- The most expensive offenses in the league have major issues heading into 2019.
- Some issues include key injuries, quarterback situations, and coaching concerns.
- None of the top-5 most expensive offenses even ranked top-5 in efficiency last year.
Offense drives the modern NFL. Looking at the most expensive offenses in the league by cap hit, there are major question marks surrounding every single one of them.
- Washington Redskins ($119M) – currently, their best player (left tackle Trent Williams) is saying he won’t play for the team. A good portion of that cap is tied up in quarterback Alex Smith, who certainly is not playing this year (perhaps never again). The Redskins have the most cap tied up in the tight end position, yet rarely threw to TEs last year (only 8 of 109 red zone plays were TE passes).
- Indianapolis Colts ($119M) – unlike the Redskins, this unit appears to be worth its money, ranking as a top-10 offense in 2018 and appearing better this year. But what is going on with Andrew Luck? It sounds like the team doctors don’t even know.It’s certain he won’t play the rest of the preseason with an injury to his calf, but whether it is actually a calf injury, a high ankle issue, or something more ominous such as a bone growth, remains to be seen. How long he will be sidelined is absolutely in question, and this offense is nowhere near the second-best in the NFL without him.
- Oakland Raiders ($117M) – this offense was the second-most expensive last year, Jon Gruden’s first, and ranked 25th in efficiency. This year, they are third-most expensive and still have a major question mark, now surrounding Antonio Brown.Will he find a helmet that allows him to play?When will his feet heal properly? And how will he fit in with a team whose quarterback is certainly a drop-off from Ben Roethlisberger and with an offensive line with pass protection issues far worse than one of the best in the NFL (the Steelers)?
- Green Bay Packers ($117M) – this offense didn’t meet expectations over the last few years, even when Aaron Rodgers was healthy, so they fired longtime head coach Mike McCarthy and hired Matt LaFleur.Of all the most expensive offenses above this one, this team has the fewest question marks from an overall player health and talent perspective if they had to line up right now and play Week 1. But we have big questions regarding LaFleur, how he will mesh with Rodgers, and how much he will improve the offense.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($116M) – like the Packers, the Bucs failed to meet expectations last year and their head coach was fired. In comes Bruce Arians. Unlike LaFleur, we know Arians is a great offensive mind and will get the most out of the Bucs offense.However, there are major questions surrounding quarterback Jameis Winston.How good is he? The team certainly doesn’t think much of him, allowing him to play unattached after extending him to this fifth-year option. Winston is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next year, something no team allows for a No. 1 overall draft pick, if they had faith in him.
Falling with cap hits further outside the top-5 are the No. 6 Los Angeles Chargers at $108M and the No. 7 Dallas Cowboys at $107M. Both teams are in highly similar situations:
- Both teams have starting running backs who are not at camp. Both Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott are holding out until they are assured of more money in new deals.
- Both teams have starting quarterbacks who are in the final year of their deals. Philip Rivers, 37, is delivering a $23M cap hit and is an unrestricted free agent after the season. Dak Prescott, 26, is delivering a mere $2.1M cap hit, but likewise is an unrestricted free agent after the season. Both obviously require new deals, projecting both offenses to be even more expensive in 2020 (unless the Chargers can push heavier cap hits out into the future).
How both the Chargers and Cowboys manage their disgruntled running backs who want more money and their QBs, who need more money, will be interesting, considering both teams are already near the top of the NFL in the cost of their offenses.