Earlier this offseason, our Luke Adams examined the largest 2014 cap hits by position on both offense and defense, 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. After taking a look at positional group spending on offense earlier this week, we’ll examine defensive cap figures here.
- Rams, $47.679MM
- Bills, $40.263MM
- Jaguars, $37.876MM
- The Bills’ inclusion on the defensive line section of this list could be followed by an asterisk, as Over the Cap’s data designates Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes — both of whom will likely play mostly, if not exclusively, at linebacker — as lineman. Exclude their two cap figures, and the Seahawks move into the top three among DL spending.
- The clubs listed above (again, assigning Williams/Hughes as lineman) are three of six in the league that count three or more defensive lineman among their top 10 cap hits. The others? Miami, Tennessee, and Minnesota.
- Unless a restructure occurs, the Dolphins will certainly place highly here in 2016, when Ndamukong Suh‘s cap charge will balloon to $28.6MM, currently projected as the highest figure in the NFL.
- Another team that might stake a claim to fielding the league’s best defensive line — the Jets — rank just 19th in DL spending, thanks to Muhammad Wilkerson playing on a fifth-year option, Damon Harrison on a RFA tender, and Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams still under their rookie contracts.
- Colts, $33.599MM
- Packers, $31.861MM
- Chiefs, $30.726MM
- At linebacker, we clearly see the impact of scheme differentiation, as clubs that employ 3-4 fronts — and therefore, pass-rushing outside linebackers — make up the majority of the top 10 in linebacker spending. In fact, the only among exception among the top 10 teams is the Bengals, at No. 9.
- Conversely, eight of the bottom 10 teams in LB spending predominately use 4-3 schemes, and each of the outliers — the Bills and the Bears — only recently switched to 3-4 looks following coaching staff overhauls.
- It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Kansas City moves out of the top three before the beginning of the season, as the club could work out an extension with franchise player Justin Houston (and thus lower his 2015 cap hit), and potentially release veteran Derrick Johnson, who was injured for the majority of last season and is set to count $5.25MM against the Chiefs’ books.
- Jets, $32.993MM
- Cowboys, $27.857MM
- Browns, $25.628MM
- The most interesting section of the cornerback list at at the bottom, where the Patriots, one season after bringing two high-profile corners en route to a Super Bowl title, will use the least cap space on CBs of any club in the league, at just $6.531MM. None of the cover men brought in to replace Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner has a cap charge in excess of $2.5MM, as Bradley Fletcher‘s $2.131MM number is the highest among New England corners.
- While Revis’ deal with the Jets is somewhat frontloaded — his cap figure rises by $1MM in 2016 before decreasing in each of the next two seasons — fellow free agent additions Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine‘s cap numbers stay relatively stable, sitting between $7MM and $9MM for the duration of their contracts. As such, expect to see Gang Green on this list for the next few years, at least.
- The Bills were the No. 1 team in the league against the pass last season, according to Football Outsiders, but they rank just 13th in cornerback spending, thanks in part to several key contributors still playing on rookie deals, and two veterans — Corey Graham and Leodis McKelvin playing under affordable deals, each with a 2015 cap hit of less than $5MM.
- Seahawks, $15.56MM
- Raiders, $14.433MM
- Dolphins, $13.772MM
- Oakland is pushed to the No. 2 spot thanks to the signing of former Eagle Nate Allen, an addition questioned by many pundits. He’ll count for $7MM in year one of his deal, good for third on the the club and seventh among safeties league-wide.
- The Patriots re-signed Devin McCourty to a contract that makes him the second-highest paid safety in terms of AAV, but New England ranks 13th in safety spending in 2015, thanks to the backloaded nature of McCourty’s deal. His cap charges from 2015 to 2019 continually rise, from $6MM, $8MM, $10MM, $11MM, and finally $12.5MM.
Information from Over the Cap was used in the creation of this post.