Earlier in the spring, we examined the largest contracts signed in free agency this offseason by overall value, per-year value, and guaranteed money. However, while there were some massive deals signed by free agents, most of those contracts don’t include significant first-year cap hits. Since the later years of a contract are typically non-guaranteed, the larger cap hits are pushed to the back half of the term, as shown by Jairus Byrd‘s $54MM deal with the Saints — the 2014 cap number on Byrd’s contract is just $3.5MM, whereas that number jumps to $10.5MM by 2017 and $11MM in 2018.
It should come as no surprise then that when we take a closer look at the top 2014 cap hits, not many ’14 free agents make the top five lists by position. Instead, these are typically players who are at the point in their contracts where cap numbers are increasing, but are still productive enough that those rising cap hits are worth stomaching to keep the players on the roster.
Before we jump into the top 2014 cap hits on offense by position, a few observations about the players that show up on the lists below:
- Much has been made of the fact that inexpensive quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have led their teams to the Super Bowl in recent years, and the list of 2014’s biggest cap hits at the position reflects this trend — of the top five QBs, only one (Drew Brees) led his team to the postseason last year, and New Orleans was a No. 6 seed.
- Similarly, the declining value of running backs has been an oft-discussed trend during this offseason, but the highest-paid players at the position still stack up reasonably well against most other positions. It may take a little more time to tell if the position’s value is decreasing as sharply as it appears, or if this year’s class of free agent backs just wasn’t particularly strong.
- At tight end, it figures to just be a matter time until Jimmy Graham perennially tops the list of largest cap hits, but for now, his $7.035MM franchise tag leaves him outside the top five.
- Unsurprisingly, the top five tackles all play on the left side.
- Breaking down the top fives by position allow us to see which teams place a premium on certain positions, committing a sizable portion of their caps to those spots. For instance, the Saints have a pricey interior line, with two guards in the top five, while the Browns have the top cap hits at both tackle and center.
Here are the lists of the top five 2014 cap hits by offensive position:
- Eli Manning, Giants: $20.4MM
- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: $18.895MM
- Jay Cutler, Bears: $18.5MM
- Drew Brees, Saints: $18.4MM
- Sam Bradford, Rams: $17.61MM
- Adrian Peterson, Vikings: $14.4MM
- LeSean McCoy, Eagles: $9.7MM
- Ray Rice, Ravens: $8.75MM
- Arian Foster, Texans: $8.5MM
- Matt Forte, Bears: $7.9MM
- Mike Wallace, Dolphins: $17.25MM
- Andre Johnson, Texans: $15.645MM
- Percy Harvin, Seahawks: $13.4MM
- Calvin Johnson, Lions: $13.058MM
- Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers: $12.432MM
- Jason Witten, Cowboys: $8.412MM
- Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars: $8.25MM
- Greg Olsen, Panthers: $7.8MM
- Antonio Gates, Chargers: $7.363MM
- Vernon Davis, 49ers: $7.343MM
- Joe Thomas, Browns: $12.3MM
- D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets: $11.699MM
- Russell Okung, Seahawks: $11.24MM
- Trent Williams, Redskins: $10.98MM
- Jake Long, Rams: $9.25MM
- Jahri Evans, Saints: $11MM
- Logan Mankins, Patriots: $10.5MM
- Carl Nicks, Buccaneers: $9.357MM
- Ben Grubbs, Saints: $9.1MM
- Andy Levitre, Titans: $8.6MM
- Alex Mack, Browns: $10MM
- David Baas, Giants: $8.225MM
- Ryan Kalil, Panthers: $7.284MM
- Nick Mangold, Jets: $7.227MM
- Chris Myers, Texans: $7MM
Contract information from Over The Cap was used in the creation of this post.