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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Last year, at least, OL spending paid off

By Adam Teicher

I was curious after learning the Kansas City Chiefs were at this point 31st among the 32 NFL teams in offensive line expenditures with regard to their salary cap. They are 32nd and last when it comes to cash spending on their line, defined as money that will be paid out in salaries and bonuses this year.

So I went back and looked at how the teams that paid their linemen well, and those that didn't, fared last season. Turns out that six of the 11 highest-spending teams with regard to the cap made the playoffs. The Chiefs, by the way, were 11th. The Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks? They spent more than any other team on their offensive line.

The eight teams with the lowest salary-cap expenditures on the offensive line didn't make the playoffs last season.

With regard to cash spending, six of the nine highest offensive-line spenders made the playoffs. Nine of the bottom 10 spenders didn't.

It's just one year, making it a small sample size. I went back through previous years and the correlation between offensive-line spending and making the playoffs isn't historically so consistent. And a lack of spending at other position groups also seemed to mean failure. The bottom six spending teams at both running back and wide receiver, for instance,  didn't make the playoffs. The bottom four spending teams at tight end, also failed to reach the postseason, and interestingly the top four spending teams at this position group did.

So there's probably a million different ways of doing it correctly. Maybe the Chiefs are on to something. There's no reason for them to panic after losing three of last season's offensive line regulars to free agency. They've been diligent in recent years in loading up with linemen in the draft and then developing them, so they can line up and play a game right now and possibly be fine.

Possibly being fine doesn't help teams make the playoffs. That's why I'm not certain the Chiefs are set yet on the offensive line.