Patriots v Chiefs, Career Earnings

September 29th, 2014

The projected starting lineups for the Patriots and Chiefs Monday Night Football showdown contains vastly different built teams in financial terms. We’ll take a quick look at the current career earnings for each member of the starting lineup tonight, comparing the player to the other team’s counterpart.

Notable Takeaways

The large gap between quarterbacks should surprise noone, as Brady has 5 years and much higher production over Smith. It should be noted though that Brady was drafted 199th, while Smith was taken 1st overall.

The modern day Patriots have been notorious for not rewarding their offensive weapons with long-term contracts. So much so, that the current starting running backs and wide receivers have earned a combined $29,273,479 – just $1,593,479 more than the Chiefs have paid Jamaal Charles alone to date.

Offensive Line
The core offensive lines for both squads have been paid extremely close over their combined careers (Patriots: $38,597,225, Chiefs: $33,019,155)

Defensive Line
As has long been the case, the Patriots invest roster spots in well-paid pass rushers. In bringing back Vince Wilfork, they’ve kept a veteran presence alongside two first round picks in Easley and Jones. The Chiefs have taken a similar approach (on a much smaller scale), propping veteran Vance Walker up with Allen Bailey and Dontari Poe, both still in rookie contracts.

Like their d-line, the Patriots linebacking core consists of two 1st round picks, and a long-time veteran in Rob Ninkovich. All are under contract through the 2015 season. The Chiefs are playing with fire in this spot, as 30 year old Tamba Hali’s $57M extension is set to expire after 2015, and Justin Houston’s rookie contract expires this offseason. Kansas City will need to get creative to keep this core intact, most likely utilizing a franchise tag if necessary.

Here again the teams have aligned their starting roster with one well-paid and one low-paid player at both CB and S. The Patriots have the biggest work to do this offseason, deciding on a future with Revis, and the expiring contract of Devin McCourty. It’s possible the franchise tag is in play for the latter. If the young guns filling in for injured members of the Chiefs’ secondary can hold up, there might be consideration to letting Eric Berry and his $8.357M cap figure for 2015 walk.

Week 4 Starting Lineups & Career Earnings

Earnings Patriots Pos. Chiefs Earnings
$152,779,500 Tom Brady QB Alex Smith $66,975,000
$2,953,500 Stevan Ridley RB Jamaal Charles $27,680,000
$2,068,950 Shane Vereen RB Knile Davis $1,431,016
$15,092,329 Danny Amendola WR Dwayne Bowe $45,075,294
$9,158,700 Julian Edelman WR Donnie Avery $9,576,500
$16,340,000 Rob Gronkowski TE Anthony Fasano $21,217,250
$8,540,492 Nate Solder LT Eric Fisher $16,337,203
$2,338,186 Marcus Cannon LG Mike McGlynn $7,237,000
$13,918,547 Dan Connolly C Rodney Hudson $3,505,732
$430,000 Jordan Devey RG Zach Fulton $524,220
$13,370,000 Sebastian Vollmer RT Ryan Harris $5,415,000
$992,512 Chris Jones DL Dontari Poe $9,386,368
$47,095,000 Vince Wilfork DL Allen Bailey $2,645,944
$6,668,931 Chandler Jones DL Vance Walker $8,322,154
$15,972,280 Rob Ninkovich LB Tamba Hali $58,773,530
$6,280,729 Dont’a Hightower LB Justin Houston $3,547,248
$37,887,500 Jerod Mayo LB Josh Mauga $2,730,035
$2,096,227 Jamie Collins LB James-Michael Johnson $1,855,908
$67,199,500 Darrelle Revis CB Sean Smith $14,116,000
$1,483,252 Logan Ryan CB Marcus Cooper $945,896
$13,130,000 Devin McCourty S Ron Parker $1,607,875
$1,040,000 Patrick Chung S Husain Abdullah $5,220,000
$15,780,000 Stephen Gostkowski K Cairo Santos $420,000
$901,500 Ryan Allen P Dustin Colquitt $18,010,000
$453,517,635 Total $332,555,173
$18,896,568 Average $13,856,466

Related: The 2014 New England Patriots Salary Cap Table 

Related: The 2014 Kansas City Chiefs Salary Cap Table

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Early NFC Candidates for 2015 Releases

September 29th, 2014


Marshawn Lynch | RB | SEA

It’s possible Lynch can do enough in 2014 to warrant another high-priced 3 year deal, but that doesn’t mean it’s coming from the Seahawks. He’ll be nearly 29 years old come the 2015 free agent season, and is owed $7 million next year. With a quarterback who’ll be garnering a major extension, Lynch may be the odd man out.

Morris Claiborne | CB | DAL

He’s due a $2,607,887 salary in 2015 and was all but benched just 4 weeks into the 2014 season. Now facing a possibly torn ACL as well, it looks apparent that Claiborne’s days in Dallas are numbered. He’ll go down as one of the bigger busts in recent Cowboys drafts, as Dallas traded a 1st and 2nd round pick to the Rams in 2012 to move up 8 spots and select him #6 overall. He’ll leave behind $5,175,069 in dead cap with an outright release (even after June 1st).

Ndamukong Suh | DT | DET

We use the term “release” loosely here, as technically Suh carries a player option for 2015, making things up to him. But all signs report to the Lions opting against signing their embattled yet productive defensive lineman to a long-term extension, meaning he’ll hit the open market next offeseason. He’ll leave behind a whopping $9,737,500 in dead money to the Lions 2015 cap due to rolling restructured money.

Sam Bradford | QB | STL

Back to back years on the injured reserve certainly don’t mix well with a contract containing $50 million guaranteed. The reality is, Bradford’s guaranteed salaries ended in 2013, meaning the cost to release him comes from un-allocated signing bonus money only. In 2015 this would mean a minimal $3,595,000 dead cap hit. It’s like the Rams choose this over carrying his $16,580,000 cap figure for the season.

Marques Colston | WR | NO

The Saints continue to be one of the surprise losing teams to start the 2014 year. They were extremely tight against the cap leading into the season, and have an insane $26.4M cap figure for QB Drew Brees to deal with this offseason. Colston may simply become a cap casualty, as the franchise looks to get younger and cheaper across the board. He’s set to earn $7 million cash in 2015, counting $9,700,000 against the cap. Releasing him as a Post June 1st Designation would leave behind $2.7 million in dead cap in each of 2015 and 2016 ($5.4M total).
Related: Complete list of 2015 NFL Free Agents

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UPDATED: 2014 QB Financial Depth Charts

September 22nd, 2014

USATSI_8012815_160074578_lowresEli Manning (NYG) carries the highest cap of any NFL QB for the 2nd straight year.The 2014 NFL season may be just three weeks old, but that hasn’t stopped notable, devastating injuries from piling up across the league. We’ll re-address a previous post comparing starting and backup quarterbacks from each team, evaluating the coinciding salary cap figures for each.

Notable Notes

11 teams have backup quarterbacks with higher cap figures than their starters. Starting QBs have an average cap hit of $8,662,107 in 2014. While backup QBs carry an average cap of just $2,312,544. Teams are carrying an average of $4,230,773 in difference between their starter and backup.

For the second straight year, Eli Manning (NYG) holds the top cap hit of any NFL quarterback. His $20.4M cap figure is $19.83M more than the Austin Davis’ $570,000 cap hit, the lowest of any starting quarterback. In terms of cash, Jay Cutler (CHI) takes in $22.5M this season with his newly-signed extension, while Davis (STL) will bring in just $570,000.

Matt Schaub (OAK) is the league’s highest cap-allocated backup quarterback at $8M. Brandon Weeden (DAL) is currently the backup QB with the lowest cap figure at just $570,000. In terms of cash, Blake Bortles (JAC) leads all backups, reeling in $13,761,680 in 2014.

2014 Cap
2014 Cap
OAKDerek Carr$976,691Matt Schaub$8,000,000
SEARussell Wilson$817,302Tarvaris Jackson$1,250,000
PHINick Foles$770,880Mark Sanchez$2,250,000
WASKirk Cousins$688,172Robert Griffin III$5,759,754
STLAustin Davis$570,000Shaun Hill$1,750,000
NYGEli Manning$20,400,000Ryan Nassib$608,400
PITBen Roethlisberger$18,895,000Bruce Gradkowski$1,833,333
CHIJay Cutler$18,500,000Jimmy Clausen$645,000
NODrew Brees$18,400,000Luke McCown$635,000
GBAaron Rodgers$17,550,000Matt Flynn$1,068,125
ATLMatt Ryan$17,500,000T.J. Yates$645,000
DENPeyton Manning$17,500,000Brock Osweiler$959,096
SDPhilip Rivers$16,666,666Kellen Clemens$1,177,500
DETMatthew Stafford$15,820,000Dan Orlovsky$635,000
BALJoe Flacco$14,800,000Tyrod Taylor$671,327
NETom Brady$14,800,000Jimmy Garoppolo$633,436
ARIDrew Stanton$12,000,000Carson Palmer$2,666,667
DALTony Romo$11,773,000Brandon Weeden$570,000
CINAndy Dalton$8,959,036Jason Campbell$1,500,000
KCAlex Smith$8,000,000Chase Daniel$3,400,000
CARCam Newton$7,008,113Derek Anderson$1,100,000
INDAndrew Luck$6,029,454Matt Hasselbeck$3,750,000
TBMike Glennon$4,750,000Josh McCown$705,469
TENJake Locker$4,004,637Charlie Whitehurst$1,500,000
SFColin Kaepernick$3,767,444Blaine Gabbert$2,011,587
JACBlake Bortles$3,755,420Chad Henne$5,750,000
MIARyan Tannehill$3,455,046Matt Moore$5,500,000
HOURyan Fitzpatrick$3,375,000Ryan Mallett$776,976
BUFE.J. Manuel$2,019,386Kyle Orton$5,000,000
CLEBrian Hoyer$1,250,000Johnny Manziel$1,499,745
MINTeddy Bridgewater$1,245,364Matt Cassel$5,750,000
NYJGeno Smith$1,140,819Michael Vick$4,000,000


*All depth chart projections provided by

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Notable Expiring NFL Offensive Contracts

September 22nd, 2014

USATSI_8033302_160074578_lowresIt’s never too early to look ahead to the next NFL season. We’ll take a look at the most notable offensive players currently set to hit the free agent market after the 2014 season.


Carson Palmer  (ARI)
The 34  year old is currently battling a dead arm, putting his future in doubt. He’s earning $10 million in 2014.

Brian Hoyer (CLE)
Won the Browns starting job out of camp, and hasn’t disappointed thus far. He’s earning $1.25 million in 2014.

Jake Locker (TEN)
He’s returning from a foot injury in 2013 and has posted solid numbers thus far this season. It’s likely he’s yet to secure the job going forward though, and is earning $2,091,273 in 2014.
Related: Complete list of 2015 Free Agent Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Frank Gore (SF)
At 31 years old, Gore’s time as a RB1 may be dwindling, but that won’t stop teams from signing him should the 49ers let him walk. He’s earning $6,450,000 in 2014.

DeMarco Murray (DAL)
The former 3rd round pick (and top PPR fantasy football option) is earning $1,431,000 in the final year of his rookie deal in Dallas. Even with the position de-valued, and injuries to his credit, he’ll warrant an elite extension or free agent contract.

Ryan Mathews (SD)
Yet another injury in 2014 will further impact his draw on the market, but there’s no doubt Mathews has shown an ability to produce as a RB1 when healthy.  He’ll likely be targeting something in the range of Rashad Jennings’ 4 year $10 million deal with the Giants.
Related: Complete list of 2015 Free Agent Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Dez Bryant (DAL)
It’s hard to imagine Dallas not working to get this deal done before next March, but Bryant appears adamant to not negotiate in-season. Dez was valued at a hefty price prior to this season, and that number will continue to rise with his weekly production.

Demaryius Thomas (DEN)
A slow start to the 2014 campaign shouldn’t impact Thomas’ value too much heading into the offseason. The Broncos have plenty of internal contracts expiring, including Thomas’ counterpart in Wes Welker. They’ll be the team to watch come March.

Michael Crabtree (SF)
Healthy again after a devastating 2013 injury, Crabtree should continue to raise his stock in the coming weeks. With an aging Anquan Boldin & Vernon Davis, a long-term deal for Crabtree makes sense in San Francisco.
Related: Complete list of 2015 Free Agent Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Julius Thomas (DEN)
Thomas continues to play himself into a great situation for his upcoming contract. He’s been one of the best values in football over the past 3 seasons, earning just $645,000 in 2014.

Jermaine Gresham (CIN)
He was primed to have his role reduced with the breakout of Tyler Eifert – but injuries have thrown him back into a big role, and he’s making it count. He’ll be considered for a TE1 on other franchise if he hits the market, earning $3,610,750 with the Bengals in 2014.
Related: Complete list of 2015 Free Agent Tight Ends

Offensive Line

King Dunlap (OT, SD)
Dunlap’s consistency on the left side of the line is certainly a large factor to the Chargers early success in 2014. He’ll be 30 years old next offseason, earning $1.95 million this season.

Derek Newton (OT, HOU)
The former 7th round pick has come full circle in 2014, the final year of his rookie contract with the Texans. It’s likely Houston opts to lock him up for the immediate future, at a higher pricetag than the $1,431,000 he’s earning this season.

Clint Boling (G, CIN)
The former 4th round pick in 2011 is having a breakout year in Cincinnati thus far, working on the left side of the line. He’s currently rated the 9th best guard by Pro Football Focus, earning just $1,431,000 for his efforts.

Orlando Franklin (G, DEN)
A converted tackle, Franklin has been a dominant presence on Peyton Manning’s immediate left side for the past 3 seasons. Denver might be hard-pressed to overpay for a player like this, but some team most certainly will. The 26-year-old is earning just $969,000 in 2014.

Brian De La Puente (C, CHI)
The free agent signing out of New Orleans has risen to the top of PFF’s center ratings in 2014, earning $1 more than the veteran’s minimum in 2014 ($795,001). Continued success with Cutler could warrant a long-term extension for the 29-year-old.

Related: Complete list of 2015 Free Agents

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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
Brian Brohm 2009-10 $628,529 2 $314,264 0
E.J. Manuel 2013-2014 $5,437,360 14 $388,382 6
Thaddeus Lewis 2013 $391,764 5 $78,352 2
Jeff Tuel 2013 $410,000 1 $410,000 0
Kyle Orton 2014-? 0 $323,539 0
14   $127,408,829 280 $310,487 119

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.
Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 7.53.43 AM

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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