Over the Cap http://overthecap.com NFL Salary Cap, Player Contracts, and Related News and Analysis Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:32:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Analysis of Roster Building through the AFC/NFC Championshiphttp://overthecap.com/analysis-roster-building-afcnfc-championship/ http://overthecap.com/analysis-roster-building-afcnfc-championship/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 02:18:30 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8873

I will eventually be including a video blog with this, while this piece is very long, I think there is some interesting information worth looking into. I will be breaking it down in a video blog in the coming weeks, discussing some of the cap details of each of these four teams and what it all means. For now, I hope you enjoy my commentary on the Final Four teams of this year’s NFL playoffs. As always, tweet me @ZackMooreNFL if you want to talk about this! 

 

Attached below are the salary cap figures for the final four teams … Read the rest

The post Analysis of Roster Building through the AFC/NFC Championship appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>

I will eventually be including a video blog with this, while this piece is very long, I think there is some interesting information worth looking into. I will be breaking it down in a video blog in the coming weeks, discussing some of the cap details of each of these four teams and what it all means. For now, I hope you enjoy my commentary on the Final Four teams of this year’s NFL playoffs. As always, tweet me @ZackMooreNFL if you want to talk about this! 

 

Attached below are the salary cap figures for the final four teams as well as the percentage of this year’s $133 million salary cap that each side of the ball and each position take up. I haven’t broken the offensive line, defensive line or linebackers into their positions yet this year, but I think we can gain a pretty good understanding off of this just from looking at the table below.

You can click on this table to enlarge it. If you have a Mac, you can also hold down command and click on it to have it open in another window or tab.

 

Table 1

(Click on the table to enlarge it.)

Final Four FULL Table

I’ll break this down by just giving you guys some of the notes of what I gathered from the information above and I hope you guys will share some of your thoughts in the comment section.

QB Strategies

These teams are pretty good examples of the two main quarterback strategies of the new CBA. The Packers and the Patriots are a part of the big-money, elite veteran quarterback group, while the Seahawks and Colts have elite quarterbacks on their rookie deals.

Table 2

 

2014 QB Cap Percentages

 

  • As you can see from the table above, everyone from the Cowboys up have gone all-in on their quarterbacks, giving them big money and believing they can lead them to a championship. The Rams are the outlier here as they drafted Sam Bradford in the last draft before the new rookie contracts and show the excess and insanity of the way things were pre-2011. Paying quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning money before they even practice with your team created an insane value model that needed to be corrected, and it was. I believe that this new system allows teams to more easily compete with a rookie quarterback, which created more parity and allowed the teams to construct a roster with the parts that can help maximize their quarterbacks talent.

 

  • Low-cost QB model is what helped the Patriots start their dynasty in the early-2000s. Now, I know that Bledsoe signed a 10-year, $103 million contract before the 2001 season, which was the richest contract in NFL history at the time, but upon releasing him, they had Tom Brady at very manageable cap figures. Brady signed a new contract after the February 2002 Super Bowl win and Bledsoe was off the books at the end of the 2002 season. Brady only cost 0.47% of the Patriots salary cap during that 2001 Super Bowl season.

When the Pats won the Super Bowl after the 2003 and 2004 seasons, Brady took up 4.4 and 6.3 percent of their salary cap. To compare to this year, in 2003, the Patriots got Brady for the same relative cost that the Bills got EJ Manuel for this year and in 2004, his relative cost was around what Cam Newton cost the Panthers this year. Brady’s new deal basically put him around what the market value for a young quarterback on his rookie deal should cost, Andrew Luck currently takes up 7.4% of the Colts cap.

 

  • In 2007, the Patriots got Brady at an unnaturally low cap hit, one that only took up 6.7% of their cap due to him restructuring his deal to allow them to sign Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth, their three leading receivers during that undefeated campaign. Together, these three cost a relatively cheap $7.48 million, which was 6.9% of the cap that year.

 

  • I think that the lower cost for rookie quarterbacks has increased the parity in the NFL. It’s definitely made it easier for bad teams to turn things around by choosing the right quarterback. In 2014, year 3 of Andrew Luck’s career, his cap hit is $6 million. In 2012, year 3 of Sam Bradford’s career, his cap hit was $15.6 million. Luck had 1059 more passing yards and 19 more touchdowns, while completing 2.2% more of his passes. What’s more interesting is who both players were throwing the ball to. The millions that teams with young QBs save now compared to pre-CBA allows them to build a team around them, which increases their chance of success.
    • Bradford’s leading receivers were Chris Givens, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Lance Kendricks and Austin Pettis.
    • Luck’s leading receivers were TY Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener, Donte Moncrief, Hakeem Nicks and Dwayne Allen.

Build Around Your QB 

What I see as a major benefit to the lower costs of rookie quarterbacks is that it allows you to choose a quarterback that fits what you want to do and then construct your roster accordingly. If you’ve picked the right QB for your offense and he performs, you then typically have that player for the rest of his career considering that nine of the 13 teams that spend 10% (9.6%, but who’s counting?) or more of their cap on veteran QBs, drafted that player. This allows you to have stability at the most important position in football and construct your roster well into the future. Of course, teams that spend big money on their quarterbacks also build around their centerpiece as well.

As Jason pointed out in this piece on Super Bowl Titles and High Salary Quarterbacks, the first Super Bowl winning QB of the Salary Cap era was the highest paid in terms of percentage of the cap with Steve Young at 13.1%. So a lot of the high paying quarterbacks of the league are really restricting their team’s cap situation.

What you’re going to see throughout this is the importance of good scouting, the importance of making your draft picks count so that you can get a good ROI on low-round and undrafted players. With the limited amount of salary cap space that the NFL allows, the best teams all have some major difference makers making near the league minimum. That’s how the great teams separate themselves.

 

Defense…How to Stop The Other Team’s QB 

As many of you have seen through your own research on this site, generally teams are focusing their money on quarterbacks, the people who catch their passes, the people who protect their backside, people who rush the quarterback and people who defend the passes they throw.

Through analyzing the salary cap situations for the Final Four, you’ll see that this REALLY rings true for these four teams. All four teams spend about the league average on defensive backs with all four, except the Seahawks because Sherman’s cap figures increase next year, far exceeding the league average for cornerbacks. The Seahawks and Patriots both have two DBs in their top five cap charges and the Packers and Colts have two DBs in their top six. Everyone has their top CB in their top three cap charges, again, except the Seahawks, but Sherman will be their number one cap charge next season at $12.2 million.

All four teams have invested in their pass rushers as well. With the Seahawks and Patriots running 4-3 schemes, they’ve invested more in the DL and the Packers and Colts running the 3-4, they’ve invested more in their LBs. I combined linemen and linebackers into one category in Table 1 because I wanted to have a figure we could look at in terms of spending for the entire front seven, and differences between the 4-3 and the 3-4.

When you look at the spending for DL/LBs, you see that three of the four teams are right around the same spending figures with the Patriots lagging behind due to their lack of cap space. They Pats have compensated for this by making great draft choices at these positions, which we’ll get into below.

To finish this piece off, below is a team-by-team breakdown with some of my analysis on what each team has done from a salary cap perspective to get to the conference championship. It’s meant to be something to skim over, but please watch the video above for my breakdown of this, it should be much quicker than reading it.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Offense

  • By finding their franchise QB in the 3rd round, a player who fit perfectly with what they want to do at a low cost, the Seahawks have gone 41-13 (including playoffs) with Wilson over the last three years, while having the lowest QB group cap charge in the NFL at $2.2 million or 1.7% of their salary cap. Wilson passed Dan Marino this season and owns the NFL record for regular-season wins in the first three season of a career.

 

  • They spend their money on what they do well. Marshawn Lynch has a cap charge of $8 million and they’ve spent $19.74 million on their three best offensive linemen: LT Russell Okung, LG James Carpenter, and C Max Unger. It’s no surprise to me that the only “run-first” team left in the playoffs spends the most on their offensive line. The rest of the offensive line is built “the Seahawks way,” with young cheap players, three of whom came into the NFL as undrafted free agents. Lynch, Okung and Unger are three of the Seahawks top five cap charges.

 

  • By drafting Robert Turbin and Christine Michael in back to back years, they’ve mitigated the risk that one of them is a bust or gets injured. If Lynch leaves in free agency this year, I would not be surprised if the Seahawks draft a running back early in the draft. Even if Lynch stays, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drafted a running back later in the draft. They have a great eye for talent and with the way their offense is run, they’re not going to let themselves be without a couple good running backs for the future.

 

  • Wilson’s ability to run the ball is an example of why he beat out the much more expensive Matt Flynn in training camp 2012. They’ve become almost unstoppable on the ground this season with 408 more yards than the second best rushing team in the NFL and averaging a half-yard more per carry than the next team. Wilson had a league best 849 rushing yards (7.2 per carry), which is the best season since RG3 in 2012 with 815 and Vick in 2006 with 1039. Wilson also gave the Seahawks the 15th most passing yards in the NFL, 3475, over 100 more than last year when he had Golden Tate, along with a completion percentage identical to last year. All this for a cap hit just over $817,000 this year.

 

  • While paying Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin $14.3 million to not play last year, the Seahawks came to the realization that they didn’t need big money WRs to succeed. While they still take up 7% of the salary cap with their dead money, the Seahawks current receivers only cost them $6.6 million, 5% of the cap. They even traded Harvin this year to get rid of future costs, while getting a 4th or 6th round pick in return rather than just cutting him. They were easily able to trade him due to a cheaper player who can do many of the things he does in Paul Richardson. They let Golden Tate leave in free agency when Detroit offered him $31 million for five years and they resigned Doug Baldwin for a cheaper, and shorter, 3-year, $13 million deal. While they probably would have resigned Tate if they sorted out the Harvin situation previously, they’ve still found success these past two seasons using low-cost receivers. Due to the offense they run, an offense that requires receivers willing to be blockers first, they can find receivers who fit what they’re trying to do, who will be undervalued by the market.

 

  • The one bad contract that I thought the Seahawks had last year was Zach Miller’s. He was the highest cap charge on the team with $11 million, but he took a $3 million pay cut in 2014 and a $2 million one in 2015. The Seahawks even fix their mistakes more efficiently than most teams and when looking at his strengths, he fits the offense quite well as a blocking tight end.

 

Something worth considering for the future is that there are reports that Russell Wilson will become the highest-paid QB in the NFL this offseason, so many of the benefits they have now of having a top-QB for $817,000 will go out the window. I made a shocking discovery when researching Michael Vick’s 10-year, $130 million deal that he signed in December of 2004. It was the fourth $100 million contract in NFL history and one that is still the second biggest contract in NFL history, but with all the hype that surrounded Vick when he was with the Falcons, his stats weren’t even close to Russell Wilson’s.

In that 2004 season, Vick had a completion percentage 6.7 points lower than Wilson’s 2014 mark, he had 1162 less passing yards than Wilson, 6 less touchdowns and 5 more interceptions. Vick did have 53 more rushing yards and averaged 0.3 more yards per carry, but three less rushing touchdowns. In typical Michael Vick fashion, he did miss a game, while Wilson hasn’t missed a game in his career, partially due to his incredible, yet sometimes overlooked ability to slide, get out of bounds and generally avoid big hits. Whatever kind of contract they give Russell Wilson, the money couldn’t be more well deserved.

 

Defense

  • The Seahawks have the most well constructed salary cap situation of the remaining teams on the defensive side of the ball. The Seahawks run a 4-3 and they’ve spent their money on the people who rush the quarterback and the people who defend the passes they throw. They spend the sixth most in the NFL on their DL and have spent wisely on some of the best defensive backs in the NFL with Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman. Their cap number for their DBs is slightly lower than their actual spending because Richard Sherman’s contract was signed this May and his cap number doesn’t go up until next year.

 

  • They only spend 45.3% of their salary cap on the #1 defense in the league, which is a testament to their great draft classes over the last few years. The Packers and Colts both spend more money on their defenses. That salary cap figure will go up as more and more of their defensive stars sign extensions and new contracts.

 

  • Five of the Seahawks top eight cap charges are defensive linemen or defensive backs with KJ Wright and Bruce Irvin checking in at numbers 10 and 11.

 

  • Kam Chancellor is the second highest paid safety on the team, but the eighth highest paid safety in the NFL. The Seahawks have set the trend with the way that the best teams are investing in their defensive backfield and it’s easily noticed through looking at their cap charges.

 

  • Just like with Wilson, the quarterback of the defense, Bobby Wagner, is a mid-round pick outplaying his contract in a big way. It looks like he will get an extension this offseason and it will be money well spent. Wagner was an All-Pro this year and the defense transformed with him back in the line-up. Over the last month, the Seahawks only gave up 33 points and Wagner was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month in December. This year, his cap hit was just under $1.2 million.

Just like on the offensive side of the ball with Wilson’s contract, the Seahawks will have to adjust in the coming years with the bigger contracts that Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman and Wright already have, plus the coming contracts for Irvin, Wagner and others. That’s a huge reason why Lynch might not be on the team in 2015 and why they got rid of Harvin. It will be very interesting to see how they keep these core players together and construct new pieces around them. With the way they’re handling things, I see them being good for a long time.

 

New England Patriots 

Offense

  • Of course, the Patriots spend a lot of money for future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and since he’s a great passer, they’ve developed an offense that plays to his strengths. Brady has always taken pretty cap-friendly deals, even restructuring his deal this year to give the Pats more cap room to sign other key pieces. In 2014, Brady’s cap number was $14.8 million, his new contract averages $11.4 million a year which means he has the 17th highest average salary per year of all QBs. The three-time Super Bowl champ and five-time AFC champ is humble enough to take a salary that is less than world beaters like Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and Sam Bradford.

 

  • As I discussed in my article titled “The Patriot Way,” they’ve done a great job of replacing players with similar players to fit into their equation of what’s worked in the past. The running back position is the perfect example of this strategy in action. They spend only $4.5 million (3.4%) on the position, but they’re still able to get the array of different running styles they need to make their offense run smoothly. Their power running back coming into the year was Stevan Ridley, but now it’s LeGarrette Blount. Their Kevin Faulk pass-catcher is now Shane Vereen. They then have Brandon Bolden who could still turn into something, as well as low-cost Jonas Gray who has shown flashes of great potential. Lastly, they’ve got a fantastic rookie in James White who will step into some role next year and could potentially be the starter as he’s a great runner and pass catcher catching 39 balls his senior season at Wisconsin. So, for $4.5 million they have six talented running backs and a great fullback in James Develin. That’s part of the genius of the Patriots, they put together a roster with a handful of players who can fit what they need to accomplish for such a low-figure.

 

  • At wide receiver, they’ve spent the most of the four teams left on their receivers, but they don’t use much more than Amendola, Edelman, and Lafell, it’s because Matt Slater, a three-time All-Pro special teamer is a WR whom the Pats spend $2.9 million on. Without him in the equation, the Pats spend $9.5 million, their ability to use their array of RBs, WRs and TEs to keep pumping out 4000-yard years for Tom Brady. Like I said in the Patriot Way article, Edelman and Amendola have taken over the Wes Welker role. Lafell has taken over the Randy Moss role.
    • Lafell is another great example of the Patriots finding value where others don’t. For a three-year, $9 million contract, the Pats found someone who fits what they want to do perfectly. Check out this link at the 2:30 mark if you want to see his great block that many of us missed on Amendola’s first TD against the Ravens. Even at positions the Patriots need for what this offense has to do, the Patriots find a way to save some money.

 

  • In my research of the 2013 salary cap, I found that last season’s 12-win plus teams spend 6.6% of their cap on the tight end, while 12-loss teams spend 3.9% and the league average was 4.7%. Some teams overspent on their tight ends, but there was a correlation last year and this year between spending money on tight ends and winning. This year, it was only slight with 12-win plus teams using 4.6% of their cap on TEs, the average NFL team using 4.1% and 12-loss teams using 3.3%.

 

  • More importantly, I think we’re all beginning to see the importance of the TE position on the game of football. Gronk is basically uncoverable, while even the best receivers, guys like Calvin Johnson can get covered by the NFL’s best cornerbacks, there’s just no covering Gronk with a single guy. When you see him split out wide and go against corners, you realize that there’s really no defend him, defenses just don’t have a similar athlete, he’s 6’6”, 265, runs a 4.6 and makes catches like this. Guys like Gronk, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Antonio Gates, Greg Olsen, and Travis Kelce create such size and speed mismatches that they can take over games where the defense doesn’t have a player who can cover him. If the defense has to double-team him, then it creates one-on-one matchups for your receivers. A great tight end who creates mismatches is an incredible weapon for an offense from what he does statistically and what he does to open up the offense. They picked up Tim Wright to fill the Aaron Hernandez role for a cheap $495,000 and use Michael Hoomanawanui as a blocking tight end for $1.4 million.

 

  • Surprisingly, the Patriots spend the least of the four remaining teams on their OL at $15.4 million, only 11.6% of their cap. They do spend it wisely with $13 million going to their starters who have played well this year since 4th rounder, Bryan Stork took over at center. Every one of their starters other than Dan Connolly started with the Patriots and three of their four backups did too.

 

Defense

  • The Patriots have spent the most money of all four teams on the offensive side of the ball, which has caused them to have the lowest cap figure for the defensive side of the ball at $52.6 or 39.5% of their cap.

 

  • The Pats have compensated for their lack of cap space to spend on the defensive line and linebackers by making great draft picks like Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. They also have Rob Ninkovich leading the team with 8 sacks, but only costing them $2.9 million.

 

  • They lost Aqib Talib in free agency, so they went out and got Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, further going with the spending habits that great teams have at the cornerback position. With Revis, like the three other teams left with their CB1s, the Patriots feel like they can shut half the field down to the other team, which is why they’re paying him $7 million this year.

 

  • The Pats spend almost $10 million (7.3%) less on their defensive line than the averaged 4-3 defense, but they’re right around the average for linebacker spending for 4-3 Ds.

 

Packers

Offense

Of the final four, the Packers spend the most on their quarterback and the most on their defense, which means that they have to find ways to keep costs down at other positions. For their total cap, the packers spent the whole $133 million, just over at $133.9 million to be exact, with 14.5% spent on their QBs, 52% spent on their defense 4.1% on specialists and 4.1% on dead money, they had only 25.3% left for the rest of their offense. Since they spent 14.3% on their offense line, they only had 11% of their salary cap to address their RBs, WRs and TEs. With Lacy, Starks, Nelson, Cobb, Adams and Boykin, they obviously did a great job doing that, so let’s take a look…

  • With Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn as his backup, the Packers spend the most on their quarterback position. Rodgers is the highest paid quarterback in the NFL averaging $22 million a year over the course of this contract and $17.55 this year.
  • John Kuhn was the 2014 NFL All-Pro fullback, but played only 18% of the snaps for them. He cost them just under $1.1 million.
  • The Packers have spent the least on their running back position at $2.9 million and have Eddie Lacy, James Starks and DuJuan Harris, which actually gives then three talented running backs as Harris has shown good things in his limited time. Starks is one of the best backups in the league, running for 493 last year while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. With these three, they have just enough depth to deal with an injury, but also a great backfield for what their offense needs for cheap.
  • The Packers have a surprisingly low cost at wide receiver for a team that might have the best one-two combo in the league in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, plus a guy who has shown he could be the best WR3 in the league in Davante Adams. At WR4 they’ve got Jarrett Boykin for only $570,000, a guy who had 49 catches for 681 yards and three touchdowns last year. The Packers pay $9.4 million to their WR group, 7.1 percent. This brought me to a further examination of the WR position where I noticed this regarding spending patterns:
    • Average: $12.9 million (9.7%)
    • 12-Win Plus: $10.9 million (8.2%)
    • 11-Win Plus: $12.3 million (9.2%)
    • 11-Loss Plus: $13.8 million (10.4%)
    • 12-Loss Plus: $14.2 million (10.6%)

I’m not entirely sure what to think of that, but thought it was worth noting. A pattern I saw with the Steelers and Packers was that they have one stud WR in Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson then a handful of young, very talented receivers who don’t cost a lot of money, all mid- to late-round picks. They Cowboys had Dez Bryant on the last year of his rookie contract, Terrance Williams (2013, 3rd round), Dwayne Harris (2011, 6th round), and Cole Beasley (2012, UDFA). Just like the Packers have their cheaper finds in Cobb (2011, 2nd round), Adams (2014, 2nd round), and Boykin (2012, UDFA). For a few more millions, the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd who was a first rounder in 2012, unfortunately for them, once Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton went down, they were rendered useless. The Broncos got Demaryius Thomas in the first round a few years ago, Emmanuel Sanders at a pretty good cost in free agency and Wes Welker who ended up being too expensive this year. While I don’t know what this all means, I wanted to leave it here for you guys to bounce around some theories and see what you come up with.

Analyzing this position, made me remember the simplest fact of capology (I guess that’s what we’d call it?), with a salary cap, wherever you spend money has to come out of somewhere else. This is what makes it hard for a team like the Dolphins to get over the hump when they’re spending 22.3% of their salary cap on wide receivers and 17.6% of it on Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, not exactly two guys who strike complete and utter fear in defenses or even joy in fantasy owners. With a 23-25 record since Ryan Tannehill took over, they’re not far away from being good, but they’ll have to figure out what they need to make the leap. Thankfully for the Dolphins, Jarvis Landry emerged this year, but they still have Hartline signed for silly figures through 2017. Hartline had 39 catches for 474 yards this year and had a $6.2 million cap charge.

By spending $29.7 million on their receivers this year, they spent $9.3 million more than the second highest team, the Lions, who have the best receiver of the last five years and an emerging superstar in Golden Tate. The Dolphins spend 7% more of their cap on so much less production and that’s a huge reason why they’re an 8-8 team.

  • They let Jermichael Finley go after the neck injury that ended his career, they went low cost with Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers and to a much lesser extent Brandon Bostick. Their total tight end cost was $2.5 million or 1.9% of their cap. Out of that, they got 51 catches for 551 yards and six touchdowns. Another playoff team, the Lions inked Brandon Pettigrew to a 6-year, $16 million deal, drafted Eric Ebron 10th over all last May, and have red zone target Joseph Fauria, but the $5.3 million they spent had only 41 catches for 392 yards and two touchdowns. While the Packers weren’t world beaters, they were efficient and got plenty of value for their $2.5 million.

 

  • Over the last two years, there hasn’t been much of a correlation between team records and what teams spend on their offensive line, but the Packers are right around the OL average and the 12-win plus average which is the same. The Packers spent $19 million on the OL (14.3%) and $16.4 million of that is spent on their starters. Josh Sitton (LG), TJ Lang (RG), and Bryan Bulaga (RT) are three of the Packers top 11 cap charges totaling $15.3 million. These three are a huge part of what helps make the Packers a balanced offense and help along David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley who are two mid-round picks from the last two seasons. Everyone of these last four teams seem to have one low-cost, later-round offensive lineman on their rookie deal who alleviates a lot of salary cap pressure for each of these teams.

 

To finish off with the Packers, these first three teams all have good fullbacks. Unfortunately, Seattle lost their replacement for Michael Robinson early in the year, Derrick Coleman, so they picked up Will Tukuafu. The Patriots have former Brown defensive end, James Develin and the Packers have John Kuhn. While fullback is no longer a huge position, so much so that the Colts don’t even have one, it’s important that teams who use one have a good one and I think all three teams have done their best to find guys who fit their offense well.

 

Defense

 

  • Like I said above, the Packers have spent the most money of the four remaining teams on their defense at $69.1 million, 52 percent of the cap. In fact, they spend the most in the NFL on their defense, their linebackers and their defensive backs. Twelve of their 18 highest cap charges are defensive players, they’re spending the second most on their DL/LBs and the most on their DBs of who’s left.

 

  • With Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, the Packers have two great pass rushers at their OLB spots for a combined 18 sacks at $14.5 million. They got Peppers at a huge discount from his $14.4 million deal last year, $3.5 million. Matthews is still one of the best OLB in the NFL. With AJ Hawk, Brad Jones, Nick Perry and Sam Harrington, the Packers might have the deepest linebacker group in the league.

 

  • They’ve put their money in pass rushers and pass defenders, just like I alluded to before I discussed teams individually. They were in the top 10 this season in interceptions, sacks and passing yards because of it.

 

  • Their top three tacklers were defensive backs, Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Tramon Williams combined for 306 total tackles. Micah Hyde, Sam Shields, and Casey Hayward combined for 147 more. Their defense pays these DBs to make plays and they do.

 

 

Colts

 

Offense

 

  • Colts are an example of the way the new CBA allows teams that draft quarterbacks high in the first round to have the cap space to construct an offense around him that he can succeed with. The Colts spend $9.8 million on their QBs, but only $6 million of that is invested in Andrew Luck, while $3.75 million is invested in his veteran tutor and capable QB, Matt Hasselbeck. An interesting fact is that Luck has cost the Colts $18.7 million the last three years, while Manning has cost the Broncos $58 million. This year, Luck’s cap hit was just over $6 million while Manning’s was $17.5 million. While we can have a debate over who’s the better quarterback at this point in their career, we can see the obvious value created by the extra $11.5 million in cap space that the Colts have, especially when you’re building around a young QB.

 

  • Of course, looking at Luck’s strengths, they’ve invested in pass-catchers rather than running backs, but the running backs they have invested in fit what he does well. While Ahmad Bradshaw has been injured for all, but 13 games of his two seasons in Indianapolis, he was a very good signing for what their offense needs and he was cheap. He signed a one-year deal for $2 million in 2013, but after his neck injury, the Colts got him for a mere $855,000. Through the first nine games of the year, he averaged 79 scrimmage yards per game.

 

  • Boom Herron was a great low-cost pickup for the Colts in October 2013 that’s paying off now. Due to his suspension during his senior year at Ohio State for selling a jersey, pants and shoes he had worn in a game, his went trended down leading into the draft and the Bengals drafted him in the 6th Their loss was the Colts game, big time. In the six games after Bradshaw’s injury, Herron averaged 73 scrimmage yards a game, only six less per game than Bradshaw and for only $570,000.

Herron’s a great example of something I spoke about with the Patriots, finding guys who fit what you need and are undervalued by the marketplace. In the Colts’ two playoff games, Herron has 118 yards per game, 59.5 rushing and 58.5 receiving, he has 18 catches on 19 targets and two rushing touchdowns. He’s been a major X-factor in both of their wins and has probably played himself into a multi-year deal, maybe a four-year deal that averages around $1.75 million per year. If I were his agent, I’d do my best to have him stay in Indianapolis as I think it’s the perfect offense for his skill set.

 

  • They also still have Vick Ballard, their 2012 fifth round pick who ran for over 800 yards in his rookie year, but has missed the last two seasons with a torn ACL and a torn Achilles. He’ll be back next year for the last year of his rookie deal and will only cost the team $696,140 against their cap.

 

  • I think that they didn’t sign someone to a long-term deal in 2014 because they knew that in the 2014 draft of the wide receiver that they could find someone for cheap like they did with Donte Moncrief. They drafted him in the third round, two picks before the spot where they drafted TY Hilton in 2012, and they cost the Colts only $1.3 million. They did take a one-year flyer on Hakeem Nicks for just under $4 million, a well-calculated risk to get a player with WR1 potential, but who has regressed significantly since the Giants 2011 Super Bowl winning year. Their highest cap charge at $6.2 million was, of course, Reggie Wayne. While I can’t say that I would’ve done anything differently than the Colts did, it’s interesting to note that the two guys who cost $1.3 million had 114 catches for 1789 yards (15.7 ypc) and 10 touchdowns on a 63.3% catch rate, while the two that cost $10.2 million had 102 catches for 1184 yards (11.6 ypc) and six touchdowns with only a 55.4% catch rate.

 

  • I love what the Colts did at tight end the same year they drafted Luck by taking his teammate from Stanford, Coby Fleener, in the second round and Clemson’s Dwayne Allen in the third. By doing this, they mitigated the risk of injury in an attempt to ensure that Luck would have two players at a position that proves to be more important in the NFL every year. They’re also, arguably, the best tight end tandem in the NFL with their 80 catches for 1169 yards (14.6 ypc) for 16 touchdowns together out-pacing Rob Gronkowski’s 82 catches for 1124 (13.7 ypc) for 12 touchdowns. Essentially what they’ve done is get All Pro TE production out of two mid-round picks who cost them $2.3 million this season.

 

  • The Colts spend the second least out of the Final Four group at $17.4 million which is $3.4 million less than the league average. Their three highest paid linemen are RT Godser Cherilus at $3.9 million, LT Anthony Costonzo at $2.5 million and G Joe Reitz at $1.4 million. They put the rest of their line together with cheap options, but the fact that they used 10 different linemen into 11 starting combinations means that this is something they’ll need to address this offseason. When Cherilus went down in December and Reitz moved to take his place, the interior line became Jack Mewhort at LG, Khaled Holmes at C and Lance Louis at RG. Together, those three combine to earn $2.1 million with Mewhort being a second rounder this year, Holmes a fourth rounder last year and Louis coming over from Miami. Like the rest of these teams, their backups are made of low-cost players they’ve drafted. The other issue is that their second highest cap charge for the offensive line, tackle Donald Thomas, was a $3.75 million charge, but tore his quad early in training camp and missed the whole season. This has seemed to be one of the biggest issues I’ve seen this year, offensive line injuries. In baseball, you can never have enough pitchers. In football, you can never have enough linemen.

 

The Colts are another team that are doing what worked for them in the past.

 

Defense

 

  • The Colts spend the second most of these four at $67.1 million, 50.5%. Just like the Packers, as a 3-4 defense, they’ve spent most of their money at linebacker and defensive back, but they do spend almost $4 million more than the average 3-4 defense on their defensive line. With this, they were the 11th best defense in total yards, 12th in passing yards, 18th in rushing yards and 19th in total points allowed.

 

  • While they were an average defense, they did it without their highest cap charge at $8 million who is also their best defensive player, Robert Mathis. Last year, Mathis had 19.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles, BOTH of which led the league. He also added 59 tackles and one safety. Their third highest defensive cap charge was Arthur Jones at $5.6 million, another pass rusher and he also missed quite a few games, playing in only 9 games. Without these two for most of the year, Erik Walden and Corey Redding had to take over the full load combining to make $8.65 million, while having 90 tackles and 9.5 sacks.

 

  • At linebacker were their two leading tackles, D’Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman, Jackson made $4.75 million and Freeman made only $576,000. Freeman is an interesting case as he was signed by the Titans as an UDFA in 2008, then played three years in the CFL before being signed by the Colts and having a combined 415 tackles the last three years. Since 2014 is the last year of his contract, he’s sure to be getting a salary bump this offseason, but a great job by the Colts evaluating talent and getting a three-year starting linebacker for cheap. Jackson had 166 tackles and 4 sacks. The Colts’ sack leader this year was outside linebacker, Jonathan Newsome with 6.5. He was drafted in the fifth round this year and had a salary of $464,000. Bjoern Werner started as well and had 50 tackles and 4 sacks at a cost of $1.8 million.

 

  • Their secondary is where they spend the most money at $24.6 million or 18.5% of the cap. Vontae Davis is their highest cap charge other than the injured Mathis at $6.25 million. Three other DBs were in the teams’ top 14 cap charges with corners Greg Toler and Darius Butler, along with safety LaRon Landry. Again, proving the new wave of great teams understanding that the players who rush the quarterback and those who defend the pass are the players who you want to pay. Their defensive backs are some of their leading tacklers, similar to the Packers 3-4 defense with Mike Adams ($635,000), Toler, Davis, Landry and Butler all being in the top-seven in tackles on the team. The low-cost veteran, Adams led the team with five interceptions, Davis had four, Toler had two and back-up FS Josh Gordy had one.

 

Tweet me: @ZackMooreNFL

Donate here if you enjoy what I do here! 

The post Analysis of Roster Building through the AFC/NFC Championship appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/analysis-roster-building-afcnfc-championship/feed/ 0
Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap Outlookhttp://overthecap.com/dolphins-2015-salary-cap-outlook/ http://overthecap.com/dolphins-2015-salary-cap-outlook/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:45:31 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8865

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: -$300k ($140M cap limit)

 

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 58
Pro Bowlers: 2
Unrestricted Free Agents: 12(6 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 14

Salary Cap Breakdown

Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap

Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap

Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap

Free Agents to Re-sign

Jared Odrick has developed into a solid, all around talent and should be able to give Miami a solid presence for the next few seasons. They should do what they can to bring him back, though he may prefer looking elsewhere as he and the team seem to be at odds. I would imagine he will be looked at as a $5.5 to $6.5 million … Read the rest

The post Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap Outlook appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: -$300k ($140M cap limit)

 

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 58
Pro Bowlers: 2
Unrestricted Free Agents: 12(6 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 14

Salary Cap Breakdown

Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap

Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap

Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap

Free Agents to Re-sign

Jared Odrick has developed into a solid, all around talent and should be able to give Miami a solid presence for the next few seasons. They should do what they can to bring him back, though he may prefer looking elsewhere as he and the team seem to be at odds. I would imagine he will be looked at as a $5.5 to $6.5 million a year player…Backup QB Matt Moore may arguably be the second best QB available this offseason, which says little for the position. He should receive top backup money around $4-$5 million a season if Miami wants to retain him. I could see that being difficult with their salary cap position but I think its too impotant to have a decent backup in the event of injury….Charles Clay is one of those players with potential that the Dolphins should hold on to, but my guess is he might be considering a one year deal in the hopes of improving his value.

Free Agents to Let Walk

Knowshon Moreno was worth the one year risk, but he couldn’t remain healthy and with the emergence of Lamar Miller probably is not needed anyway…Daniel Thomas never developed for the team and would not seem to have a place going forward…Pro Football Focus graded Daryn Colledge as one of the worst lineman in the entire NFL so bringing him back should not be in the plans for the team next year. Samson Satele was a late signing to fill for injury, but the Dolphins will be better moving Mike Pouncey back to center and finding another guard rather than retaining Satele.

Contracts to Modify

The decision made to pay Mike Wallace well above his performance level led to high expectations by the fans, media, team and player himself. Not surprisingly, things haven’t worked out and now they are stuck with a $12.1 million cap charge and $3 million salary guarantee. The best situation for all is to bring his salary down to a fair level in 2015. At this point he is a $6-$7 million player, which means a $3-4 million pay reduction. Because the guarantees have offsets the Dolphins don’t really need to consider that number as a sunk cost and can renegotiate just as if it is a new contract… Signing Cortland Finnegan to a $5.5 million contract was definitely on the high side and seemed to indicate desperation to find another cornerback. They still need corners so they probably should keep him but his contract needs to be brought down to $2.5 to $3 million in 2015…Randy Starks could be in danger of being cut, but the team should consider it a better option to bring his salary down from $5 million and keeping him for one last season.

Players to Consider Releasing

Signing linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to a big contract in 2013 was a head scratcher and they can finally get out from the contract in 2014. His cap charge is $9.85M and they will save $5.65M by cutting him. He earns more cash salary than any other inside linebacker in 2015, so there is no logical reason to keep him…It’s hard to understand what has happened to Brian Hartline, but he has become the third target on the team and his role looks ready to decrease further in the future. A $7.35 million cap charge for a 3rd target is far too expensive. They will save $3.15 million by cutting him…Nate Garner was barely used in 2014 and landed on the NFI list late in the season. With $1.65M in savings with his release, it seems a guarantee that he will not be back in 2015.

Offseason Plan

Miami needs to question if they have gotten as far as they can with this group and if they need to begin revamping the team, especially on defense where they completely fell apart late last season. Miami has 4 starters on defense over the age of 30 and 10 players in total that were at least 28 last season.  That’s essentially half of the team they need to turn over within the next two years and it includes some of their best players in Cameron Wake, Brandon Albert, Brent Grimes, and Randy Starks. Do they make moves to try to extend the window with this group one more time and perhaps sacrifice the future or do they begin a transition strategy?

If the Dolphins opt for the former it could move their upcoming cap situation into one of the worst in the NFL when you consider than Ryan Tannehill will likely end up with a $14-$15 million per year contract in 2016. The only way they can actively upgrade the roster is with big free agent acquisitions and they are only going to be able to do that by pushing more money into 2016 and 2017 with this current group. Given that the team has shown to be little better than a 0.500 team and doesn’t show a dominant trait this would be a highly risky strategy.

Instead they should consider the process of piecing things together for this season while building up cap space for a splash in the future when Tannehill may be more of a finished product. That will likely mean focusing on the draft to fill major needs at corner, linebacker, and the interior line as well as hoping to find a young pass rusher. The organization is now being run by Mike Tannenbaum, who is not afraid of making a splash, and it wouldn’t surprise me if one of those big veterans is moved to build for the future, Wake being the most logical.

My guess is Miami is working hard on identifying possible player cuts  and coming up with ways to entice those players on a low cost one or two year contract. Trades for disappointing first and second round picks would also be something that they could be open to. Actual free agency should just pick and choose some younger players with upside that maybe just need a change of scenery.

I would also expect the Dolphins to get a more defined contract strategy in the future. Recently their contracts have been somewhat haphazard, playing hardball with many of their own players and receiving good terms for players like Hartline and Grimes, but signing outlandish deals for players like Wallace, Ellerbe, and Wheeler. That may be an example of Miami picking their battles or simply going all in when they feel that there can be an open competition. Because Miami had no long term contracts in place when they began their spending spree they were also at a possible negotiating disadvantage since it was obvious they had money to spend. By staying tight on the cap they will have a different perception around the NFL and force players to choose the Dolphins sales pitch rather than just the dollar signs.

While this strategy is probably not what people expect from Tannenbaum he did go through something similar to this with the Jets in 2006. Those Jets were in a worse place than the Dolphins but it was a two year plan with a focus on remaining competitive, finding bargains, and preparing for a big free agent frenzy down the line.  I see this as a similar job with a transition being needed to bridge the gap from a veteran group to a younger one.

Dolphins Links

Dolphins Salary Cap Pages

Dolphins Free Agents

Dolphins Contracts

Dolphins GM Salary Cap Calculator

Other Offseason Salary Cap Reports

Dolphins Free Agent Simulator

 

The post Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap Outlook appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/dolphins-2015-salary-cap-outlook/feed/ 0
GM League updatehttp://overthecap.com/gm-league-update/ http://overthecap.com/gm-league-update/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 18:51:18 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8861 Hey folks, I noticed some people who expressed interest in the initial post seem to have not made it over yet to claim their teams (namely the Colts and Texans). We are filling up the last spots so I wanted to initiate a last call of sorts. We want to try to get things officially started in the next couple of days. To join up use this link and to claim your team, assuming they are available, post in this thread

If you have any questions, please ask!… Read the rest

The post GM League update appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
Hey folks, I noticed some people who expressed interest in the initial post seem to have not made it over yet to claim their teams (namely the Colts and Texans). We are filling up the last spots so I wanted to initiate a last call of sorts. We want to try to get things officially started in the next couple of days. To join up use this link and to claim your team, assuming they are available, post in this thread

If you have any questions, please ask!

The post GM League update appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/gm-league-update/feed/ 3
Podcast: Championship Games, Deflated Footballs, Free Agent Backs, and More…http://overthecap.com/podcast-championship-games-deflated-footballs-free-agent-backs/ http://overthecap.com/podcast-championship-games-deflated-footballs-free-agent-backs/#comments Sat, 24 Jan 2015 15:16:26 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8858

In this weeks OTC podcast:

-I give my thoughts on the Packers collapse and the Seahawks great setup for a dynasty

-I look at the Patriots thrashing of the Colts and just what should be in store over this deflated football controversy

-I examine some possible free agent running back outcomes

-I pick out some free agent targets for the Jets

-Plus more of your questions all answered

View in iTunes

Listen via Stitcher

Subscribe to the OTC PodcastRead the rest

The post Podcast: Championship Games, Deflated Footballs, Free Agent Backs, and More… appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>

In this weeks OTC podcast:

-I give my thoughts on the Packers collapse and the Seahawks great setup for a dynasty

-I look at the Patriots thrashing of the Colts and just what should be in store over this deflated football controversy

-I examine some possible free agent running back outcomes

-I pick out some free agent targets for the Jets

-Plus more of your questions all answered

View in iTunes

Listen via Stitcher

Subscribe to the OTC Podcast

The post Podcast: Championship Games, Deflated Footballs, Free Agent Backs, and More… appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/podcast-championship-games-deflated-footballs-free-agent-backs/feed/ 3
General Manager League – An Offseason Roster Adventurehttp://overthecap.com/general-manager-league-offseason-roster-adventure/ http://overthecap.com/general-manager-league-offseason-roster-adventure/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 05:30:03 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8832 For those of us wishing we had a bit more control over what our favourite teams do, or simply just love the roster gymnastics of the offseason, I’d like to introduce and invite you to the General Manager League.

Essentially you are taking over a team and running them through the NFL offseason from a certain point in time forward against other human players. If you’ve followed your favourite team during the offseason, or played Madden’s franchise mode, you know the process. There are some tweaks as it’s a one year league, but the general idea remains the same. The … Read the rest

The post General Manager League – An Offseason Roster Adventure appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
For those of us wishing we had a bit more control over what our favourite teams do, or simply just love the roster gymnastics of the offseason, I’d like to introduce and invite you to the General Manager League.

Essentially you are taking over a team and running them through the NFL offseason from a certain point in time forward against other human players. If you’ve followed your favourite team during the offseason, or played Madden’s franchise mode, you know the process. There are some tweaks as it’s a one year league, but the general idea remains the same. The numbers, of course come from right here at OverTheCap.

The basics can be found at ’15 GML Rules, Info, & Timeline and any questions will happily be answered!

To register please use this link to sign up

The post General Manager League – An Offseason Roster Adventure appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/general-manager-league-offseason-roster-adventure/feed/ 28
Saints 2015 Salary Cap Outlookhttp://overthecap.com/saints-2015-salary-cap-outlook/ http://overthecap.com/saints-2015-salary-cap-outlook/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 03:03:13 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8838

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: -$25.1 million ($140M cap limit)

 

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 59
Pro Bowlers: 2
Unrestricted Free Agents: 10(1 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 13

Salary Cap Breakdown

Saints 2015 Salary Cap

Saints 2015 Salary Cap

Saints 2015 Salary Cap

 

Free Agents to Re-sign

It is hard to make much of case for the Saints to really bring back any of their free agents. If they do consider bringing any back it would be the lowest cost players. Parys Haralson will play on the minimum and can be a first down player…The Saints could use players in the secondary which could pave the way for Patrick Robinson … Read the rest

The post Saints 2015 Salary Cap Outlook appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: -$25.1 million ($140M cap limit)

 

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 59
Pro Bowlers: 2
Unrestricted Free Agents: 10(1 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 13

Salary Cap Breakdown

Saints 2015 Salary Cap

Saints 2015 Salary Cap

Saints 2015 Salary Cap

 

Free Agents to Re-sign

It is hard to make much of case for the Saints to really bring back any of their free agents. If they do consider bringing any back it would be the lowest cost players. Parys Haralson will play on the minimum and can be a first down player…The Saints could use players in the secondary which could pave the way for Patrick Robinson to return on a one year contract. They should not consider any more years than that with him.

Free Agents to Let Walk

I can understand making a case to bring back Mark Ingram, but the Saints can afford to spend $4 million on a running back- if they could have afforded it they would have kept Darren Sproles. Ingram was a hard runner for the team last year, but they have always been able to find change runners and not miss a beat…Ramon Humber is cheap but not productive.

Contracts to Modify

Junior Galette has a $12.5 million roster bonus due this March and they will save $10 million in cap space by converting it into a signing bonus. Galette is young so restructuring his contract should not be a major negative for the Saints moving forward…The team has a very difficult decision ahead with receiver Marques Colston and I think in these cases sometimes emotions get in the way and that will push the team towards a restructured contract rather than an outright release. Colston can still play, but $14.7 million over the next two years is far too high. They can convert a majority of his $7 million salary into a bonus and add a few years onto his contract to bring his average down to the $5.5 to $6 million level.

Players to Consider Releasing

Because of the Saints salary cap situation they will need to be active in deconstructing the roster if they have any intention of working with an eye towards the future…Pro Bowl or no Pro Bowl, it is time for the Saints to part ways with Jahri Evans and begin the process of getting younger on the line. His $11 million cap charge is far too high for the team and they can’t afford to go deeper in with him especially if they extend Colston. Cutting him frees up $6 million….Releasing Curtis Lofton will save the team $4 million in cap and they can find a player with more upside in the draft that will cost a fraction of Lofton’s salary…Broderick Bunkley had been relegated to a 40% snap player before he was injured. His release creates $2.88 million in cap space…Pierre Thomas had to take a pay cut last year to remain in New Orleans and could be released to save $1.5 million.

Offseason Plan

Saints GM Mickey Loomis recently said that the Saints were in a better place with their salary cap than they were last season and I’m not really sure of the logic behind that statement, unless he simply means they don’t have to worry about a franchise tag player that is contesting his position or that they are two years away from purging all deals. The team is around $25 million over the cap which is about $15 million worse than the next worst team. Even taking the Galette restructure into account they are still far beyond anyone else in the NFL.

The team is in a difficult position because the perception of the team is very good, but the reality is they have had a losing record in two of the last three seasons. The team has been as big an offender as any team in the history of the NFL at playing “kick the can” and deferring salary cap charges to future years, leaving them with a league high 8 players with cap charges in excess of $9 million.

I’m sure the temptation is there to bring most of the players back, which can be accomplished by restructuring more contracts including that of Drew Brees. Brees’, who only has two years left on his contract, would either need to be extended or utilize void clauses to bring his cap hit way down. Neither should be an option. Other big ticket players like Jairus Byrd, who has missed 17 games over the last two years, and Jimmy Graham, who would project to decline faster than his closest comparable in Rob Gronkowski, need to have the contracts left alone for future flexibility.

Teams have to face difficult decisions when they make these contractual decisions that backfire. Last year the Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware and this year the Steelers will likely part ways with Troy Polamalu, one year after also releasing LaMarr Woodley. Both of those teams will be better for those moves and the Saints should look at those two franchises for some guidance as to navigating a bad situation.

The Saints answers for the future do not lie in free agency.  Sure they may find some bargain basement type that excels for a year the way the Cardinals have the last two seasons, but they can not make another short sighted mistake of signing a Byrd type to a monstrous backloaded contract. The Saints need to start picking this roster apart and determining who will not be a big contributor in 2016 and begin the process of designing exit strategies from those players now and getting replacements in the draft.

They also need to be honest with themselves about Brees’ future in the organization. Brees is most likely not going to take a Tom Brady contract in two years and New Orleans needs to determine if they are willing to continue to pay him at a $20M per year rate or if it will be time to explore life without Brees. If it is the latter they should strongly consider a QB in the draft to learn behind Brees and hope for a relatively seamless transition that occurred when Aaron Rodgers replaced Brett Favre.

For New Orleans this offseason should be all about planning for the future and not making it worse by going out and finding a way to bring in superstar free agents on the defensive side of the football. If they don’t consider a developmental QB then the team will need to find a cornerback, pass rusher, linebacker, and younger lineman in the draft. Free agent additions should only be used on players who are being cut by their teams and drawing minimal interest that the Saints scouts have identified as being a good fit. Anything else and we’ll be right back here next season talking about digging out of a bigger salary cap hole.

Saints Links

Saints Salary Cap Pages

Saints Free Agents

Saints Contracts

Saints GM Salary Cap Calculator

Other Offseason Salary Cap Reports

 

The post Saints 2015 Salary Cap Outlook appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/saints-2015-salary-cap-outlook/feed/ 4
Browns 2015 Salary Cap Outlookhttp://overthecap.com/browns-2015-salary-cap-outlook/ http://overthecap.com/browns-2015-salary-cap-outlook/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 02:46:09 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8825

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $48.8 million ($140M cap limit)

 

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 55
Pro Bowlers: 3
Unrestricted Free Agents: 10(4 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 12

Salary Cap Breakdown

Browns 2015 Salary Cap

Browns 2015 Salary Cap

Browns 2015 Salary Cap

Free Agents to Re-sign

The team faces an interesting decision with cornerback Buster Skrine. They drafted a replacement for him but Skrine is the more proven commodity and did come up with four interceptions on the year. With all the cap space the Browns have it is probably worth hedging their bets and retaining him…Jordan Cameron struggled with injuries and may have also felt the pressure of a … Read the rest

The post Browns 2015 Salary Cap Outlook appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $48.8 million ($140M cap limit)

 

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 55
Pro Bowlers: 3
Unrestricted Free Agents: 10(4 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 12

Salary Cap Breakdown

Browns 2015 Salary Cap

Browns 2015 Salary Cap

Browns 2015 Salary Cap

Free Agents to Re-sign

The team faces an interesting decision with cornerback Buster Skrine. They drafted a replacement for him but Skrine is the more proven commodity and did come up with four interceptions on the year. With all the cap space the Browns have it is probably worth hedging their bets and retaining him…Jordan Cameron struggled with injuries and may have also felt the pressure of a contract year leading to a miserable season.  But Cameron is talented and last year should work in the team’s favor to get a reasonable price….For a low cost Miles Austin is a perfectly fine plyer to keep on the team especially since it seems he embraces the role of working with the younger players on the team.

Free Agents to Let Walk

The Brian Hoyer era came and quickly vanished by December. Cleveland mat have to make a decision on the QB position but Hoyer shouldn’t even be part of that process. Hoyer is not the type of player that a rebuilding team should be committing to. He’s a decent backup on a team with a good quarterback…Jabaal Sheard  hasn’t fared well with the defensive changes and will cost too much to justify the production he is giving. He’ll land with a team that puts him back on the line…Ahtyba Rubin has been one of the worst values at the position and the team will likely look for better value elsewhere.

Contracts to Modify

Tashaun Gipson is one of those hidden gems and will likely be tendered, even off injury, at the first round level. There is no need for the Browns to waste any time in signing him long term once that tender is extended. They will get a much better contract by working it out now than waiting a full year…The Browns has picked up the option year on DE/DT Phil Taylor, but Taylor has missed 20 games over the last three seasons and doesn’t really have a defined role on the team.  I think all sides would benefit from an incentive laden contract than pushing the release of the player. But I can’t see a reason to pay Taylor the $5.47M salary.

Players to Consider Releasing

It seemed as if the Browns and Josh Gordon reached a breaking point when the Browns suspended Gordon for the final game of the year to block him from become a free agent in two years. Gordon is very talented but is always a suspension risk and the Browns did not believe that he is necessarily a team player. It would seem realistic to think the Browns locked his contract down to make him more attractive to another team in a trade….If no deal can be reached with Taylor I would place him in this category as well.

Offseason Plan

For about ¾ of the season the Browns tricked everyone into believing they turned a corner, but by the end of the year they were almost a bottom 10 team. The team will once again have a huge surplus of salary cap space at their disposal to attempt to fix the team and get them back to being a real contender within the next two seasons. Their defense made strides under Mike Pettine and they got a lot out of the secondary and saw Paul Kruger live up to the contract. These seems to be a solid foundation in place on this side of the ball and I don’t believe they will let that go to waste by ignoring the offense in free agency and waiting on draft picks to develop.

Outside of offensive line the Browns are incredibly underinvested in their offense. They are near the bottom of the NFL in spending on the quarterback, running back, and tight end positions. The only reason they are not that far down at receiver is because of a unique frontloaded contract they used when signing Andrew Hawkins.

The Browns approach to offense has been a disaster for the last decade. The underinvestment isn’t because they are necessarily filled with great young prospects or avoided offense in the draft, but simply the fact that they have made poor decisions when it comes to identifying any non-lineman. The names read as a who’s who of underperformers- Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden, Brian Robiski, Mohamed Massaqui- and there has to be real worry that Manziel is going to fit into that same category after partying his way right out of a starting job in his rookie year.

With so much cap space the team is in a position, similar to the Raiders last season, where they really need to start taking some chances just to bring professional players onto that side of the football.  With the QB position so up in the air they need to upgrade their talent at running back and perhaps identify a blocking tight end, both of which can be found in free agency. The team has a major need for a wide receiver, especially if Gordon is released. There is no shortage of talent available in free agency and finding a quality free agent would allow them to use their draft picks on other areas.

Defensively the team could use an inside linebacker and more help along the line to keep the defense a strength of the team. I would not be surprised to hear the Browns linked to former Jets linebacker David Harris, though they would be better off looking for a younger player to develop and take over for Karlos Dansby in 2016.  There is probably an end or tackle they can find with one of their first rounder’s this year as there is not a great deal available in free agency. They could take a chance on BJ Raji hoping he can stay healthy and rejuvenate his career or look at Damon Harrison depending on what type of tender offer the Jets make to him.

It won’t be an easy path for the Browns. They need to hit in free agency to make the most of what they have now while also getting some younger pieces in place to replace some of those veteran defenders in the near future.  Unless they show real improvement the team will likely find all new coaches and front office personnel in 2016 signaling yet another new start for the team. The GM will keep that in mind when making decisions “for the future” instead of the present.

Browns Links

Browns Salary Cap Pages

Browns Free Agents

Browns Contracts

Browns GM Salary Cap Calculator

Other Offseason Salary Cap Reports

 

The post Browns 2015 Salary Cap Outlook appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/browns-2015-salary-cap-outlook/feed/ 0
Fanspeak’s Manage the Cap Free Agency Simulatorhttp://overthecap.com/fanspeaks-manage-cap-free-agency-simulator/ http://overthecap.com/fanspeaks-manage-cap-free-agency-simulator/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:09:50 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8823

Our friends over at Fanspeak had a really fun idea that I thought many of the readers at OTC would enjoy and I want to tell everyone a bit more about it.  Fanspeak created a tool called “Manage the Cap” that allows you to simulate free agency from start to finish for your favorite team.  You’ll get to take over your franchise and see if you can put together plan to build your roster for 2015. We partnered with them to supply the salary cap data so the baseline numbers will play outsimilar to the real team numbers.

So how … Read the rest

The post Fanspeak’s Manage the Cap Free Agency Simulator appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>

Our friends over at Fanspeak had a really fun idea that I thought many of the readers at OTC would enjoy and I want to tell everyone a bit more about it.  Fanspeak created a tool called “Manage the Cap” that allows you to simulate free agency from start to finish for your favorite team.  You’ll get to take over your franchise and see if you can put together plan to build your roster for 2015. We partnered with them to supply the salary cap data so the baseline numbers will play outsimilar to the real team numbers.

So how does it work?  Go to Manage the Cap and select the team you want to be GM of. Go in there and make whatever salary cap cuts you want to trim the fat off your roster and then the real fun of Free Agency begins. The Manage the Cap simulator will give a list of players who were cut, had their contracts restructured by their team, or were re-signed right on the eve of free agency.

From there you begin to make your best offers to free agents just as you would in free agency. Set your targets for day 1 because if your offer gets declined the free agent pool will begin to dry up on day 2. Your offers might be accepted or rejected by the players depending on the money offered with the simulator coming up with a salary cap charge for the player.  When you are happy with your team simply let Manage the Cap simulate the rest of free agency for the league and then share some of the results with your friends.

I’ll put some links up on the site to it over the next few days, but I definitely recommend having some fun with it and seeing what you can do in free agency. If you want to play around even more with the numbers come back here and use the calculators to see how much more you can minimize the cap hits of your signings and how it impacts you in the future to see if your free agent plan leads to the 2015 New Orleans Saints or the 2015 Seattle Seahawks.

Manage the Cap Free Agency Simulator

The post Fanspeak’s Manage the Cap Free Agency Simulator appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/fanspeaks-manage-cap-free-agency-simulator/feed/ 6
Super Bowl Titles and High Salary Quarterbackshttp://overthecap.com/super-bowl-titles-high-salary-quarterbacks/ http://overthecap.com/super-bowl-titles-high-salary-quarterbacks/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 19:12:21 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8821

With Aaron Rodgers now eliminated from winning the Super Bowl, it means that Steve Young’s record as the highest salary cap clogging QB to win a Super Bowl remains intact. Young’s cap figure that season took up 13.1% of the 49ers salary cap. That year was 1994, the first year the salary cap was in existence. So in 20 years no Super Bowl winning team has invested a higher percentage of their cap on a QB than the first team to ever win one in the cap era.  Yet teams continue to pour more and more money into that position … Read the rest

The post Super Bowl Titles and High Salary Quarterbacks appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>

With Aaron Rodgers now eliminated from winning the Super Bowl, it means that Steve Young’s record as the highest salary cap clogging QB to win a Super Bowl remains intact. Young’s cap figure that season took up 13.1% of the 49ers salary cap. That year was 1994, the first year the salary cap was in existence. So in 20 years no Super Bowl winning team has invested a higher percentage of their cap on a QB than the first team to ever win one in the cap era.  Yet teams continue to pour more and more money into that position each season.

Since Young’s championship in 1994, only three other quarterbacks have eaten up 10% of their teams salary cap- Eli Manning in 2011 (11.7%), Peyton Manning in 2006 (10.4%), and Brett Favre in 1996 (10.2%). The average spend on a Super Bowl QB has been just 6.4%. If Brady wins the Super Bowl his cap percentage will fit between the Manning brothers at 11.1%. Russell Wilson’s 0.49% would rank below all others except for Brady in 2001 who cost just 0.47% of the Patriots salary cap. If Brady wins he will become just the fourth QB to win a title after signing a large contract extension. The others to do so were the Manning’s and Ben Roethlisberger.

The funny thing about discussing Brady this way is that in today’s era Brady is considered “cheap” because he took a team friendly contract to allow the Patriots to build a team around him of talented players.  It’s a game of many moving pieces and too much investment in one player can often mean disregarding those other pieces whose role is also important to success. Brady and his team realized this and acted accordingly.

If we assume next year’s salary cap to be $140 million six quarterbacks will eat up more cap space than Young. Those players include Tony Romo, Drew Brees, both Mannings, Ryan, and Roethlisberger. Half of that group didn’t make the playoffs in 2014 and none advanced beyond the second round.

If we extend that figure out to the 11.7% mark set by Manning as the modern age high water mark then we add Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Philip Rivers, Sam Bradford, and Jay Cutler to the list.   That’s now 1/3 of the NFL that is already locked into more QB money than the most ever committed to a winning QB since 1995.  If we look at the average spent on quarterbacks of just 6.4% we are now eliminating every veteran long term contract in the league. Our list drops all the way down to Andrew Luck at 5% and RGIII at 4.8%.

I can understand the logic in paying Rodgers, Manning, etc… those big dollars. The regular season success of most of those players is off the charts and irreplaceable.  But if it compromises your ability to get better more and more teams need to question whether it is worth it or not.  This is what sets New England apart from so many other teams and will continue to set them apart over the next few seasons. They can build around their starting QB’s contract in a manner the most successful teams of the past have done.

It will be interesting to see if Brady wins if more of the veteran players consider signing lower cost contracts to try to gain a competitive advantage and win one more before they ride off into the sunset. Brady has alternate sources of income that dwarf the salaries of these players, but players like Brees and Peyton (who did turn down more money to play in Denver) have certainly done well for themselves. But if a change occurs at the top it will have to come from the players side as the team has no leverage to force a paycut. There is simply no better alternative available in free agency or the draft.

The changes should start with the mid range QB contracts that have now become cap cloggers.  The odds are strongly against winning with a Cutler type of player, but they become increasingly more difficult when you invest money in him as if he is a top tier player. That limits what you can do with the rest of your team.

One of the problems with the NFL is that everyone wants to follow a similar model of success. It’s very easy to say that the NFL has become a passing league and that we need to “get with the times” and get a modern offense in place. The NFL goes through trends like this all the time. The problem is there are only so many Aaron Rodgers out there, yet in today’s league little separates the Stafford’s and Cutler’s from the Rodgers’ of the league when we look at salary cap impact.

The trick in the NFL is when you don’t have that player that can drive the latest style to find a way to be unique and exploit mismatches. That’s one of the reasons why Seattle has been so successful.  As the Bears scrambled to turn a run based program into a downfield passing attack the Seahawks recognized whatever limitations existed and focused on building their defense and maintaining a power running game behind Marshawn Lynch. Invest heavy in a great safety that can shadow a great corner and shut off a side of the field. Nobody else does it and teams have a hard time with having a whole half of a field taken away. It’s something that hasn’t happened in ages. Its unique.

Now there is a great deal of luck in how the Seahawks found so much talent, but give them credit for recognizing that a player like Percy Harvin had no role and moving him out. That move extended their window of opportunity by a season. They know what they are and work within those parameters rather than investing huge cap room in a Stafford esque offense that runs in neutral and costs $20-$30 million more.  Maybe Seattle will fall into those problems when they do re-sign Wilson and pay him at the high end of the salary spectrum, but for now they have an identity that is so different few teams are equipped to deal with it.

We can all see the Patriots thinking outside the box for this year’s playoff run. They saved a number of plays and formations just for this run. A Julian Edelman pass to Danny Amendola? Shane Vereen offensive lineman?  Nate Solder down the field tight end?  Where was this during the year?  It was being saved to catch teams off guard when they were ill equipped to deal with it. Teams will all use it next season, we’ll all go crazy as soon as we see it happen, and very quickly all defenses will be ready to recognize it and stop it. Meanwhile the Patriots will be one step ahead and doing something different while everyone tries to imitate what New England thought had a shelf life of three games.

Teams in the NFL are not going to be successful by settling for Cutler and paying him and attempting to play him like he is Rodgers. That is the model that needs to stop. History more or less shows you are not going to win with this kind of investment specifically for this kind of player. The Bears have a top 10 draft pick that will  likely cost 1/3 or ¼ of Cutler. While there is no guarantee that the QB will be as good as Cutler right away I bet the added $10-14 million a season would go a long way towards building a team far better than the one on the field now.

But clogging the salary cap on this one position is not going to help a team win a Super Bowl. Eventually someone will but I can almost guarantee that it will be one of the players considered an elite level talent, not a second or third tier guy simply being paid like one.

 

% of Cap Spent on SB Winning QB

YearNameCap %
1994Young13.1%
1995Aikman6.7%
1996Favre10.2%
1997Elway5.2%
1998Elway5.0%
1999Warner1.3%
2000Dilfer1.6%
2001Brady0.47%
2002Johnson9.6%
2003Brady4.4%
2004Brady6.3%
2005Roethlisberger4.9%
2006P. Manning10.4%
2007E. Manning9.2%
2008Roethlisberger6.8%
2009Brees8.3%
2011E. Manning11.7%
2012Flacco6.6%
2013Wilson0.56%

The post Super Bowl Titles and High Salary Quarterbacks appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/super-bowl-titles-high-salary-quarterbacks/feed/ 5
Vikings 2015 Salary Cap Outlookhttp://overthecap.com/vikings-2015-salary-cap-outlook/ http://overthecap.com/vikings-2015-salary-cap-outlook/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 02:04:29 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=8816

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $13.0 million ($140M cap limit)

 

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 64
Pro Bowlers: 0
Unrestricted Free Agents: 8(1 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 11

Salary Cap Breakdown

Vikings 2015 Salary Cap

Vikings 2015 Salary Cap

Vikings 2015 Salary Cap

 

Free Agents to Re-sign

Veteran defensive tackle Tom Johnson very quietly posted 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seems to have found his niche with Minnesota. He made $845,000 last year on a one year deal and I would think this time it may be a two year deal in the $2.5 million range….ILB Jasper Brinkley played well in the defense last season and there is no reason … Read the rest

The post Vikings 2015 Salary Cap Outlook appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $13.0 million ($140M cap limit)

 

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 64
Pro Bowlers: 0
Unrestricted Free Agents: 8(1 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 11

Salary Cap Breakdown

Vikings 2015 Salary Cap

Vikings 2015 Salary Cap

Vikings 2015 Salary Cap

 

Free Agents to Re-sign

Veteran defensive tackle Tom Johnson very quietly posted 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seems to have found his niche with Minnesota. He made $845,000 last year on a one year deal and I would think this time it may be a two year deal in the $2.5 million range….ILB Jasper Brinkley played well in the defense last season and there is no reason to part with him until a draft pick is established….C Joe Berger is familiar with the team and can either start on the interior line or be a valuable backup. He’ll likely only cost the minimum.

Free Agents to Let Walk

The Christian Ponder era never really got off the ground and he won’t even be in consideration as a backup for them next season…The Vikings took a cheap flier on Corey Wootton and he never really did enough to merit any significant playing time. Those depth roles usually turn over to a new player…Vlad Ducasse couldn’t play on the Jets and didn’t do much better in Minnesota.

Contracts to Modify

I was down on the signing of Greg Jennings from day one as a major reach on both price and expete role, but the team needs wide receivers and Jennings can still fill a void as a mid level number 2 capable of 700 yards a season. Considering the development of a young QB is of major importance it would be wise to find a way to bring his contract in line with his production rather than just releasing him. He’ll make $9 million on his current deal and they should be able to cut that down to $5 million.

Players to Consider Releasing

I don’t think Adrian Peterson wants to remain a Viking and I am not sure the Vikings really need to deal with the headache of reinstating him. The organization should be looking toward the future and he is the one link to the past. Releasing him saves the team $13 million in cap space…Chad Greenway’s best days are behind him and the Vikings should get younger and faster at the position. Cutting Greenway saves $7.1 million.

Offseason Plan

I kind of feel as if the most important decision right now for the Vikings is to decide whether or not Matt Kalil is their left tackle moving forward or if they need a contingency plan. Kalil has tailed off and while they will likely pick up his option year for 2016, the cost of that option is high and may make negotiating the parameters of an extension more difficult. Being proactive and making that contract extension offer before picking up the option might be worthwhile, but if they decide that an extension will likely not happen or they don’t want it to happen then they may want to focus their draft on finding a new offensive tackle that will take over for Kalil in 2016.

The Vikings as of now do not have a large surplus of cap space to work with so if they do not decide to release Peterson and Greenway they will have a harder time making significant additions in free agency if they get into a bidding war. That said, outside of an interior lineman or cornerback I don’t believe the Vikings would plan on being very active in free agency. The release of one of those players and reworking Jennings deal would allow them to potentially target the top potentially available names at those positions (Mike Iupati and Byron Maxwell). If the release Peterson they may go after a low cost player at the position to add to the running back mix next season.

Based on where the Vikings currently stand they should focus on the draft where they can improve the core of their team and find help in the secondary, linebacker, offensive line and wide receiver. If Kalil is indeed the guy for them then they can bypass tackle and probably land a very good corner in the draft and potentially address most of their needs in the first three rounds and making one free agent splash.

If they believe strongly that Bridgewater ends up as a solid starter they should like their current position as the young upstart of the North. They finished better than an aging Chicago team this season and not much separates them from the high priced Lions. Reaching the Packers level, if Rodgers is healthy for 16 games, is always difficult but building that core in the draft for one more season before going crazy with free agents would probably give them a better chance at doing it than trying for a short term fix and throwing money at players now. I think by saving some money this year and continuing to build their nucleus they will be in a great position come 2016. They can work their way to wildcard contention next season by staying the course and then make the leap heavy into free agency to fill the voids that remain on the team.

Vikings Links

Vikings Salary Cap Pages

Vikings Free Agents

Vikings Contracts

Vikings GM Salary Cap Calculator

Other Offseason Salary Cap Reports

 

The post Vikings 2015 Salary Cap Outlook appeared first on Over the Cap.

]]>
http://overthecap.com/vikings-2015-salary-cap-outlook/feed/ 0