10 most expensive starting offenses in the NFL

By Michael Dixon
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The salary cap keeps the spending of NFL teams in check. Some teams, of course, opt to spend far less than they’re allowed. The ones who do push it to the limit may spend the money differently than their counterparts, though. These teams spend big money on the offense.

Big contracts don’t always result in great team success. Still, two of the last three NFC Champions (one of whom is a Super Bowl champion) crack our top-10. Most of our highest-paid offenses feature a team with a high-priced quarterback. Still, while Baker Mayfield and Dak Prescott are still on moderate deals, their teams are among our highest spenders.

These teams may not be the best in the NFL. Regardless of where they figure to be in the standings, though they all pay big money for their offensive starters

All salary figures courtesy of Spotrac.

10. Cleveland Browns: $75,508,924

The advantage of having a franchise quarterback like Baker Mayfield still on a rookie deal is it enables a team to spend big money elsewhere. The Browns have definitely taken advantage of that. Receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will make a combined $31.05 million in 2019. That’s nearly 13 percent of Cleveland’s salary cap. Additionally, while the Browns aren’t paying Mayfield big money yet, they are paying to protect him. Four of the five starting offensive lineman will make more than $7 million this season. Cleveland is hoping to finally contend in 2019 and is paying big money to do so.

9. Philadelphia Eagles: $75,871,519

Alshon Jeffery is the big money maker in Philadelphia, bringing in at $14.725 million. Nelson Agholar ($9.387 million) and Zach Ertz ($6.291 million) are also expensive targets for quarterback Carson Wentz. On the line, tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are making slightly less than $16 million combined, while guard Brandon Brooks is just under $12 million. What’s scary is that if we revisit this list in a year, Philadelphia should be much higher thanks to the new deal for Carson Wentz kicking in. Even before that happens, though, the Eagles aren’t exactly doing things on the cheap.

8. Tennessee Titans: $76,804,176

While quarterback Marcus Mariota ($20.922 million) and tackle Taylor Lewan ($16.7 million) are the primary culprits, this is an expensive top-to-bottom offense. Every starter makes at least seven figures. Even in 2019, that’s fairly rare. On top of that, all but three of the starters will make at least $5 million in 2019. So, the money is pretty evenly dispersed among the 11 starters. Also, remember that the $76,804,176 figure doesn’t even include Dion Lewis and Tajae Sharpe, who aren’t presently listed as starters but do figure to see significant playing time. Combined, they’ll make just under $7 million. This offense comes with a pretty good price tag.

7. Atlanta Falcons: $79,292,670

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are definitely the guys who jump out. Atlanta’s expensive offense is far from a two-man show, though. In fact, four Falcons starters (Ryan, Jones, Jake Matthews, Alex Mack) will make $11.05 million or more in 2019. Austin Hooper ($2,218,357) is the cheapest starting offensive player. While there may be some reasonably priced players, the Atlanta offense doesn’t have any bargains. Time will tell if the Falcons offense regains the form that it had in its NFC Championship winning season of 2016. If that doesn’t happen, it won’t be because the front office was afraid to spend.

6. Los Angeles Chargers: $84,119,699

Los Angeles boasts a veteran laden group of starters on offense. It really shows with their price tags. Of course, a veteran quarterback like Philip Rivers is going to command a lot of money ($23 million). This isn’t all about one man, though. Rivers’ top blocker (Russell Okung) and top target (Keenan Allen) combine for more than $28 million. Despite two of its players (Dan Feeney and Sam Tevi) making less than $2 million combined, the starting offensive line will averages more than $6 million per man in 2019. The Chargers are one of the NFL’s most consistently exciting teams. They’re paid like it.

5. Dallas Cowboys: $85,342,081

Not surprisingly, the Cowboys spend a lot of money up front. While Connor Williams ($1,247,498) comes relatively cheap, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and La’el Collins are anything but. Combined, those four will count for more than $50 million against Dallas’ cap in 2019. Collins is the only one of that group not making at least $10 million. Elsewhere on offense, Amari Cooper ($13.924 million) brings the biggest tag of anyone outside of Smith or Martin. And as expensive as this offense is now, imagine what it will be if and when Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott get new deals.

4. Oakland Raiders: $88,801,997

Naturally, Derek Carr leads the way in Oakland at $22.5 million. Mark Davis will have plenty of other big checks to cut for his starting offense. The second-highest-paid player is not Antonio Brown. Trent Brown holds that honor, coming in at $15.25 million. AB, meanwhile, is just under $15 million. It doesn’t step there, either. Tyrell Williams and Rodney Hudson are both bringing in eight figures. When we tunw into HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this summer, we’re going to see some high-priced players prominently featured.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $89,945,971

While the Bucs have some good value players on offense, the majority of the offense is set to make some serious scratch this season. Jameis Winston is the top earner, coming in at just under $21 million. After that, there’s plenty of money for Winston’s top targets like Mike Evans ($16.8 million) and Cameron Brate ($7 million). Winston’s blockers like Donovan Smith ($12.5 million), Ali Marpet ($11.025), and Ryan Jensen ($10 million) are also well paid. Winston is definitely facing some pressure in 2019, but he’s not the only high-priced player who needs to step up his game.

2. Indianapolis Colts: $90,358,203

Andrew Luck ($27.525 million) is clearly the franchise player in Indianapolis. T.Y. Hilton ($15 million), Devin Funchess ($10 million), Eric Ebron ($7 million), and Jack Doyle ($5,337,500) are also paid quite well to catch passes from Luck. Up front, Anthony Costanzo ($11.05 million) is the highest-paid player on a starting offensive line that will collectively make just under $25 million. As we head into 2019, the Colts are not only spending money, but spending it on the right people. We haven’t always been able to say this about this team.

1. Green Bay Packers: $94,217,791

Green Bay tops our list despite the fact that two starters (Aaron Jones and Marquez Valdes-Scantling) are making less than $1 million. There are some big checks being paid out to the rest of the offense. Aaron Rodgers, of course, tops the offense (and entire team) at $26.5 million. Following Rodgers, David Bakhtiari, Jimmy Graham, and Davante Adams are all set to make eight figures in 2019. Bryan Bulaga and Corey Linsley, meanwhile, both top $8 million. Now, will the high-priced offense help Green Bay return to the playoffs in 2019? That remains to be seen.