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Thursday, February 21, 2013
Which offenses got most bang for cap buck

By Mike Sando

The $26.7 million in salary-cap space Indianapolis committed to offensive players in 2012 was the smallest amount in the NFL.

It was less than half what the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins allocated -- a testament to the role Andrew Luck played in carrying the Colts to an 11-5 record.

The race for offensive rookie of the year has long been settled in Robert Griffin III's favor. Griffin commanded 29 votes. Luck was second with 11. The Seahawks' Russell Wilson was third with 10. All were legitimate candidates for various reasons.

We've sought ways to quantify each player's performance.

An earlier chart showing how Wilson and Luck fared against eight common opponents provides one example. The chart below lists teams by offensive EPA in relation to salary-cap commitments. The Colts were 12th in production and 32nd in salary-cap commitment. The plus-20 differential between those rankings was first in the NFL.

I've shaded NFC West teams for quick reference.

Seattle, having paid high prices for free agents such as Sidney Rice and Zach Miller, had the fifth-most cap space allocated for offensive players. The Seahawks ranked seventh in offensive EPA, meaning the team got what it paid for, pretty much.

Cap space in a given year isn't a perfect measure of a team's investment. Teams can often manipulate the numbers, choosing to absorb specific cap charges in specifc seasons. The figures can nonetheless help produce a feel for where teams stand in their development.

Weak production is never good; it's especially bad in the face of high cap charges. Six of the seven teams at the bottom of the chart fired head coaches, general managers or both.

Earlier: Defensive rankings.