Getting their money's worth?

You get what you pay for, right? Perhaps. The 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. A better measure, however, is how the money was spent. Are the Packers getting enough bang for their bucks?'s Steve Lawrence broke down the offense earlier in the week. Today, the defense and special teams.

Earlier in the week, using NFL Players Association salary-cap figures, I showed where the Packers came up short in terms of dollars spent vs. on-the-field offensive production. Today, as you might expect from last year's overachieving unit, the Packers are getting a bargain with their defense.

Defensive ends

Average starter's salary: $2.54 million

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila: $3.60 million

Aaron Kampman: $1.21 million

Analysis: There's no question Kampman — who led all Packers defensive linemen in tackles and posted a career high 6.5 sacks — has been underpaid as much as KGB has been overpaid. With a new contract that kept Kampman from testing free agency, the Packers will give him about $12 million in the coming season in base salary and bonuses, so that's a 1,000 percent raise. It's well deserved, if not a bit over the top. In the case of Gbaja-Biamila, is it really his fault he's not earning what the Packers are giving him? It's no secret his role is too big, and it takes away from what he does best: sacking the quarterback. He had only eight sacks last season.

  Defensive tackles

Average starter's salary: $2.06 million

Grady Jackson: $962,000

Cullen Jenkins: $309,000

Analysis: Sure, Jackson was perpetually overweight, often banged up and on occasion grouchy. But he started all 16 games and recorded a career high in tackles. The Packers replaced Jackson with Ryan Pickett during the offseason. Pickett is billed as a younger version of Jackson. At more than twice Jackson's money, he has big shoes to fill. Jenkins teamed with Colin Cole to give the Packers a nice, low-priced, productive tandem at the other tackle spot. Jenkins is a decent pass rusher, and with seven passes defensed, he seems to have an instinct for batting down passes when he can't get to the quarterback.

  Outside linebackers

Average starter's salary: $1.81 million

Na'il Diggs: $3.16 million.

Robert Thomas: $632,000

Analysis: The Packers have parted ways with both players. Good thinking. Diggs never lived up to his potential, partly because he always was banged up and partly because he was overhyped. Thomas was part of a revolving door at the other outside linebacker spot. As a former first-round pick by St. Louis, the Packers were wise to take a flyer on him last season, but A.J. Hawk will fill that spot this season.

  Middle linebacker

Average starter's salary: $2.29 million

Nick Barnett: $1.02 million

Analysis: Earning about 40 percent of the league average, there's no question Barnett is worth the money. It's an unofficial number, but the Packers charted Barnett with 194 tackles last season, shattering the team record and ranking third in the NFL. Now, how many of those tackles amounted to much of anything? He intercepted one pass, recovered one fumble and forced three fumbles. Big plays — the kind of plays a first-round pick should make — have been too few and too far between.


Average starter's salary: $2.75 million

Al Harris: $2.68 million

Ahmad Carroll: $1.25 million

Analysis: Harris is a well above-average cornerback making slightly less than the league average, and far less than what the Packers will pay newcomer Charles Woodson. Is it any wonder Harris is miffed about his deal, even if he agreed to it just a couple years ago? Carroll, meantime, isn't close to earning the league average, and he isn't close to earning it, either. He led the team in penalties last season, and he has just three career interceptions.

  Strong safety

Average starter's salary: $1.27 million

Mark Roman: $877,000

Analysis: In some cases, you do get what you pay for. Roman was plucked off the bargain aisle, and while he's certainly better than guys like Marques Anderson, he's hardly been the solution. In his two seasons, he's picked off two passes, forced two fumbles and recovered none. Not enough production.

  Free safety

Average starter's salary: $1.38 million

Nick Collins: $570,000

Analysis: He's why teams love rookies. He had a solid rookie season, seems to have a huge upside, and he's getting paid a mere pittance. An all-rookie first-teamer, he made few mental mistakes, especially for a rookie. Intercepted just one pass but was in position for several more.


Average starter's salary: $688,000

B.J. Sander: $451,000

Analysis: Hey, at least the Packers aren't getting ripped off too badly for the league's 30th ranked punter.


Average starter's salary: $1.23 million

Ryan Longwell: $1.90 million

Analysis: A common sentiment when Longwell signed with Minnesota: Good riddance. Well, here's guessing that sentiment will change once the season starts. Sure, Longwell's ego was enormous, and he came off as a whiner for his many excuses for missing kicks, but he was clutch in big situations, and he thrived when the weather turned nasty.


Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

Packer Report Top Stories