” performances on the field as well. We’ll take a look at the each of the individual performance’s across all 32 teams, then compare that production to their current 2014 salary cap allocation to determine the best values of the week. For all the geeky math behind it, read here.

Best Value Week 1 Teams


All-Value Offensive Team

USATSI_7424891_160074578_lowresColin Kaepernick | QB | San Francisco 49ers
Sure he was up against a defense-less Dallas Cowboys defense, but Kaepernick more than impressed in his 2014 debut, posting 201 yards over 16 completions and 2 TDs through the air – and another 11 yards on the ground. His $3.767M cap figure ranks 28th among active quarterbacks this year.

Le’Veon Bell | RB | Pittsburgh Steelers
There no longer appears to be a question as to who the main back in Pittsburgh is, after Bell put together 109 yards rushing on 21 attempts, and another 88 yards with 6 receptions. He also found the endzone in the Steelers 30-27 win over Cleveland. His $936,500 cap hit for 2014 ranks 44th among running backs, and 27th on the Steelers.

Anquan Boldin | WR | San Francisco 49ers
It’s not often that a 33 year old player is regarded as “value”, but with a $2.364M cap hit (44th among all wide receivers), Boldin starts the year as just that. He caught 8 passes for 99 yards against Dallas in Week 1, and should continue to draw plenty of targets from his young quarterback going forward.

Allen Hurns | WR | Jacksonville Jaguars
The 178th ranked cap hit among active wide receivers ($421,666) posted 4 catches, 110 yards, and 2 touchdowns in his first NFL week. The undrafted free agent out of Miami (FL) is certain to be the fantasy waiver-wire king this week, and with 9 targets from QB Chad Henne, his production has a chance to continue.

Julius Thomas | TE | Denver Broncos
Picking up right where he left off in 2013, Thomas has easily become the goto target for Peyton Manning in crucial/red zone situations. He reeled in 7 catches for 104 yards and 3 touchdowns against an injured Colts defense in Week 1. His $741,000 cap figure ranks 52nd among all tight ends in 2014, the final year of his rookie contract in Denver.

King Dunlap | LT | San Diego Chargers
The veteran lineman is entering the final year of his 2 year $3.7M deal with the Chargers, and started off 2014 with a bang, posting positive ratings both in the pass and run blocking schemes (according to PFF). His $2,425,000 ranks 27th among left tackles, $9.875M lower than leader Joe Thomas (CLE). At 28 years old there could be a big payday in his future.

Derek Newton | RT | Houston Texans
The Texans were one of the more surprising performances in Week 1, and Newton’s presence on the line was a major part of that. He rated out as the top tackle according to PFF this week, helping both protect Ryan Fitzpatrick, and open up paths for Arian Foster’s 103 yard day. He counts just $1,446,064 against the Texans’ 2014 cap, 24th among right tackles, and 16th on the team. He’s also in a the final year of his rookie deal in Houston.

Kelechi Osemele | G | Baltimore Ravens
The top-rated Week 1 guard according to PFF carries just a $912,510 cap figure for the Ravens this season – his 3rd since being drafted in the second round in 2012. Coming off an IR season in 2013, Osemele has a chance to become a fixture on the Ravens’ O-line for the long-term.

Samson Satele | C | Miami Dolphins
The former 2nd round pick of the Dolphins in 2007 has bounced around a bit before ending back up where he started for the 2014 season. He didn’t disappoint, posting the 4th best rating among NFL centers. He signed a 1 year deal with the Dolphins that counts just $1,859,375 against their 2014 salary cap – 22nd highest on the team.

Muhammmad Wilkerson | DE | New York Jets
At $2,187,500, Wilkerson owns the 50th highest cap among defensive ends in 2014. According to PFF, Wilkerson posted the second best pass rushing rating in Week 1, behind only JJ Watt (HOU). The Jets exercised his 5th year option for 2015 recently, but a long-term deal may be in the cards soon.


All-Value Defensive Team

USATSI_7631652_160074578_lowresFletcher Cox | DE | Philadelphia Eagles
Cox was a major factor in shutting down the Jaguars running attack in Week 1, while also getting to the QB on numerous occasions. The former 1st round (#12 overall) selection in the 2012 draft carries a $2,793,036 cap figure in 2014, 42nd among NFL DEs.


Kawann Short | DT | Carolina Panthers
Short was rated 2nd among all active defensive tackles in Week 1 according ot PFF – behind Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy, who’s $15.6M cap figure is more than $14.5M more than his. The 2013 2nd round pick posted 5 tackles, 5 stops, and multiple quarterback hurries against the Bucs.

Earl Mitchell | DT | Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins signed Mitchell away from a great Texans’ defensive line this past offseason, and he’s made his mark immediately (4 tackles, 3 stops, 3 QB hurries). His $3,500,000 cap figure ranks 22nd this season.

Nate Irving | OLB | Denver Broncos
Irving had a great night against the Colts, gathering 4 tackles, 5 stops, and a sack in the win. The former 3rd round selection in 2011 is playing out the final year of his contract on an $818,750 cap figure 77th among OLBs.

Lavonte David | OLB | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
David begins 2014 where he left off in 2013 as a productive, somewhat underrated star. He collected 11 tackles, 5 stops, and a hit on the QB this week, counting just $946,836 against the Buccaneers 2014 cap. He’s a strong candidate for an extension this coming offseason.

Rolando McClain | ILB | Dallas Cowboys
An unbelievable story, he’s retired twice, and been arrested three times since 2012 (the last time he played in the NFL), yet was one of the best inside linebackers in the league Week 1. He posted 8 tackles, an assist, 6 stops and a QB hit against San Francisco – and accounts for just $700,000 of the Cowboys salary cap. At just 25 years old, a season like this could mean big dollars ahead.

Luke Kuechly | ILB | Carolina Panthers
He might not only be the best value inside linebacker – but the best overall linebacker in all of football. He collected 6 tackles, 2 assists, 5 stops, and a sack against Tampa Bay in Week 1, and his $3,430,528 ranks 21st among all inside linebackers. Entering year three of his rookie contract, add Kuechly to the list of big decisions the Panthers will have soon.

Prince Amukamara | CB | New York Giants
Amukamara made the Giants look pretty good for exercising his 5th year option next year. He collected 5 tackles, 3 assists, 3 stops, 2 pass deflections, and only 25% of the balls thrown his way were caught. His $2,603,013 cap figure ranks 43rd among NFL cornerbacks.

Dwayne Gratz | CB | Jacksonville Jaguars
Gratz quietly put together a strong Week 1 across the board, posting 3 tackles, 1 assist, 1 deflection, and a 40% completion against rate. The Jaguars 3rd round selection in 2013 counts just $707,394 against their current cap, 92nd among NFL cornerbacks.

Harrison Smith | S | Minnesota Vikings
Smith was everywhere in Week 1, posting an INT, a sack, a hurry, 2 tackles, and a stop against Rams. The 1st round pick from 2012 enters his third year with a $1,946,876 cap figure (34th among safeties), and is likely inline for a 5th year option.

Charles Woodson | S | Oakland Raiders
At 37 years old, Woodson had plenty in the tank against the Jets, collecting an INT, 6 tackles, and 2 stops. His $3.5M cap figure ranks 18th among safeties, and brings his total earnings to $81.9M over 16 seasons.

Blair Walsh | K | Minnesota Vikings
Business as usual for Walsh in week 1, posting above average kickoff ratings, and perfect field goal numbers in Minnesota. He counts less than $600,000 against the Vikings cap in the 3rd year of his 6th round rookie contract.

Johnny Hekker | P | St. Louis Rams
Hekker found himself on plenty of value lists in 2013, and he’s welcomed back immediately in 2014. His 6 punts averaged 45 net yards, and 6 yards in returns – none of which wound up as touchbacks. He carries a $573,333 cap figure for 2014, and his set to hit restricted free agency after the season.

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Financial Impact of the Ray Rice Situation

September 8th, 2014

USATSI_7633471_160074578_lowresWith new video surfacing amidst the Ray Rice domestic violence saga, it’s looking more and more like the best case scenario for the Baltimore Ravens will be to cut ties with the once All-Pro running back. We’ll take a look from the financial side of things how this might turn out for both parties.

The Current Ray Rice Contract

2014 marks year three of his 5 year $35 million contract with the Ravens. The deal contained $15 million in initially guaranteed money which came entirely in the form of a signing bonus (paid in 2012). Last season, a $7 million option bonus was exericsed. To date Rice has been paid $25M of the $35M associated with this contract.

The 2-game suspension cost Rice $470,588 from his $4 million 2014 base salary, a figure that is subtracted for both cash and cap purposes this year. This leaves $9,529,412 in remaining salary to be earned from 2014-2016 – NONE of which is guaranteed.
Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.54.24 AM


Implications For Releasing Rice

Should the Ravens bite the bullet and release Ray Rice in the coming days, as it currently stands they would be on the hook for $14,250,000 in un-allocated cap dollars from the signing and option bonuses. This dead money would be split up as $4,750,000 in 2014 and $9,500,000 in 2015. Keep in mind these figures represent salary cap only – not cash to be paid to Rice. These bonuses have both been paid in full as of last season.

The remaining room for wiggle comes from the $15 million signing bonus paid in 2012. Article 4, Section 9 of the current CBA allows teams the option to recoup a portion of a player’s bonus money should they commit a “forfeitable breach” to their current contract (by way of retirement, suspension, etc.). However, this only applies to the Signing bonus – NOT the option bonus (one of the reasons less teams are utilizing option bonuses in their recent contract extensions).

The CBA states that the Ravens can recoup up to 25% of the unallocated dollars for a given season. With Rice currently suspended just two games, mathematically this means 2/17th of his $3 million pro-rated signing bonus for 2014 – or $352,941. Again, this isn’t a required pay-back, simply an option the Ravens have (and will most likely exercise).


Ravens Salary Cap Going Forward

Accounting for the dead cap releasing Ray Rice will incur, the Ravens will clear the $3,529,412 in salary from their 2014 salary cap. The $9.5M added to the 2015 salary cap is an increase of $1.75M to Rice’s current 2015 cap figure – a tough pill to swallow. The Ravens’ 2016 salary cap will not incur any charges, meaning the $7.75M currently allocated to Rice will be removed in its entirety.

Regardless of what happens in the coming days, Rice has already earned $28,194,000 on the field in with the Ravens, a figure that may be a final total for his NFL career going forward.

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Week 1 NFL Financial Depth Charts

September 7th, 2014

The first Sunday in the 2014 NFL season is upon us and with it comes plenty of divisional and geograhical rivalries. We’ve compiled the best list of starting lineups for each of the 32 teams (late inactives not included) and have put together a list of how each team is representing themselves on the field this week, in terms of salary cap. We’ll show the total 2014 cap allocation for the starting offense, the starting defense, and the Kicker/Punter for each team, and the total overall cap as well.

Notable Notes

  • At $66.6M the New York Jets will send out the least amount of cap dollars for their overall starting lineup this week.
  • At $105.2M, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers carry the highest cap allocation toward their overall starting lineup for Week 1.
  • The Oakland Raiders Week 1 offense accounts for just $24.6M in cap dollars 18.8% of their overall adjusted salary cap.
  • The Atlanta Falcons Week 1 defense accounts for just $20.6M in cap, 15.2% of their overall adjusted salary cap.
  • The San Diego Chargers have $5.735M cap dollars allocated to their kicker & punter combined – most in the NFL to start the season
Special Teams

Related: 2014 NFL Team Cap Tracker


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