2014: Worst Cap Teams or Worst Cap Mistakes

I tweeted out that the Patriots and Ravens are such joys to analyze and someone asked me who the worst teams to analyze are. While I don’t not like analyzing any teams because there are definitely things you can learn from everyone, that’s why mistakes are such important teaching tools, but here are the teams that I took 20 minutes to quickly put in a word document, screen shot and tweet out to the guy. Please forgive the brevity of it and abbreviations as I’m just copying and pasting what I sent him over here. Figure I might as well share it here as well!

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2014: Worst Cap Teams or Worst Cap Mistakes
Lions: Suh’s 16.85% cap hit is 3.77% higher than highest SB QB cap hit, Steve Young (13.08%)…and he’s a defensive tackle. Suh’s cap hit is 172% of Warren Sapp’s 2002 cap hit as the highest paid DT for a SB champ, so is he 172% the player? Matt Stafford’s cap percentage would have made him the second highest paid SB winning QB behind Young. Johnson’s cap hit was 1.26% higher than Jerry Rice’s record for SB WR. Their 38.56% of the cap invested in three players cost 10.73% more than the 2002 Bucs, who spent the most ever for a SB champ. Their lack of roster depth was killer and which is what would have stopped them from winning a Super Bowl had they even gotten out of that first round. Their top heavy spending caused every cap hit from number four through thirty to be below the SB average for that slot.

Cowboys: Too much dead money which was caused by years of mortgaging their contracts and just kicking the can down the road. I always use the metaphor about the Cowboys that they’ve been running their team like the federal government, they knew they had problems, but just kept and keep pushing them to a later date. With the money they did have, they build an offense that was almost identical to the 1995 team, which was a beautiful sight to see, but their lack of spending on their defense was what caught up to them in the playoffs.

(Imagine how good the Cowboys and Lions could have been if they had a more sound cap structure?)
Raiders: Spent a TON of money on old veterans on the decline.
Bears: Jay Cutler’s cap hit is obscene, higher than any player who has ever won a Super Bowl, so also higher than Young’s of course. So do they think Cutler is better than Young?

Bills: Mario Williams takes up 14.14% of the cap, again, another defensive lineman making more than Steve Young is just silly. Williams is a great player, but you’ve essentially given him a contract that he can never produce the value of. Then, their second and third highest cap hits are Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson, two guys no longer with the team, a killer mistake. THEN their fourth and fifth cap hits are defensive tackles, which is not a position that you need to have two of your highest paid players at. Having three defensive linemen as your three highest paid active players is not a way to build a balanced, SB caliber team. Because of their Fitzpatrick mistake, their three QBs in their Top 22 cap hits took up 9.79% of the cap, which isn’t good for a team that should be building their team in the 2000 Ravens, run-first, great defensive model with a subpar QB.

Saints: Built similarly to the Cowboys, this was the year they had to make tough releases because of how they structured their contracts. Brees at 13.83% of the cap also makes too much money, even for as good as he is.

Falcons: Starting defense took up a mere 15.50% of the cap, which is about half of what a SB champ spend on their starting D. Unsurprisingly, they were 27th in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed.

Bucs: Gerald McCoy with the same silly kind of contract that Suh had with Detroit and has with Miami. Vincent Jackson also makes more than Rice’s cap hit.

Dolphins: Mike Wallace took up 12.97% of the cap…um…what? So MIKE WALLACE is worth 4.41% of the cap more than Jerry Rice? That’s not how you build a Super Bowl team and it’s why they keep going 8-8. They’ve also obviously not learned their lesson considering the deal they just had Suh sign.

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  • McGeorge

    Zack,
    Sometimes Jason writes articles describing how different teams structure contracts. For example – the Buccs use a “pay as you go” approach, though that may change with a new GM. I like those articles.

    This might be harder, but might you consider doing analysis of GMs, who are really the ones who deserve the blame. (Unless it’s the owners influence them too.)
    Now that the Jets have a new GM, I wouldn’t use Idziks data points in analysis of what Maccagnan does. Same for the Buss with a new GM. Or the Bears with a new GM.

    Another idea – analysis of a unit compared to it’s production.
    (made up numbers in this example)
    Team X has 5 wide receivers that take up 9.5% of the cap which is 0.5% below play off team averages. But those 5 wide receivers are 30% less productive than the play off teams, thus that unit is highly over paid, mainly due to players QQ and WW.

    What I’m getting at is – it’s potentially ok to have a somewhat below average (but not awful) Dline if they are way under paid.