Spending Big Didn't Help Packers' Defense

Think you get what you pay for? That's (mostly) not true when it comes to the NFL's best and worst defenses. Green Bay spent plenty of money but didn't get enough bang out of those bucks.

You get what you pay for?

Sometimes yes; sometimes no.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Green Bay Packers invested $56,623,900 of their salary cap into their defense. That was the eighth-most cap dollars in the league.

The Seahawks, fielding one of the best defenses of the era, spent about $4 million less than the Packers.

Green Bay's underperforming defensive line cost about $19 million in cap dollars, with Ryan Pickett ($6.7 million) and B.J. Raji ($6.595 million) being the big-ticket items. That was the 14th-highest expenditure — right about the middle of the pack. Green Bay ranked eighth at linebacker ($18.7 million) and seventh at cornerback ($14.4 million). Where the Packers cut corners was at safety, with the $4.6 million ranked 23rd. Morgan Burnett ($3.197 million) was surrounded by undrafted free agents M.D. Jennings, Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo after the midseason release of Jerron McMillian ($447,280).

Perhaps counterintuitively, the Packers' defensive troubles actually are confirmation that general manager Ted Thompson's draft-and-develop and forever-young philosophies are the way to go. Of the seven teams that spent the most money, five didn't make the playoffs.

On the other hand, of this year's Final Eight, only the Colts (ninth) ranked in the top 10 in cap spending.

Here's the breakdown, based on rankings in points allowed:

— Seattle was No. 1 in the league. The Seahawks ranked 15th in cap money spent on defense.

— Carolina was No. 2. The Panthers were a bargain-basement 29th in cap money spent on defense.

— San Francisco was No. 3. The 49ers ranked 16th in cap money spent on defense.

— New Orleans was No. 4. The Saints were 13th in cap money spent on defense.

— Cincinnati and Kansas City were tied for fifth in points allowed and were first and second, respectively, in cap money spent on their defenses.

— Arizona was seventh. The Cardinals were 21st in cap money spent on defense.

On the other hand ...

— Green Bay and Houston were tied for 24th in points allowed. The Packers were eighth and the Texans 17th in cap money spent on defense.

— Dallas was 26th. The Cowboys were 19th in cap money spent on defense.

— Atlanta was 27th, Jacksonville 28th and Oakland 29th. They all got what they paid for: The Falcons 25th in cap money spent on defense, the Jaguars were 31st and the Raiders were 32nd.

— Chicago and Washington were tied for 30th in points and near the opposite ends in money. The Bears were fourth in cap money spent on defense while the Redskins were 23rd.

— Minnesota was 32nd. The Vikings were sixth in cap money spent on defense.

The moral to the story? Drafting well and spending wisely is the key to fielding a championship-level defense. The Packers haven't drafted well enough and they haven't received enough production from their big-ticket players.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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