2021 Opening Week Positional Spending Breakdown

2021 Opening Week Positional Spending Breakdown

A comprehensive guide to how 2021 NFL rosters are broken down positionally, including a dive into full rosters, and projected Week 1 starting groups.


Related & Relevant Links

 

Total Team Spending

Before we dive too deep, a look at which teams have the most overall cap & combined average salary heading into the 2021 season.

Total Cap Allocations:
1. Cowboys, $201.M
2. Patriots, $198M
3. Browns, $197M
Full List

Total Combined AAV:
1. Bills, $253M
2. Buccaneers, $246M
3. 49ers, $243M
Full List

Total Cash Allocations
1. Cowboys, $262M
2. Buccaneers, $245M
3. Patriots, $241M
Full List

 

 

Top Cap Allocations

The following teams have the most cap percentage allocated to a particular position group entering the 2021 season. Data pulled from: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/positional/offense/

Offense: Browns, 60.8%
Defense: Patriots, 49%
Quarterbacks: Seahawks, 18.36%
Running Backs: Titans, 8.46%
Wide Receivers: Dolphins, 20.4%
Tight Ends: Browns, 7.8%
Offensive Linemen: Jaguars, 24%
Defensive Linemen: Chiefs, 25%
Linebackers: Cardinals, 27%
Secondary: Patriots, 27%
Special Teams: Ravens, 4.7%

 

 

Projected Starting Lineups

Projecting any week’s starting lineups has become increasingly more challenging in the COVD era, but thanks to sites like OurLads.com & ESPN, we’ve compiled a decent starting point for each NFL team. We’ll continue to update these on a weekly basis here: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/depth-charts/

Starter Cap Allocations
Total: Browns, $152M
Offense: Browns, $109M
Defense: Bills, $71M

Starter Combined AAVs
Total: Bills, $210M
Offense: Buccaneers, $118M
Defense: Bills, $89M

Notable Notes:

  • The Titans enter Week 1 as the only starting lineup average over 27 years old. The Niners & Ravens round out the Top 3, while the Jets (23.8), Saints, & Panthers enter as the youngest group in the league. The average starting lineup age is 25.6.
  • In terms of combined average salary, the Bills, Bucs, & Browns head into Week 1 with the most expensive starting lineups, while the Steelers, Jets, & Dolphins bring up the rear.
  • Buffalo’s $210M lineup is $11M more than any other team in football. Their average starter AAV is $7.2M, by far the most in the NFL and $3.3M more than the low team Steelers ($3.9M).
  • The Bucs, Browns, & Bills lead the way in terms of starting offense spending, while the Bills, Vikings, & Bears lead the way in defensive dollars.
  • 4 teams, the Seahawks, Giants, Texans, & Ravens, have more than $8M allocated to their starting K/P. The Saints enter Week 1 with just $1.9M allocated to this battery.
  • Average Spending
    Starters: $158M
    Offense: $84M
    Defense: $68M
    S/T: $5.1M
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 215
    Round 2: 159
    Round 3: 118
    Round 4: 82
    Round 5: 69
    Round 6: 54
    Round 7: 31
    UDFA: 184

 

Quarterbacks

Financial Leaders
AAV: Patrick Mahomes, KC, $45M
CAP: Russell Wilson, SEA, $32M


Total Roster

  • QB cap allocations range from $33.8M (Seattle) to $3.7M (Philly)
  • With that said, the Eagles $33.8M dead cap hit to Carson Wentz matches the highest active QB cap total for any team in the NFL.
  • 11 teams have less than $10M of cap allocated to their QB group
  • Average Team QB Spending
    AAV: $23M
    CAP: $15.8M (8.25%)

Projected Starters (QB1)

  • 14 Week 1 starters enter the season with an AAV north of $20M, while 16 fall at $10M or below.
  • 12 no longer play for their drafted team
  • 12 are playing on a rookie contract
  • 6 are playing on expiring contracts
  • Average QB1 Spending
    AAV: $18.6M
    CAP: $12.6M (6.5%)
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 22
    Round 2: 4
    Round 3: 1
    Round 4: 2
    Round 6: 2
    Round 7: 1

Dead Cap
6 teams are carrying more than $10M of dead cap at the QB position, led by PHI ($33.8M), LAR ($24.7M), & DET ($20.5M).

 

 

Running Backs

Financial Leaders
AAV: Christian McCaffrey, CAR, $16M
CAP: Derrick Henry, TEN, $13.5M


Total Roster

  • Only two teams in the league have a combined RB group north of $20M AAV, the Saints ($22.3M), & the Browns ($21.5M).
  • 17 teams have less than $10M in combined AAV allocated to their entire RB group.
  • Average Team RB Spending
    AAV: $8.8M
    CAP: $6.9M (3.6%)

Projected Starters (RB1 + RB2)

  • 15 teams have less than $5M allocated to their top two running backs, a trend that’s been growing steadily over time.
  • RB $ Rank for SB Contenders (FD)
    Chiefs (19), Bucs (18), Bills (31), Packers (8), Ravens (16), 49ers (20), Rams (24), Browns (2), Seahawks (13), Titans (7)
  • Average RB1/RB2 Spending
    AAV: $7.5M
    CAP: $5.6M (2.95%)
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 11
    Round 2: 11
    Round 3: 14
    Round 4: 12
    Round 5: 2
    Round 6: 3
    Round 7: 3
    Undrafted: 8

Dead Cap
The Rams lead the way here with $8.4M of RB dead cap thanks to Todd Gurley, while the Jets ($4.3M) take on a significant hit for Le’Veon Bell, & the Niners for Jerick McKinnon ($2M).

 

 

Wide Receivers

Financial Leaders
AAV: DeAndre Hopkins, ARZ, $27.25M
CAP: Amari Cooper, DAL, $22M


Total Roster

  • While 13 teams have at least $25M of combined AAV allocated to their WRs, the story is at the bottom, where the Falcons have 6 WRs combining for just $6.7M
  • No team has more 2021 cap allocated to WRs than the Dolphins ($40.2M), while rookie contracts & void years make a potent Steelers arsenal the cheapest group in football ($7.5M).
  • Average Team WR Spending
    AAV: $21.2M
    CAP: $17M (8.8%)

Projected Starters (WR1, WR2, WR3, WR4)

  • The Rams top the projected Week 1 WRs with nearly $38M of combined AAV, just ahead of the Browns and Bucs. The Saints, Falcons, & Niners bring up the rear.
  • With injury to Michael Thomas & the departure of Emmanuel Sanders, the Saints starting 4 WRs account for just $4.9M of 2021 cap, easily the lowest in the league. The Chargers ($33.1M), sit atop this list.
  • Average WR1-WR4 Spending
    AAV: $19.6M
    CAP: $15.3 (7.9%)
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 25
    Round 2: 32
    Round 3: 17
    Round 4: 5
    Round 5: 11
    Round 6: 9
    Round 7: 3
    Undrafted: 26

Dead Cap
Desean Jackson & Alshon Jeffery’s departures factor into a league leading $11.5M of WR dead cap for Philly this year. Julio’s trade leaves ATL 2nd ($7.8M), with the Texans ($6.4M) bringing up 3rd.

 

 

Tight Ends

Financial Leaders
AAV: George Kittle, SF, $15M
CAP: Zach Ertz, PHI, $12.7M


Total Roster

  • No surprise, but the Patriots huge offseason puts them with $28M+ of combined AAV toward their TEs, nearly $10M more than any other team.
  • Their AFC East rival Bills sit at the bottom of this list, with just $1.5M allocated to their TEs ($2M of cap).
  • The Browns ($16.5M) have the most 2021 cap allocated to TEs, with the Eagles, and Pats rounding out the Top 3.
  • Average Team TE Spending
    AAV: $9.5M
    CAP: $7.9M (4.12%)

Projected Starters (TE1/TE2)

  • The Pats big offseason led to $25M of combined starting TE AAV, easily the top in the league.
  • Only 8 teams have double digit millions invested into their Top 2 TEs.
  • Average TE1/TE2 Spending
    AAV: $7.7M
    CAP: $6.7M (3.46%)
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 9
    Round 2: 12
    Round 3: 12
    Round 4: 10
    Round 5: 5
    Round 6: 1
    Round 7: 2
    Undrafted: 13

Dead Cap
In moving on from Jesse James, the Lions are carrying $4.8M of TE dead cap this year, by far the most in the league.

 

 

Offensive Lines

Financial Leaders
Tackles
AAV: Trent Williams, SF, $23.01M
CAP: D.J. Humphries, ARZ, $19.9M

Guards
AAV: Joe Thuney, KC, $16M
CAP: Brandon Scherff, WSH, $18M

Centers
AAV: Frank Ragnow, DET, $13.5M
CAP: J.C. Tretter, CLE, $11M


Total Roster

  • The Colts, Saints, and Eagles hold down the Top 3 combined AAV figures among OLs, while the Vikings, Steelers, and Dolphins bring up the rear.
  • The Jaguars have over $50M of combined AAV & cap dollars invested, a clear stance at protecting their new QB1.
  • Average Team OL Spending
    AAV: $39.6M
    CAP: $30.5M (16.7%)

Projected Starting OL

  • The Saints ($48.4M) hold the most expensive Week 1 offensive line, with the Eagles & Lions rounding out a Top 3.
  • Meanwhile, the Steelers projected starting OL combines for a near impossible $7.9M AAV (Trai Turner, $3M is the high).
  • Average Starting OL Spending
    AAV: $35.6M
    CAP: $28.1M (15.4%)
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 44
    Round 2: 35
    Round 3: 25
    Round 4: 13
    Round 5: 9
    Round 6: 10
    Round 7: 5
    Undrafted: 19

Dead Cap
Via retirements, releases, & trades, the Steelers and Raiders each carry $12.3M of offensive line dead cap this year, by far the most in the league.

 

 

Defensive Lines

Financial Leaders
Interior DL
AAV: Aaron Donald, LAR, $22.5M
CAP: Fletcher Cox, Phi, $23.8M

Defensive End
AAV: Joey Bosa, LAC, $27M
CAP: Frank Clark, KC, $25.8M


Total Roster

  • Despite a roster overhaul, the Eagles still have $55.5M of combined AAV allocated to their defensive line, tops in the league. The Niners, Chiefs, & Bengals all have more than $50M invested, while the Titans, Broncos, Lions, & Cardinals enter with less than $20M.
  • Denver enters Week 1 with less than $10M of cap allocated to their DL, $40M less than the leading Eagles.
  • Average Team DL Spending
    AAV: $35.6M
    CAP: $28.1M (15.4%)

Projecting Starting DL:

  • 5 teams (DEN, ARZ, DET, TEN, JAX) are entering the year with less than $10M of cap allocated to their starting DL.
  • The Chiefs have 22% ($42M) of their adjusted salary cap spent into their starting DL.
  • The Broncos have just $6M in combined AAV here to start the year.
  • Average Starting DL Spending
    AAV: $24.5M
    CAP: $19.4M (10.6%)
  • Draft Origin
    Round 1: 40
    Round 2: 17
    Round 3: 20
    Round 4: 12
    Round 5: 7
    Round 6: 3
    Round 7: 3
    Undrafted 11

Dead Cap
Kawann Short's factors in $11M of the Panthers $13.5M in DL dead cap for 2021, tops in the league, while Geno Atkins & Carlos Dunlap leave behind $7.45M to the Bengals.

 

 

Linebackers

Financial Leaders
Rush Linebacker
AAV: Khalil Mack, CHI, $23.5M
CAP: Von Miller, DEN, $22.2M

Off-Ball Linebackers
AAV: Darius Leonard, IND, $19.7M
CAP: Bobby Wagner, SEA, $17.1M


Total Roster

  • While their DL is loaded, the Eagles have less than $5M of combined cap allocated to their linebacking core.
  • The Cardinals added more fuel to an already deep LB arsenal, and now have over $51M of cap invested there - 27% of their team cap.
  • In terms of combined AAV, it's the Bears who lead the way, with nearly $57M allocated.
  • Average Team LB Spending
    AAV: $27.1M
    CAP: $21.6M (11.8%)

Projected Starting LBs

  • The Bucs, Bears, & Lions each have $40M+ of combined AAV invested into their starting linebackers, though the Broncos lead the way in terms of allocated cap ($36M).
  • 11 teams enter Week 1 with less than $10M of cap placed into their starting linebacker core.
  • Average Starting LB Spending
    AAV: $20.3M
    CAP: $15.4M (8.4%)
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 32
    Round 2: 17
    Round 3: 14
    Round 4: 15
    Round 5: 14
    Round 6: 3
    Round 7: 3
    Undrafted: 13

Dead Cap
Luke Kuechly's retirement tacks on $7.1M of cap to the Panthers this year, while Kwon Alexander's departure in SF leaves behind nearly $7M.

 

 

Secondarys

Financial Leaders
Cornerbacks
AAV: Jalen Ramsey, LAR, $20M
CAP: Stephon Gilmore, NE, $16.2M

Safeties
AAV: Jamal Adams, SEA, $17.5M
CAP: Tyrann Mathieu, KC, $19.7M


Total Roster

  • The Broncos spent much of their offseason extending and adding to their secondary, and head into Week 1 with $51M allocated to their DBs, most in the league. Baltimore & New England fall inline right behind, while the Bucs, Falcons, and Lions bring up the rear.
  • Average Team DB Spending
    AAV: $33.5M
    CAP: $28.3M (15.5%)

Projected Starting Roster

  • The Giants ($41M) have nearly twice as much allocated to their secondary as the average team in football does ($22M). Meanwhile the defending champs have just $5.6M posted to their starting 4 secondary, by far the low in the league.
  • Average Starting DB Spending
    AAV: $22M
    CAP: $18.2M (10%)
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 32
    Round 2: 31
    Round 3: 14
    Round 4: 11
    Round 5: 9
    Round 6: 11
    Round 7: 3
    Undrafted: 16

Dead Cap
The Lions ($13M) thanks to Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant have more cap allocated to past players than they do their starting secondary ($10M). Moving on from Kyle Fuller & Buster Skrine means $12.7M of secondary dead cap for the Bears in 2021.

 

 

Special Teams

Financial Leaders
Kicker
AAV: Justin Tucker, BAL, $5M
CAP: Justin Tucker, BAL, $5.1M

Punter
AAV: Johnny Hekker, LAR, $3.7M
CAP: Johnny Hekker, LAR, $3.9M

Long Snapper
AAV: Luke Rhodes, IND, $1.2M
CAP: Trent Sieg, LV, $1.3M


Total Roster

  • The Seahawks & Giants each have $8.6M allocated to their special teamers, tops in the league. While the Lions, Browns, & Pats round out the bottom 3
  • The Ravens have $8.7M of cap allocated to their S/T
  • Average Team Special Teams Spending
    AAV: $5.4
    CAP: $4.8M (2.6%)

Projected Starting Special Teamers

  • 13 starting kickers carry an AAV less than $1M. The league Week 1 average is $2.6M.
  • 13 punters carry an AAV less than $1M. The league Week 1 average is $1.6M
  • 14 long snappers carry can AAV less than $1M. The league Week 1 average is $997k.
  • Draft Origin:
    Round 1: 0
    Round 2: 0
    Round 3: 1
    Round 4: 1
    Round 5: 11
    Round 6: 10
    Round 7: 8
    Undrafted: 65

Dead Cap
In moving on from Britton Colquitt & Dan Bailey this offseason, the Vikings compiled $3.89M of dead cap for the upcoming season.