Lost Salary Cap Dollars in the 2014 NFL Season

I was looking over some salary cap numbers on the site this morning and realized just how much money the St. Louis Rams had lost to injured reserve. The Rams usually utilize high cap figures for their star players and most of their total is from the Sam Bradford and Chris Long landing on IR, so its not as bad as teams that are losing multiple players with low accounting cap charges for a year, but with over $32 million on IR the Rams are essentially giving up nearly 25% of their cap to players who can not participate in games this week.

That got me to thinking about what would be the largest losses of cap dollars to players on IR and dead money charges for players not on the team. These are the primary figures of players who can not contribute to the organization anymore. Remember these are all estimates and don’t include all injury settlements and some splits that I have not yet accrued, but it should paint a reasonable picture. Note that I include in dead money salary for games played by players released. At this stage of the season that is a minimal contribution.

In terms of IR the average spend per team is about $5.5 million which shows you how crazy the Rams loss on IR is this year. The next closest teams are the Chiefs, Falcons, and Redskins which range from $10-$12.7 million. So it is not the best of luck for the Rams this year who are way over any realistic expectation. Their hope will be to get Long back towards the end of the season which makes things less of a burden. Teams not really devastated by the injury bug yet are the Steelers, Bears (though they may lose Brandon Marshall for a game tonight), Patriots, and Jets.

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The Cowboys and Bills lead the way with dead money charges with about $25 and $24 million respectively. The Cowboys made a tough decision with DeMarcus Ware earlier this year to help fuel their charge while the Bills have been all over the place with roster decisions the last few years. The average cost is around $11 million. Other big dead money teams are the Panthers, Texans, and Patriots.

When we add the two columns together we can assume that most teams should budget for about $16 million in wasted cap dollars when doing their accounting for a season. The Rams loss is an outlier so Id take that out from the averages. Overall the Rams lead the way with around $39 million in useless cap space this year, though they will receive a credit for Cortland Finnegan signing with the Dolphins this season, which makes their effective total closer to $36 million. Dallas is next with around $31 million. They are followed by the Bills, Cardinals, and Redskins. The Bengals, Broncos, Vikings, and Lions make out the best so far in least wasted money against the salary cap.

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2014 Lost Salary Cap Dollars

Team Estimated IR Salary Estimated Dead Money Total
Rams $32,546,774 $6,526,273 $39,073,047
Cowboys $6,303,057 $25,367,190 $31,670,247
Bills $1,865,364 $24,172,959 $26,038,323
Cardinals $9,053,000 $13,299,700 $22,352,700
Redskins $10,802,475 $11,289,773 $22,092,248
Chargers $7,682,833 $14,201,236 $21,884,069
Panthers $2,451,114 $19,428,967 $21,880,081
Texans $2,372,390 $18,774,260 $21,146,650
Chiefs $12,674,961 $8,305,690 $20,980,651
Falcons $11,203,370 $9,185,060 $20,388,430
Browns $2,443,333 $16,403,357 $18,846,690
Giants $7,229,859 $10,794,794 $18,024,653
Patriots $1,217,000 $16,586,853 $17,803,853
Eagles $7,908,000 $9,743,680 $17,651,680
Jets $1,266,444 $15,172,645 $16,439,089
Saints $1,381,915 $14,573,857 $15,955,772
Raiders $1,443,150 $14,262,318 $15,705,468
Dolphins $9,062,524 $6,416,551 $15,479,075
Bears $879,787 $14,118,053 $14,997,840
Jaguars $3,555,120 $11,181,100 $14,736,220
Seahawks $5,166,286 $9,118,219 $14,284,505
Ravens $2,162,537 $11,360,288 $13,522,825
Steelers $632,213 $11,407,025 $12,039,238
Colts $9,250,308 $2,101,687 $11,351,995
49ers $6,179,787 $4,868,323 $11,048,110
Titans $2,156,683 $8,653,943 $10,810,626
Packers $6,598,488 $3,272,333 $9,870,821
Buccaneers $2,410,964 $7,280,892 $9,691,856
Lions $3,554,933 $6,048,268 $9,603,201
Vikings $1,860,483 $6,772,928 $8,633,411
Broncos $1,283,499 $7,087,832 $8,371,331
Bengals $2,497,364 $4,252,357 $6,749,721
Average $5,534,250 $11,313,388 $16,847,638