Earlier this offseason, our Luke Adams examined the largest 2014 cap hits by position on offense, scrutinizing the most expensive individual cap charges for next year. The list that follows, while along the same lines, tabulates the largest cap hits by position group. Some overlap in the lists is unavoidable — if a single player has an exorbitant cap charge, it will inevitably raise the team’s cap hit for his position as a whole.
Still, it’s important to look at how teams invest at certain positions, and how much value they place on supplementing highly-paid star players with competent depth. For example, Andre Johnson has the second-highest 2014 cap hit among wide receivers, but the Texans are nowhere to be found in the top three highest-spenders for the receiver position as a whole. In fact, Houston ranks just 15th in terms of receiver spending, which gives some indication that the team has failed to find suitable talent with which to surround Johnson.
One final interesting note: of the four 2014 Championship game qualifiers (Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks, 49ers), only one shows up on any of the following lists (49ers, tight end). This is notable because it speaks to the importance of spreading the wealth — not placing too high a value on any one position and equally distributing cap space to each part of the team. Without behemoth contracts that push cap limits, clubs are able to build depth in all areas, an approach that has shown to be largely successful.
- Steelers, $21.753MM
- Giants, $21.643MM
- Rams, $20.37MM
Ben Roethlisberger‘s cap hit of $18.895 obviously helps propel Pittsburgh to the top of this list, but backup Bruce Gradkowski is no slouch — his $1.65MM cap charge is second among No. 2 signal-callers. The Giants’ Eli Manning ($20.4MM) has the second-largest cap hit in the NFL, trailing just Ndamukong Suh. The Rams are the outlier here, as Sam Bradford‘s exorbitant contract is a result of him being the final No. 1 overall draft selection under the previous contractual bargaining agreement.
- Vikings, $19.074MM
- Eagles, $17.668MM
- Panthers, $16.026MM
Adrian Peterson is in a class of his own among running backs — his contract counts over $14MM against the cap. Arguably the second-best RB in the league, LeSean McCoy ($9.7MM), buoys Philadelphia to the second-place ranking, although the rest of the Eagles’ running backs are also well compensated — Darren Sproles and James Casey combine for a $5.985MM cap hit. Just as at quarterback, the No. 3 slot on the RB list is an aberration, as the deals Carolina handed out to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart now appear regrettable.
- Dolphins, $32.082MM
- Redskins, $23.194MM
- Lions, $23.002MM
Mike Wallace‘s five-year, $60MM deal with Miami includes a massive 2014 cap hit of $17.25MM, while No. 2 wideout Brian Hartline carries a cap charge of over $6MM. Washington also has two highly-paid WRs, as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon count nearly $14MM combined against the cap. Despite Calvin Johnson‘s mammoth contract, his 2014 cap hit is only fourth-highest among wideouts, behind Wallace, Johnson, and Percy Harvin.
- Chargers, $12.062MM
- Jaguars, $11.959MM
- 49ers, $11.502MM
San Diego and San Francisco each have established tight ends backed up by promising young pass-catchers. Antonio Gates will count $7.663MM against the Chargers’ cap, while No. 2 TE Ladarius Green accounts for just $683K — third tight end John Phillips, however, carries a cap charge of $1.842MM. Vernon Davis has the second-highset cap hit on the 49ers at $7.343MM, while second-year player Vance McDonald will count only $818K against San Francisco’s cap. Marcedes Lewis, while an adept pass-blocker, is probably overpaid, and leads to Jacksonville’s second-place listing among the tight end group.
- Browns, $34.586MM
- Eagles, $30.835MM
- Redskins, $30.088MM
Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack have the highest 2014 cap hits at their respective positions, meaning the Browns top the offensive line list despite modest cap charges for the rest of their front five. LT Jason Peters will count more than $8MM against Philadelphia’s 2014 cap, and the rest of the Eagles’ line is also well-paid — the other four starters will each count between $2.6MM and $6.2MM against the cap this year. Trent Williams, still playing under his rookie contact, leads Washington’s O-line with a $10.98MM cap charge, the second-highest on the Redskins.
Contract information from Over the Cap was used in the creation of this post.