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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Which defenses got most bang for cap buck

By Mike Sando

The Seattle Seahawks ranked seventh in defensive EPA last season. That was very good, but it was even better given the team's No. 30 ranking in salary-cap space allotted for defensive players. By that measure, Seattle led the NFL in bang for the salary-cap buck.

With the New York Jets clearing cap space by cutting five players, including three on defense, this seemed like a good way to see which teams could feel best about getting a return on their investments. I've started with a look at defenses.

The plus-23 differential between Seattle's No. 7 performance ranking and No. 30 spending ranking left Seattle atop the NFL in bang for the salary-cap buck on defense. The Seahawks, led by a young back seven featuring recent draft choices signed to modest contracts, had $40.3 million in 2012 cap space wrapped up in defensive players.

In contrast, the San Francisco 49ers' more veteran defense cost a league-high $69.1 million in cap space.

Seattle and San Francisco both performed at a high level on defense. So did the Arizona Cardinals. The St. Louis Rams weren't bad, either. As the chart shows, some teams got more from their investments than other teams got from them. Kansas City ranked only 30th in defensive EPA despite ranking fifth in salary-cap space allocated for defense.