Tampa Bay spent a whopping $75.8 million on offense, and the result wasn’t exactly the “Greatest Show on Turf.’’ Rookie running back Doug Martin had a very nice season, and quarterback Josh Freeman set a bunch of franchise records. The offense did some nice things at times, but it wasn’t very consistent. No other team spent more on offense, but Tampa Bay’s figure might have been a little skewed by the front-loaded contracts the Bucs gave guard Carl Nicks and receiver Vincent Jackson in free agency.
The Bucs spent only $41.9 million on defense, and the disparity showed. If Tampa Bay wants to be a playoff contender in 2013, it’s going to need to spend some more on defense, particularly in the secondary.
The Atlanta Falcons also had a disparity in their spending between offense and defense. They paid $66.8 million to their offensive players and $50.3 to their defensive players. I don’t expect that to change too much in 2013, because the Falcons have high-priced receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones, and quarterback Matt Ryan probably will get a hefty contract extension sometime this offseason.
The other two NFC South teams were fairly balanced in their 2012 spending. The New Orleans Saints paid their offensive players $53.1 million and their defensive players $53.9 million. Although the Saints obviously need to improve their defense, I don’t anticipate their spending pattern changing much in 2013. They’ll add some defensive players, but it’s likely they’ll be parting ways with some high-priced defensive veterans to get under the cap.
The Carolina Panthers paid $55.6 million to their offense and $57.4 million to their defense. I’d expect a similar balance in 2013, but the Panthers are going to have to trim on both sides of the ball, because they’re about $16 million over the expected cap.