A Financial Look at Super Bowl 52

A Financial Look at Super Bowl 52
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Well it wasn't pretty for either party, but the midseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl ended up doing just that. We'll take a look at a few different sides of the New England Patriots & Philadelphia Eagles, including a financial look at "how they got here", "how they're built", "where they're going" and more.


A Few Fun Facts
  • RT  Lane Johnson ($11.25M) is the only Eagles player who held the highest average salary at high position across the league in 2017.
  • K  Stephen Gostkowski ($4.3M) is the only Patriots player who held the highest average salary at high position across the league in 2017.
  • With a TVS of 98.6, Eagles' Carson Wentz ($6.6M) was our best value QB for 2017. Tom Brady ($20.5M) was 4th.
  • Acquired for WR Jordan Matthews & a 3rd round pick, Eagles Ronald Darby was the 2nd best value CB in all of football, raising his calculated market value to $13.4M.
  • With $37M allocated to 9 active defensive backs, the Patriots spent the most cap dollars on their secondary in football. Their remaining 15 active defensive players combine for $18M.
  • Nick Foles & Nate Sudfeld, the Eagles' QB1/QB2 for Super Bowl 52, combine for just $1.8M. 46 NFL QBs held a higher cap hit in 2017.
  • The Eagles carried $18.7M in dead in 2017, $12.6M of which belongs to QB Chase Daniel, QB Sam Bradford, & RB Ryan Mathews. The Patriots incurred just north of $6M.
  • Without Julian Edelman available, the 6 active Patriots' WRs combined for just $10.5M in cap. Half of what the Eagles have allocated.
 
Projected Super Bowl 52 Starter Cap
The Eagles hold a slight edge in terms of their projected Super Bowl starting lineup cap, in large part due to their recent extensions on the defensive side of the ball. The offensive cap dollars are extremely close with less than $300,000 separating these two squads, while a glaring difference shows in special teams as the Patriots have locked in the long-time reliable Stephen Gostkowski, and the Eagles picked up Jake Elliott on waivers last fall.
Team Avg. Age Offense Defense Special Teams Total
Patriots 25.6 $55,975,855 $40,900,182 $7,085,000 $103,961,037
Eagles 25.7 $56,228,227 $47,028,762 $2,352,647 $105,609,636
 
Projected Super Bowl 52 Starter Positional Spending
The Patriots have afforded themselves a fairly balanced spending approach on the offenesive side of their starting lineup, starting with an average cap to Tom Brady, a bit above average spending in their featured Running Backs and Tight Ends, below average spending in the Wide Receiver core, and a great value on their offensive line (though this will change come free agency). The integration of Nick Foles, plus Jay Ajayi's cheap trade value, in addition to a nice low cap for Zach Ertz offsets a big spend to an offensive line - that doesn't even include the injured Jason Peters.

Defensively it's no secret that the Patriots have invested "more than usual" dollars into their secondary - which includes Malcolm Butler on a great value still. Injuries have forced cheaper players into the rest of their defense though. Philly's defense is healthy, well-paid (for the most part), and very good. A great formula for February football.
TEAM QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB
Patriots $14 $4.64 $8.75 $11.44 $15.78 $5.60 $5.69 $29.61
Eagles $1.6 $1.58 $18.65 $7.02 $24.64 $23.27 $11.72 $12.04
 * dollars in millions
 
New England Then & Now
As you might have expected, the Patriots barely changed a cent offensively, most notably in a running back arsenal that's been swapped in and out on a weekly basis. They did lose opening day RT Marcus Cannon in mid-December with an ankle injury, but the majority of their roster changes came up front on defense.

Newly re-signed LB Dont'a Hightower barely made it out of October with a torn pec, however most other changes were simply replacements due to production. The Patriots defense started off 2017 in hot water, allowed yardage and points uncharacteristic to this franchise in recent seasons. They did well to change on the fly, infusing a younger, cheaper Eric Lee into the fold and finding success with Kyle Van Noy. With injuries to Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola for parts of 2017, the Patriots WR core often had less than $6M allocated to their starting 4.
TEAM QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB Total
WK 1 Starters $14 $3.28 $8.75 $11.44 $17.35 $10.06 $8.74 $29.61 $111.6
SB52 Starters $14 $4.64 $8.75 $11.44 $15.78 $5.60 $5.69 $29.61 $103.9
 * dollars in millions
 
Philadelphia Then & Now
The big change here is obviously the loss of Carson Wentz at the QB position, but Darren Sproles' injury gave way to a lot of cap dollars as well early on. The Eagles were allocated over $30M to their offensive line before Jason Peters fell off, while defensively Jordan Hicks represented a bit more pay to start the year. It's quite a story that the Eagles were able to sustain the loss of a starting QB, RB, LT, and ILB during the season, and still find themselves where they are.
TEAM QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB Total
WK 1 Starters $6.06 $5.25 $18.65 $7.02 $30.37 $28.92 $12.15 $12.04 $123.4
SB52 Starters $1.6 $1.58 $18.65 $7.02 $24.64 $23.27 $11.72 $12.04 $105.6
 * dollars in millions
 
How the Starters Were Acquired
One of the more interesting ways to break down a team in the modern age is to assess the manner in which each player was added to the team. We've compiled numbers for players were Drafted by each team, Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA), Signed via Waivers/Free Agency, or acquired via trade.
TEAM Drafted UDFA Signed Trade
Patriots 13 2 9 4
Eagles 10 2 15 2
 
Top Career Earners
One of these things is not like the other, but it could have been a lot worse. Brady's averaging just under $11M per year over his career. If he plays out 2018 he'll raise this number to $212M, a figure Matthew Stafford should surpass within 2 years. After back-to-back sizeable contracts in St. Louis, Chris Long has taken extremely team friendly deals in both New England and Philly on the backside of his career, and has vowed to donate his entire $1M salary this year to education charity.
Player Team POs Age YOE Career Earnings
Tom Brady NE QB 40 18 $197,166,804
Jason Peters* PHI OT 36 14 $98,721,983
Chris Long PHI DE 32 10 $89,360,162
David Harris NE LB 34 11 $58,212,608
Fletcher Cox PHI DT 27 6 $46,590,246
» View our Career Earnings Tracker
 
New England Going Forward

According to our data the Patriots have 51 contracts already signed in 2018, with around $19M in Top 51 cap space to work with currently. They have some work to do in terms of locking in or replacing some key pieces to their starting lineup though, beginning with the offensive line - as LT Nate Solder, depth tackles LaAdrian Waddle & Cameron Fleming are all on expiring deals. Elsewhere, their RB core is in need of a rebuild with Dion Lewis & Rex Burkhead heading to free agency, and Mike Gillislee a likely release candidate. Defensively the big name to watch is CB Malcolm Butler, who was nearly traded last offseason, and will likely price himself out of the Patriots capabilities this time around.

Going forward, the Patriots never pay top dollar for a big name receiver, so it's not expected that Brandin Cooks will sign a 5 year $65M+ contract anytime soon, but stranger things have happened. Patrick Chung has been an extremely efficient strong safety, and and heck of a value on a $2.7M per year deal since 2015. Even at 30, he's inline to double that.

The Patriots always make a few summer moves that raise eyebrows, but these bubble candidates probably speak for themselves this time around. Mike Gillislee was a good depth signing as New England wasn't sure what they would have elsewhere, but he seems unlikely he remains on a $2M+ cap hit. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett (and Dwayne Allen for that matter).

Notable Free Agents
TEAM POS AGE Market Value
Malcolm Butler CB 27 $13M
Nate Solder OT 29 $13.2M
Dion Lewis RB 27 $5M
» View All Patriots' Free Agents
Extension Candidates
TEAM POS AGE Market Value
Brandin Cooks WR 27 $13M
Patrick Chung S 30 $5.7M
Malcom Brown DT 23 $11.8M
Roster Bubble Candidates
TEAM POS AGE 2018 Cap
Mike Gillislee RB 27 $2,181,250
Martellus Bennett TE 31 $6,187,500
Alan Branch DT 33 $4,550,000
» View all 2018 Roster Bubble Candidates
 
Philadelphia Going Forward

The Eagles have 50+ contracts signed to 2018, but are also in a bit of cap trouble (projected -$4M in Top 51 space). They'll have work to do to get the ship in shape for another go next season, but have already begun to work at it, extending WR Alshon Jeffery. Philly will have a few tough decisions to make when it comes to departing free agents, as CB Patrick Robinson had a fantastic season on a minimium salary, but will be 30+ years old. Nigel Bradham is a proven leader in Jim Schwartz's defense, but could outprice himself on the open market. And Trey Burton was a fantastic complement to an injured Zach Ertz, but may find a starting role somewhere else in 2018.

Looking ahead the chicken is coming home to roost soon on Brandon Graham, who has been one of the best values in all of football over the past 3 seasons. He's eyeing a top-dollar contract in the next 24 months. Philly stands to have great value in Ajayi for 2018 ($705,000), but may consider an extension to lock him in for a stretch run with Wentz and co. The Eagles acquired Ronald Darby this past summer and he showed he's capable of being their CB1 going forward - though that will come with a pricetag soon. He's a franchise tag candidate for 2019.

With cap space an issue, names will need to fall off the board this March, and it won't be easy. Foles makes the bubble list because he's a backup quarterback with a sizeable cap hit - but his deal also contains $5.4M in dead cap, and it's now not a certainty that Carson Wentz will be healthy for the 2018 season. Still, with value in hand, Foles may be tradeable to teams who swing and miss in free agency. The big name to watch will be OT Jason Peters who even at 35+ has proven to be a Pro Bowl caliber blindside blocker. A nasty injury shortened his 2017, and a sizeable cap hit puts his 2018 in question.

Notable Free Agents
TEAM POS AGE Market Value
Patrick Robinson CB 30 $6.7M
Nigel Bradham LB 28 $5.9M
Trey Burton TE 26 $7M
» View All Eagles' Free Agents
Extension Candidates
TEAM POS AGE Market Value
Brandon Graham DE 29 $16.6M
Jay Ajayi RB 24 $5.1M
Ronald Darby CB 24 $13.4M
Roster Bubble Candidates
TEAM POS AGE 2018 Cap
Nick Foles QB 29 $7,600,000
Jason Peters OT 36 $11,666,666
Brent Celek TE 33 $5,000,000
» View all 2018 Roster Bubble Candidates