Earlier this month, I took a closer look at the top 2015 NFL cap hits by position, checking in on offensive players, defensive players, and special-teamers. Those lists revealed some interesting details about how teams around the NFL are delegating their spending for the 2015 season, with some clubs focusing heavily on certain sides of the ball or specific positions, while others spread out their cap room enough that they barely showed up on any of the top-10 positional lists.
Starting this week, we’ll shift our focus to those individual teams, examining each club’s top 10 cap commitments for the 2015 season. We’ll break it down by division, allowing us to make a few observations about each team’s largest cap numbers for the coming year.
First up? The NFC East. Let’s dive in….
- Tony Romo, QB: $14,973,000
- Dez Bryant, WR: $12,823,000
- Brandon Carr, CB: $12,717,000
- Jason Witten, TE: $8,512,000
- Sean Lee, LB: $5,450,000
- Morris Claiborne, CB: $5,175,069
- Miles Austin, WR: $5,106,200 (dead money)
- Tyron Smith, LT: $5,039,000
- Orlando Scandrick, CB: $4,382,271
- Doug Free, RT: $3,980,000 (dead money)
Of the four teams in the NFC East, only the Cowboys have multiple dead money charges within their top 10 cap hits for the coming year. Unlike Austin, Free is still on the roster, but his previous deal voided after the 2014 season, leaving some dead money on Dallas’ books while the club signed him to a new contract. If we take into account Free’s new contract, which has a $3MM cap number this year, he’s counting for nearly $7MM against the Cowboys’ cap.
Elsewhere on the list, the Cowboys devote significant cap room to the positions you’d expect — quarterback, wide receiver, left tackle, and cornerback. There are no Russell Wilson-esque bargains in the East, where three of the four teams have their quarterbacks at No. 1 on their list of 2015 cap commitments. As such, it makes sense that cornerbacks would be high on each club’s list as well. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, their two highest-paid CBs have either had trouble staying on the field or haven’t been as effective as anticipated, given their price tags.
Bryant’s and Carr’s cap charges could change before the regular season begins, if the former reaches a long-term agreement with the club or the latter agrees to rework his contract.
New York Giants:
- Eli Manning, QB: $19,750,000
- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE: $14,813,000
- Victor Cruz, WR: $8,125,000
- Will Beatty, LT: $8,050,000
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB: $7,250,000
- Prince Amukamara, CB: $6,898,000
- Jon Beason, LB: $4,154,166
- Jameel McClain, LB: $3,400,000
- David Baas, C: $3,225,000 (dead money)
- Steve Weatherford, P: $3,075,000
The total cost for the Giants’ top 10 cap hits is nearly $79MM, higher than any other team in the NFC East. That figure is largely impacted by Manning’s cap charge, which is approaching $20MM as he enters the final year of his contract. The club could ultimately reduce that figure if Manning signs an extension this year, but it’s not a necessity.
What’s interesting about the Giants’ list is how many question marks there are here — of course, the team won’t get anything out of Baas, whose cap hit is made up of dead money, but there may be concerns about other players here too. A torn pectoral figures to keep Beatty sidelined until November, and Beason, Amukamara, and Cruz are among the players who are coming off serious, season-ending injuries, though they’re expected to be ready to contribute this fall. The Giants’ success this year may hinge significantly on whether those high-priced players are fully recovered.
Also worth noting: New York is the only team in the NFC East with a special teams player in its top 10 cap hits for 2015, as Weatherford sneaks onto the list.
- Sam Bradford, QB: $12,985,000
- Jason Peters, LT: $9,050,000
- Byron Maxwell, CB: $8,700,000
- Connor Barwin, OLB: $7,000,000
- Brandon Graham, OLB: $6,000,000
- Malcolm Jenkins, S: $5,666,666
- Lane Johnson, RT: $5,225,974
- DeMarco Murray, RB: $5,000,000
- Brent Celek, TE: $4,800,000
- Riley Cooper, WR: $4,800,000
One silver lining of the exodus of highly-paid veterans like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Evan Mathis, and Jeremy Maclin? The total cost of the Eagles’ top 10 cap hits for 2015 is the lowest in their division, at just over $69MM, allowing the club to spread out moderate salaries to more players further down on the roster. While the Cowboys and Giants have multiple players with cap numbers exceeding $12MM, the Eagles’ second-largest hit barely surpasses $9MM.
The work the Eagles did this past offseason is reflected heavily on this list, as major free agent signings like Maxwell and Murray show up here. Even Graham, who has spent his career with the Eagles, can be considered a free agent addition since he talked to other teams before returning to Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, I was a little surprised to see Celek and Cooper, a pair of steady but unspectacular veteran pass catchers, crack the top 10 here. Younger, cheaper players like Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor may end up producing better numbers, but if Bradford is going to succeed in Philadelphia, he’ll likely need the veterans to chip in as well.
- Trent Williams, LT: $14,230,393
- Pierre Garcon, WR: $9,700,000
- Desean Jackson, WR: $9,250,000
- Ryan Kerrigan, OLB: $7,038,000
- Robert Griffin III, QB: $6,719,713
- Jason Hatcher, DT: $5,203,125
- DeAngelo Hall, CB: $4,812,500
- Kory Lichtensteiger, C: $4,300,000
- Chris Culliver, CB: $4,250,000
- Stephen Paea, DT: $4,250,000
Like Philadelphia, Washington has some new additions show up on its list, and the money spent on Culliver and Paea reflects the team’s dedication to investing in and improving its defense. Still, the club’s top three cap numbers belong to offensive players, including a pair of wide receivers.
The fact that Washington is the only franchise in the NFC East without an expensive quarterback allows for a little more spending flexibility elsewhere, but the team’s QB situation is also arguably the shakiest in the division. One might wonder if it’s worth dedicating so much cap room to playmaking receivers like Garcon and Jackson, when it’s not clear which of Washington’s quarterbacks is capable of consistently getting them the ball.
As for the No. 1 player on this list, Williams is in the final year of his contract, so we could see his number reduced if he signs an extension. Either way, he’ll likely be much further down on next year’s top 10 list, if he’s on it at all.
Over The Cap was used in the creation of this post.