Commentary

FBO: Position group salary analysis

When it comes to QB, you get what you pay for. RB? Not so much.

Updated: June 15, 2010, 12:57 PM ET
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
Philip RiversKirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireThe Chargers gave Rivers a fat extension, but both the QB and the team had a lot to be happy about.

It doesn't take knowledge of the impending lockout to know the NFL these days is a high stakes game. The league's 32 owners have to shell out billions of dollars to acquire and retain talent; that might seem like a small beer for wildly successful franchises like the Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles, but would you want to be the Ford family, propping up a dismal Lions team in a half-full stadium? Probably not.

Every owner enters the league expecting to spend money, but most owners hold out some hope that they'll see some return on their investment. Earning the television rights fees commensurate with membership in the NFL is one thing, but when a general manager goes to his owner and asks for a huge lump sum to pay a free agent, well, it's only natural that the owner would expect that player to improve the team.

Do owners that spend more at a given spot actually see a return on their investment, though? And do the relative cheapskates breeze through, saving money without sacrificing performance? It depends on the position.

In this article, we'll look at the teams that spent the most and the least at each spot on the field in 2009 and use Football Outsiders' advanced statistics to reveal what those organizations got in return.


To read Football Outsiders' analysis of the highest and lowest payrolls at each position group around the NFL, including a cautionary tale for aspiring star running backs, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.