Packers Spending, Relative to Rest of League

How did the Packers' positional spending compare to the other 31 teams? The Packers got a lot of production from a limited amount of spending on offense but didn't get as much return on investment on defense. It gets even more interesting when looking at each position.

Spending to build an NFL roster really isn’t any different than spending on dinner at a fancy restaurant.

When you write that big check, you want that feeling of satisfaction that comes with getting your money’s worth.

Offensively, the Packers got the equivalent of a steak dinner for the price of a Big Mac. According to the positional spending breakdown at, Green Bay’s top-ranked scoring offense cost a 23rd-ranked $52.97 million against the cap. That’s tremendous value, boosted obviously by having running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Randall Cobb putting up big-time production on their rookie contracts.

Defensively, however, the Packers spent for king crab legs but had to settle for some decent precooked frozen shrimp. Green Bay fielded the second-most-expensive defense in the league at a total cap expenditure of $69.07 million. Thanks to a strong second half of the season, it tied for 13th in points allowed.

By position, Green Bay ranked:

— Fourth in quarterback spending at $19.27 million. Seattle spent just $2.23 million on its quarterbacks. That’s $17 million less — which obviously helps in building a roster that was 1 yard away from winning a second consecutive Super Bowl. Why is Chicago such a mess? Because the Bears spent the fifth-most at the position, a mere $54,000 less than Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is worth about $540 million more than Jay Cutler.



— 25th in running back spending at $2.85 million. Seattle ranked seventh in spending. Of the top six teams (Philadelphia, Carolina, Minnesota, Kansas City, Buffalo and Houston), only one made the playoffs — Carolina, which got in with a losing record. Only Carolina and Seattle (No. 7) got in the playoffs among the top 13 teams in backfield pay.

— 23rd in wide receiver spending at $9.40 million, with only Jordy Nelson beyond his rookie contract. Of the top 10 teams in receiver pay, only two (Detroit, No. 2; Denver, No. 5) made the playoffs. New England ranked 13th and Seattle was 30th.

— 29th in tight end pay at $2.46 million. In some cases, you get what you pay for, with Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers and Brandon Bostick not exactly lighting the world on fire. New England was No. 9 and Seattle was No. 10.

— 20th in offensive line payroll at $18.99 million. Green Bay received great value with center Corey Linsley and left tackle David Bakhtiari on their rookie deals. This figure will rise by several million if the Packers can re-sign right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Of the eight teams that spent the most on their offensive lines, none made the playoffs. Believe that or not. Seattle was No. 12 and New England was No. 28. Why was Detroit’s offense so impotent, despite big-money spent at quarterback (No. 10), running back (14th), receiver (second) and tight end (14th)? The cheapest O-line in the league played like it too often.

Overall, Green Bay, Denver, Philadelphia, New England and Dallas were first through fifth in scoring. Respectively, those teams ranked 23rd, second, fifth, 17th and 22nd in spending. Seattle ranked 10th in scoring and 28th in spending.

By position on defense, Green Bay ranked:

— 25th in defensive line pay at $12.95 million. (Generally, teams running a 4-3 spend more money on their defensive lines; teams running a 3-4 spend more on their linebackers.) Its best two players, Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion, were great cap values at a combined $1.63 million. Four of the seven-highest paid defensive lines reached the playoffs (Detroit, second; Carolina, fifth; Cincinnati, sixth; Arizona, seventh). Only Carolina (which beat Arizona) got to the divisional round.

— First in linebackers spending at $29.3 million. The Packers were fat and happy with Clay Matthews’ cap charge of $10.94 million, and Julius Peppers’ cap charge of $3.5 million was the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet. On the other hand, they were left feeling like they had consumed a dinner of Rice cakes with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones counting $9.025 million against the cap. Of the top 15 highest-paid linebacker corps, only Green Bay, Pittsburgh (second), Indianapolis (fourth) and Baltimore (eighth) made the playoffs. Seattle ranked 28th.

— Second in cornerbacks spending at $19.78 million. Tramon Williams ranked fourth in cap ($9.5 million) and Sam Shields ranked 16th ($5.56 million). They played well as a tandem but did they play well enough considering their relative pay? That’s debatable. Seattle’s corners ranked 27th, but Richard Sherman goes from $3.676 million to $12.2 million in 2015.

— 18th in safety pay at $7.03 million. Seattle led the NFL in safety pay but only one of the next eight teams (Pittsburgh, No. 7) reached the playoffs.

Overall, Seattle, Kansas City, Detroit, Buffalo and Arizona were first through fifth in points allowed. Respectively, they ranked 12th, eighth, 11th, first and seventh in cap money allocated to their defenses. Super Bowl-winning New England ranked 21st. The six cheapest defenses weren’t good enough to get into the playoffs.

The moral to the story: Whether it’s sweets or positional spending, all things in moderation.

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

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