Getting their money's worth?

It's not how much you spend, but how you spend it. The Green Bay Packers ranked 31st in the 32-team NFL last season with a total payroll of $64,740,177, and they wound up with a 4-12 record. Did the Packers get enough bang for their bucks?'s Steve Lawrence breaks it down, starting today with the offense.

You get what you pay for, right? Perhaps. The Green Bay Packers ranked 31st in the 32-team NFL last season with a total payroll of $64,740,177, and they wound up with a 4-12 record.

Because payrolls can fluctuate wildly due to the timing of bonus money, numbers and positioning of draft picks and so on, the get-what-you-pay-for adage doesn't neatly fit.

A better measure is how the money is spent.

A NFL Players Association study broke down player salaries inside and out, including a list of average salaries by position. With a list of the Packers' salary-cap figures sitting next to me, let's see if the team is getting its money worth. (Note: This is based on 2005 cap figures, the NFLPA's latest.)

I start with the offense, with the defense and special teams to come later in the week.


Average starter's salary: $5.15 million

Brett Favre: $10.13 million

Analysis: Judging by Favre's 29 interceptions last season — an almost unprecedented number in the modern NFL, given the 35 interceptions chucked by Vinny Testaverde, circa 1988 with a woeful Tampa Bay team, even compare — the Packers are grossly overpaying their quarterback. On the other side, the Packers were trashed by injuries — Javon Walker's was especially crippling — a lack of running game and an overall lack of talent, yet Favre still led the NFC in passing yards. Interviewed on a Green Bay radio station on Monday, former Packers general manager Ron Wolf said Favre still ranks in the top five in the league among quarterbacks. Wolf might be biased, but he's also right. Nonetheless, Favre is no bargain at more than $10 million per season.

  Running back

Average starter's salary: $3.27 million

Ahman Green: $5.63 million

Analysis: It's a no-brainer here. Green was dreadful last season and is coming off a season-ending and possibly career-threatening injury. Yes, running behind Green Bay's offensive line, especially early in the season, was akin to running through rush hour in Chicago, but Green showed little of the power and burst that led him to five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Running backs over 30 years, especially with Green's punishing style, are notorious for being good at one moment and washed up the next.


Average starter's salary: $840,000

William Henderson: $1.39 million

Analysis: At some point, Henderson will start acting his age. It's been predicted the past few years, but every year, Henderson continues to be a battering ram of a blocker. The Packers' running game struggled last season after an amazing string of Henderson leading the way for a 1,000-yard rusher six straight years. Given his blocking skills, catching ability and special-teams play, Henderson by no means is overpaid, even at $600,000 over the league average.

  Wide receivers

Average starter's salary: $2.97 million

Robert Ferguson: $2.25 million

Donald Driver: $2.22 million

Analysis: If the Packers had more Donald Drivers and fewer Robert Fergusons, they wouldn't be in a rebuilding mode. Driver earned a major pay increase, and got it this offseason with a contract that doubles the $2.22 million figure. He certainly outperformed his old contract last season, when he caught 84 passes against a barrage of double teams thrown at him in the wake of Walker's season-ending injury. It will be more of the same, unless Ferguson starts to earn his paychecks. Ferguson seemingly has suffered more injuries than he's given the Packers big plays. He caught 27 passes and scored three touchdowns last season, and has never caught more than 38 passes in a season. Ferguson earned slightly more than Driver last season. He should write him a big check to make up for it.

  Tight end

Average starter's salary: $1.79 million

Bubba Franks: $2.05 million

Analysis: It was a painful season for Franks last season. He actually caught fewer passes than chronic underachiever David Martin (27 to 25). He missed six games and caught a career-low one touchdown pass. His pay shows he's a slightly above-average tight end, meaning he was overpaid last season. With the Packers vowing a renewed emphasis on the tight end in the passing game, he'll have ample opportunity to make up for it.

  Offensive tackle

Average starter's salary: $3.17 million

Chad Clifton: $2.96 million

Mark Tauscher: $3.17 million

Much of the Packers' offensive problems last season fall on the play of the line. The blame, however, can not fall on Clifton and Tauscher, who form perhaps the league's most underrated tandem tackle. Clifton battled a nagging ankle problem to be a Pro Bowl alternate. Tauscher played 99.6 percent of the snaps, successfully stopping the likes of Julius Peppers and Jevon Kearse. Tauscher and Clifton are paid near the league average. They are a bargain at that price.


Average starter's salary: $1.94 million

William Whitticker: $240,000

Adrian Klemm: $1.00 million

Both guards earned well under the league average, and in this case, you get what you pay for. Almost certainly, neither player will start in 2006, and there's a good chance neither will be on the roster.


Average starter's salary: $1.65 million

Scott Wells: $309,000

Wells is another bargain, at less than 20 percent the league average. That's not to say Wells has been a steal. The Packers love his potential, and maybe 2006 will be the season he emerges.

   Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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