Having a legitimate salary cap in the NFL makes competency, not money, the most important asset a GM can have. The average salary of the eight Pro Bowl quarterbacks last year was $6.6 million. The Chicago Bears dished out over $8 million for the revolving quarterback circus of Brain Griese, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton-that's not exactly getting your moneys worth.
Money truly does not solve everything. The Washington Redskins dished out more money than anyone last year, spending more than $123 million and all Daniel Snyder got was another disappointing season.
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Here is a list of the top 10 NFL player salaries paid out for the 2007 season. The total salary combines the yearly rate, bonuses and the entire signing bonus if applicable. See if you can count the number of playoff wins combined on one hand.
1) Dwight Freeney, Colts, $30,750,000
2) Marc Bulger, Rams, $17,502,040
3) Leonard Davis, Cowboys, $17,006,240
4) Gaines Adams, Buccaneers, $15,434,000
5) Robert Geathers, Bengals, $14,000,000
6) Cory Redding, Lions, $13,625,000
7) Derrick Dockery, Bills, $13,504,680
8) Reggie Bush, Saints, $13,375,960
9) Kris Dielman, Chargers, $13,305,280
10) Larry Johnson, Chiefs, $13,300,000
Owners and General Managers in the NFL are not the only ones figuring out that heavy cash flow does not make up for sound advice. The Yankees spent $209 million on payroll this season, and are quickly fading out of the AL playoff picture while the Florida Marlins ($21.8 million) collectively make less than nearly three Yankees, Alex Rodriguez ($28 million), Jason Giambi ($23.4 million) and Derek Jeter ($21.6 million) but are still well within striking distance in the NL East.
Three NHL players reached the $10 million mark for the first time in league history but it was teams like the Penguins and Red Wings that made it to the Stanley Cup finals while spending a lot less on their key players.
The Flyers, Rangers and Sabres gave Daniel Briere, Scott Gomez and Thomas Vanek $10 million each, respectively, but only the Flyers reached the conference finals and Briere had little say in that.
The Avalanche spent the most money ($61 million) but their playoff trip was short lived. The NBA might be one instance where the money was worth it. The Celtics splurged this past off-season putting some pieces around Paul Pierce ($16.4 million) with Ray Allen ($16 million) and Kevin Garnett, the highest paid player in the NBA at $23.8 million, and it paid off in an NBA title.
Teams have different philosophies when it comes to paying players. Some like veterans, some try to hold on to players just long enough and then wait to find someone to do the same job for cheaper. The Ravens have always been a more veteran team and they paid for it this past year, literally. They dished out a combined $18.8 million to the aging Ray Lewis, 33 and Chris McAlister, 31. Both missed half of the season because of injuries.
The Pittsburgh Steelers abide by a different set of thinking. The Rooneys, the family in charge of the Steelers, has always believed in letting players go before their big contract year in free agency, holding on only to a few select franchise players. They cut ties with Joey Porter, who landed a mega $13 million contract for an aging linebacker with bad knees. He helped the hapless Miami defense to a single win all year. This past year they let go of arguably the greatest guard in franchise history, Alan Faneca, not wanting to pay someone they thought was nearing the end of their prime. The Jets picked him up and it's yet to be seen the effect it will have on the Steelers.
The best players in the NFL are all being had at bargain prices right now. Peyton Manning "only' makes $8.2 million a year, that's less than Marc Bulger ($9.1 million). Needless to say we are sure which quarterback a GM would rather have.
The quarterback-receiving combo of Tony Romo and Terrell Owens was efficient last year but they were unable to win a home playoff game. Their combined salary came to $18.6 million. Not too bad, but that makes another quarterback, receiver combo at $10.35 million look like a bargain. You guess who it is?
It is Tom Brady and Randy Moss of the nearly perfect but still record setting New England Patriots.
Another interesting note on salaries is the highest and lowest salary by position.
Highest- Designated Hitter $6.8 million
Lowest- Catcher $2.2 million
Highest- Power Forward $4.3 million
Lowest- Point Guard $3.1
Highest- Quarterback $1.9 million
Lowest- Tight End and Punter/Kicker $750,000
Highest- Goalie $1.9 million
Lowest- Left Wing $1.5 million
"Sports writers use stats as a drunken man uses lamp-posts, for support rather than illumination."
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That can be said for many sports stats and salaries are no different. Salary figures are often skewed by the way contracts are written up with top players not making their real money until the back end of the deal and rookies often earning more money than established veterans. Also NFL average figures will always be lowest because of the size of the rosters where as NBA will always be the highest because how short the rosters are. Still, the salary figures presented here give a good indication of the current climate of sports, but next year, the numbers can be drastically different.
Just do not expect the Yankees or Redskins to start spending less or the Marlins or Pirates to start spending more.