How much money for a winning NFL team?

Money is a powerful tool in professional sports.  While it can't necessarily 'buy' wins for a team, it can easily keep big time players from leaving a franchise.

This report will look at financial data from each NFL team over the past five years, and determine if money has an impact on performance.  Specifically, we look at each team's active payroll for both offense and defense.  Is it money that keeps New England, Denver, and Seattle at the top every season? Or does it all come down to elite management?  Lets find out...   

*All data is taken from Spotrac - partner of USA TODAY            

Total Cash Spent
Page Title
Defense Cash Spent
Offense Cash Spent
Total Wins
Baltimore Ravens$331,104,045.00$324,954,279.0045
Atlanta Falcons$263,663,436.00$386,031,194.0041
Buffalo Bills$361,135,864.00$278,874,917.0035
Arizona Cardinals$287,651,732.00$356,580,060.0047
Miami Dolphins$333,237,535.00$298,015,898.0035
Kansas City Chiefs$324,266,077.00$298,359,854.0040
Seattle Seahawks$286,412,803.00$337,436,563.0047
Green Bay Packers$307,619,392.00$298,763,894.0056
Pittsburgh Steelers$312,425,115.00$292,273,176.0050
New Orleans Saints$274,798,533.00$332,745,292.0041
Denver Broncos$303,390,447.00$297,858,220.0058
Dallas Cowboys$291,759,197.00$308,349,489.0040
Carolina Panthers$277,420,295.00$326,260,808.0047
Philadelphia Eagles$275,490,744.00$320,503,661.0037
New York Giants$271,050,598.00$317,798,966.0038
Cincinnati Bengals$318,866,345.00$262,930,417.0052
San Diego Chargers$244,761,466.00$333,077,134.0040
New England Patriots$242,580,563.00$334,139,636.0060
Detroit Lions$279,300,832.00$311,309,051.0039
San Francisco 49ers$263,239,870.00$310,971,767.0050
New York Jets$287,924,818.00$296,351,615.0032
Houston Texans$301,074,108.00$277,760,089.0042
Washington Redskins$292,397,768.00$287,502,915.0040
Indianapolis Colts$293,984,234.00$265,202,150.0043
Minnesota Vikings$277,106,512.00$294,972,712.0036
Tampa Bay Buccaneers$246,507,205.00$309,562,509.0026
Chicago Bears$261,389,545.00$290,052,640.0037
St. Louis Rams$276,277,347.00$279,824,594.0026
Oakland Raiders$284,564,900.00$248,712,278.0032
Cleveland Browns$298,313,345.00$252,263,917.0023
Tennessee Titans$249,663,420.00$285,023,360.0023
Jacksonville Jaguars$254,038,136.00$255,943,466.0019

The previous graphic is ordered by total cash spent from the highest to the lowest.  Though you can't come to a definite conclusion, many of the NFL's consistently bad teams are parked at then end.  Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Cleveland are undeniably horrible to watch, and their pay roll can show it.

Now lets see if there is any trend with cash spent, both offense and defense after 5 years of data.  The following graph depicts each team plotted on a scale of total cash, but ordered by how much they actually win.  An upward trend would indicate that cash may be a driver of team performance.

While the data seems relatively level, there is a small trend moving upwards.  Most teams fall under 35-45 wins, and spend about 600 million.  The teams that fall behind spend anywhere from roughly 30 to 70 million less.  However that's not powerful enough to indicate that money is the main driver of performance. Lets look at defensive vs. offensive trends.

Defense Cash Spent Ordered by Total Wins

Offense Cash Spent Ordered by Total Wins

In conclusion, there is no immediate evidence that relates performance and payroll on offense or defense.  However, teams that spend more money overall tend to bring in more wins for their city.  The teams that are consistently bad every year have spent millions less than superior teams of the NFL.  While management most likely has a larger impact on performance, money management can be a contributor in some cases.  

                                                              How does your team stack up?

Team datacards