Last week, we detailed the 10 NFL teams whose top five cap hits account for the most money this year. To continue the series, here’s a breakdown of the top five cap hits for the next 10 teams:
11. Philadelphia Eagles: Top 5 Cap Hits – $72,488,937
- Fletcher Cox – $23,879,939
- Lane Johnson – $17,848,498
- Zach Ertz – $12,721,500
- Derek Barnett – $10,051,000
- Brandon Graham – $7,988,000
Cox, Johnson, Ertz and Graham are all over the age of 30. Typically, a team would worry the most about paying for past performance, but Ertz is the only player who was showing signs of his age. Cox, Graham, and Johnson are each strong leaders and producers who should be paid highly by an NFL team. Ertz, production wise, has seen a precipitous decline. From 2018 to 2020 his yards per game dropped from 72.7 to 30.5 and his touchdowns per game dropped from 0.5 to 0.09. Barnett was not a guarantee to get his 5th year option, as he has yet to play a full 16 game season and has a season high of 6.5 sacks in 2019. The real story of the Eagles’ salary cap is the $49 million in dead money they are currently carrying. The Eagles look like they will be going through a complete overhaul of their roster over the next two years.
Chicago Bears: Top 5 Cap Hits – $69,326,000
- Allen Robinson – $17,980,000
- Robert Quinn – $14,700,000
- Khalil Mack – $14,646,000
- Akiem Hicks – $12,000,000
- Jimmy Graham – $10,000,000
The Bears are built in a way that historically makes sense for Chicago. Three aggressive defensive linemen who can rush the passer and stop the run. Allen Robinson is an incredibly talented wide receiver who has been vocal in his frustration about who has been throwing him the ball. His chemistry with rookie QB Justin Fields might be enough to keep him in Chicago for the long term. Jimmy Graham is an interesting player to see here as he is playing the same position as the Bears’ 2019 second-round pick Cole Kmet. He only has $3 million guaranteed in the $10 million cap hit and might see himself looking for a new team after cuts.
Indianapolis Colts: Top 5 Cap Hits – $69,030,000
- Carson Wentz – $20,400,000
- DeForest Buckner – $17,000,000
- Ryan Kelly – $14,650,000
- T.Y. Hilton – $8,750,000
- Grover Stewart – $8,230,000
The Colts traded for the ninth-biggest QB cap hit this offseason. This is a low risk gamble, though, as Wentz can be traded in the future with $0 in cap charges for Indianapolis. If Wentz returns to his franchise QB form, the Colts will have a top QB without a top 10 cap charge for the next few years. The Colts have also built their trenches with Buckner, Kelly and Stewart. Their next three cap hits are all o-linemen as well. Hilton is also the 23rd-highest cap hit among WRs this season, and will be an affordable option to either regain his form when he was paired with Andrew Luck or mentor Paris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr.
Washington Football Team: Top 5 Cap Hits – $68,668,250
- Brandon Scherff – $18,036,000
- Landon Collins – $16,918,750
- Kendall Fuller – $13,125,000
- Ryan Fitzpatrick – $10,537,500
- Jonathan Allen – $10,051,000
Brandon Scherff leads the WFT salary cap charges, as he receives his second straight franchise tag. Scherff has been one of the most reliable and high performing IOL in the league since 2015 with 4 Pro Bowls and one first-team All-Pro. Landon Collins was the crown jewel free agent signing to start the 2019 season and has performed far below expectations. With only one interception in the last two seasons, Collins is in the final year of protection for his contract before possibly being cut next year. Kendall Fuller and Jonathan Allen are both strong contributors to one of the most talented defenses in the league. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be starting for his seventh team in 10 seasons and has his best chances to make the playoffs for the first time in his career as a starter.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Top 5 Cap Hits – $67,991,088
- Mike Evans – $16,637,500
- Chris Godwin – $15,983,000
- Jason Pierre-Paul – $12,800,000
- Ali Marpet – $12,025,000
- Tom Brady – $10,545,588
The Buccaneers have two of the top 5 WR salary cap hits for 2021 on their roster between Evans and Godwin. Jason Pierre-Paul is on the final year of a two-year, $25 million contract and has been a solid player on the opposite side of the edge as Shaq Barrett. Marpet is one of the best IOL players in the league and had his best year yet in 2020. Brady has an interesting contract. He is a low cap hit for QB this year and next year ($16.9 million) but has “auto-void” years which will spread the cap hit out to 2023 if he chooses to retire or move to a different team. This gives the Buccaneers cap space to use while he is on the team that they will have to account for when he moves on.
San Francisco 49ers: Top 5 Cap Hits – $67,933,153
- Jimmy Garoppolo – $26,400,000
- Arik Armstead – $12,455,882
- Jimmie Ward – $10,911,765
- Nick Bosa – $9,255,509
- Dee Ford – $8,909,997
Jimmy Garoppolo is the fifth-highest cap hit for QB (and overall) in the NFL. With this high cap hit comes little protection for Garoppolo if the 49ers choose to cut him, as he has no guaranteed money this year and San Francisco can cut him with only a $2.8 million cap charge of dead money. Looking at their defensive linemen in Armstead, Bosa and Ford, you can see that they had an incredibly down year. In 2019, those three combined for 25.5 sacks, in 2020 (with Ford and Bosa injured most of the year) they combined for 3.5. All 3.5 of those came from Armstead, who played a full 16-game season. Jimmie Ward is the 49ers longest tenured player and is a leader on the defense.
Las Vegas Raiders: Top 5 Cap Hits – $66,502,779
- Derek Carr – $22,125,000
- Kolton Miller – $13,469,329
- Yannick Ngakoue – $13,000,000
- Cory Littleton – $9,355,500
- Clelin Ferrell – $8,552,950
Carr’s contract is set up similarly to Jimmy G’s. He could be cut by Las Vegas with only a $2.5 million dead cap hit. The Raiders decided to pull the trigger and re-sign Kolton Miller to a top tackle contract while they could spread it over a manageable amount of time. He is currently the 10th highest cap hit for O-linemen and that will go down over the next five years due to the decision to extend him early. Yannick Ngakoue is a player who held out for a high end long-term deal on the edge but had to settle for a 2-year, $26 million deal after bouncing to two different teams last year. Ferrell has a high cap number as he is a former top five pick but if he doesn’t grow considerably as a contributor he will not get a second contract to the level of his first.
Cleveland Browns: Top 5 Cap Hits – $65,091,189
- Odell Beckham Jr. – $15,750,000
- Jarvis Landry – $14,711,765
- Jack Conklin – $13,000,000
- J.C. Tretter – $11,060,294
- Baker Mayfield – $10,569,130
Cleveland is the first team to have their entire top five be on one side of the ball. OBJ and Jarvis Landry have been underwhelming in their seasons together in Cleveland and could end up being cap casualties if they don’t start producing to their cap value. Conklin was a great addition last season and made an immediate impact in Kevin Stefanski’s offense along with J.C. Tretter, who also had a very strong year. Baker Mayfield also flourished in his first year with Stefanski, reducing his interceptions from 21 to 8 from 2019 to 2020. If he has another year like 2020, the Browns will be trying to figure out exactly how to extend him.
Baltimore Ravens: Top 5 Cap Hits – $61,400,118
- Ronnie Stanley – $15,250,000
- Calais Campbell – $13,000,000
- Brandon Williams – $12,920,000
- Marlon Humphrey – $10,244,000
- Marcus Peters – $9,986,118
Ronnie Stanley is in the first year of his contract extension, which will only be going up for the next four years. If he can recover from his ankle injury, he’ll be fine. Campbell and Williams are both on the final year of their contracts and both may be in the final years with the Ravens as they’re well into their 30s. Marlon Humphrey signed a high long-term extension and is going to be playing one side of the field while Marcus Peters plays the other for the next two seasons.
Denver Broncos: Top 5 Cap Hits – $61,266,330
- Von Miller – $22,125,000
- Graham Glasgow – $11,882,353
- Kyle Fuller – $9,470,588
- Melvin Gordon – $8,941,176
- Bradley Chubb – $8,847,213
The Broncos are an interesting case study when looking at their roster. Von Miller is the fourth-highest cap hit for any defensive player in 2021. When he and Bradley Chubb are on the field at the same time they’re one of the most effective edge combos in the league. Graham Glasgow is a player the Lions probably wish they had retained instead of signing Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Kyle Fuller is on a one-year prove it deal and could flourish in Vic Fangio’s system. Melvin Gordon could also see a career season as Phillip Lindsay is no longer there to split carries.