After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.
As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.
Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:
- T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
- Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
- Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
- Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
- Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
- Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
- Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
- Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
- Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
- Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
- C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
- Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
- Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
- Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
- DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
- Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
- Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
- J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
- Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
- Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
- Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
- Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
- Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
- Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
- Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
- Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
- Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
- After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
- The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
- It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
- To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
- Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
- Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.
10 comments on “Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense”
That Williams contract is wild. Even getting out of it after this year will saddle them with another $8 million in dead cap. Perfectly good player, but Gettleman went overboard.
Given the enormous media pressure that New York based teams face, it’s not surprising that GMs often struggle with fiscal restraint. We’ve seen this in all the pro sports before and will likely see it again.
(1) What “enormous media pressure”? NYC tabloids are a shell of what they were 20 years ago. Talk radio panders to those with a low IQ.
(2) The NFL is not the Premier League or even baseball. That said, the Jets have shown fiscal restraint while rebuilding their team.
New York teams face pressure, but it’s a salary cap sport and Gettleman wildly ignored value. He shouldn’t have even traded what he did for Williams, given where the team was. That contract feels like a combination of doubling down on his own trade and satisfying his fetish for linemen.
The Dallas Cowboys are under a lot more pressure — they haven’t been to a Super Bowl since the days of Aikman.
But the Cowboys’ GM is never on the hot seat.
The Dallas media are still stumbling around the grassy knoll looking for another conspiracy angle. They aren’t in the same league as the New York reporters.
He is a very good player, but at times he’s a great one. He’s just never been consistently dominant, and I honestly don’t know how much of that is him and how much if that is having little help around him. While I don’t condone the contract he got, I guess I can understand the thought behind the gamble.
To spend so much money on Williams and a first rounder on Lawrence, then still have to invest a second rounder and a first rounder in back to back years because their pass rush is still bereft, speaks to bad value. Good player, sure, but not a good use of resources. If you think a guy has more in him than he’s shown, be very careful about paying him like he’s definitely going to show it.
Okwara surprises me he is paid in top 25. The injuries really slowed him, not sure on dead money if we cut him.