On Friday, we took a look at the league’s highest-paid players to land on season-ending injured reserve. As I explained in that post, teams have control over how they use their cap space, but have little control over players’ injuries, so if highly-paid players end up on injured reserve, clubs may have limited flexibility to adequately replace them.
The next logical step then is to examine which teams have been the hit the hardest overall by season-ending injuries this year. Of course, a player’s cap number doesn’t necessarily reflect his importance – many of the league’s best players are underpaid – but when clubs devote significant chunks of their cap room to certain players, having those guys go down with injuries can be hard to overcome.
Listed below are the 14 teams who currently have more than $10MM in player salaries on season-ending injured reserve. Players who received the designation to return when they were placed on IR aren’t taken into account here, since those players could still contribute this season. Additionally, players on practice squad IR lists aren’t included, and cap numbers rather than base salaries are considered when adding up a team’s total IR cap hit. Here’s the top 14:
- St. Louis Rams: $30,605,636 (seven players)
- New York Giants: $22,033,726 (12)
- Oakland Raiders: $21,844,733 (8)
- Washington: $15,984,975 (7)
- Tennessee Titans: $15,202,696 (7)
- Atlanta Falcons: $14,885,479 (7)
- Jacksonville Jaguars: $14,617,538 (10)
- Arizona Cardinals: $14,230,500 (4)
- Philadelphia Eagles: $12,858,000 (5)
- Miami Dolphins: $12,567,956 (8)
- Chicago Bears: $11,210,500 (4)
- Cleveland Browns: $11,147,375 (4)
- Dallas Cowboys: $11,121,121 (7)
- San Diego Chargers: $10,316,892 (7)
So is there any correlation between a team’s “dead money” on the injured reserve list and its record? On the whole, the 13 clubs on this list combine for a 52-65 record thus far, which isn’t great. However, it gets a whole lot worse when we separate the top half from the bottom half — the first seven teams on this list have combined for an incredibly dismal 14-44 record.
Would some of those teams have been cellar-dwellers even without injury problems? Most likely. It’s hard to imagine a team like the Raiders, for instance, as even a .500 squad if they’d stayed completely healthy. Still, a few of those clubs were expected to compete for playoff spots, and the fact that they’ve fallen well out of contention likely has at least something to do with how much of their cap space is currently being devoted to players who aren’t actually playing.
Information from Over The Cap was used in the creation of this post.