Lions 13th in cash spending in 2022

With as little as the Lions have done in UFA the last two years, as they absorb the mistakes of Quintrica, they were still 13th in cash spending.

For 2023, we are 25th in cash spending. We will add almost $40M in cash spending for our rookie class, which is more than most teams, but expect us to be in the top half in cash spending

With $18M, the Lions currently sit at 14th in 2023 cap space and when factoring in the rookie contracts, the Lions are 17th with $10M. When you factor in needing at least $5M for in season roster moves and injuries and $3.5M for the PS and another $1.75M from going from 51 to 53, we haven’t got any cap space left for UFA.

But just like the last two years, we will continue to borrow from the future and we will improve our talent, but it likely won’t be a blockbuster.


So I keep hearing about how awful the New Orleans Saints are in terms of CAP but this shows them at only 148 million. Can you explain that to a dummy like me?

It’s how much actual cash they spent for the year. If you notice the Rams spent the most cash in 2022 and that’s because they gave signing bonuses to Matthew Stafford $60M, Cooper Kupp $20M, Aaron Donald $25M, Allen Robinson $15M among others. Even though they gave $120M to those guys, for accounting purposes (salary cap), they only recognized $24M in 2022 . . . what they refer to as Cash over cap. So in 2023, just from those bonuses the Rams will have $24M counting against the cap, but they won’t owe any cash to those players.

The Saints have been doing this very thing for many years. They had small cash outlays in 2022, but huge salary cap charges from signing bonuses paid in early years (2021 and before).

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So it would seem it would be more prudent to give a guy a guaranteed 40 million salary than a 40 million signing bonus spread out over a few years because it would have zero impact on future cap. The only reason I would think amortizing a large bonus over multiple years would be good stewardship is if you believed that you were 1 or 2 players away from wining the superbowl and you needed the space in the current year. So long term pro-ration of bonuses seems more like teams chasing a dream vs. reality. Build through the draft and spend the bulk of your money on current years keeping you balanced for the long term. This seems to be how Brad and company are trying to do it.

If you can do it, yea. But nowadays, all teams borrow from the future to field their current roster. There are a number of different ways to do it and using a signing bonus IS the most common way of doing it.

Yes, and any other way of borrowing from the future (void years, incentive laden contracts, simple restructures, etc).

Teams are at different levels in their “chasing a dream” or reality.

Last year the Bears, Falcons and Texans gave up on their dreams and are in the process of resetting.
The Saints continue to chase a dream that will never be fulfilled. Packers are in the same boat. They’ve been borrowing so long, they are losing good players . . . Rams look like they are there now too.

Other teams are trying to do small adjustments to keep reality from becoming “chasing a dream” - KC, Philly, Buffalo

Lions are like a lot of teams that are trying to build as they “chase a dream” . . . IMO, we have a great foundation.


I realize there is a lot of complexity to it but I think much of that is window dressing. Bottom line is bad money habits eventually come with an expensive bill. I did business consulting for years and I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with owners imploring them to identify their break even point and make sure they were moving in a positive direction. Using current orders to pay past accounts payables or taking out a line of credit to cover expenses almost always turned out bad if they were not moving quickly toward break even. In the NFL I would equate that to wins, playoff berths and championships. If you are going to use future money you better be improving your on-field results correspondingly. The Ram’s managed to hit the mark perfectly but are paying for it now. The Saints spent the future while never getting the necessary playoff run improvement. In small business owners end up shuttering their businesses. In the NFL they just go into reset mode. I suppose the reset time depends on how much they borrowed from the future (as well as managements decisions during the reset). I would agree. I think the lions are setting a really solid foundation. I never thought I would say this but it looks like the Lions organization could become one of the better models in the NFL.


Who knew how bad Quinn was as a GM. We all had some issues with his decisions, but in hindsight you can see all the bad decisions, from UFA signings, drafting, trading of Slay/Diggs, Patricia. What he did was just abysmal. Not only was he bad for the organization, but his poor decisions really started BH in a big hole.

It’s easy to look back at Holmes decision to sign Romeo and Walker and trade/extend Brockers and for various reasons those were bad decisions. All GM’s are going to make some bad decisions, but how much do you blame Holmes and how much is bad luck.

There is nothing wrong with doing a $450M/10yr contract, if it’s a good decision. Make good money decisions and you will be fine, no matter how much you borrow from the future.


Here’s the 2021 where the Lions were 22nd, but they really couldn’t spend much more than they did with all the dead cap they had to absorb from trading Stafford and cleaning out the horrible UFA signings that Quinn made.

And here’s where the Lions were for the last two years combined (17th)

I would think another danger to pushing to much money into the future is the risk of violating the 90% rule. Without looking at the numbers I would think the Saints have no choice but to continue pushing money into the future just to be able to reach the 90% threshold because so much of the current cap is from borrowed money that has already been spent.

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Is this good or bad or mean anything to pay attention to ? Plus the cash spending differential and how much teams move up or down year to year ?

What’s the most important take away ? Is this also relative to owner’s pockets and ability to spend now ?

The best guidance I can give is to not read anything into it. Its only useful when paired with other information.

Personally, I think it’s more important than the salary cap. IMO, fans and reporters look and pay attention to the salary cap far more often than teams do.

Any money paid to a player has to hit the salary cap at some point.

All that money paid has to hit at some point. And players are paid on their perceived worth. GM’s will screw up and overpay players (see almost any of Quinn’s UFA signings) and sometimes you’ll get a bargain (Charles Harris in 2021, DeShon Elliot in 2022).

I would compare the cash spent to their 2021/2022 performance and/or to how much salary cap space teams have.

Tells me:

  • Cleveland has failed miserably, they’ve spent more money than any other team by a long shot and have nothing to show for it. Their cash spending in 2021/2022 limits what they can do going forward.
  • The next six to twelve teams on the two year list have spent a decent amount of money to try to win and it didn’t happen, cap space moving forward dictates whether they can continue to try to win.
  • Bears, Atlanta and Houston are rebooting (the lack of spending supports this)
  • Saints, Packers are screwed (the fact that they are always up tight against the cap and aren’t spending much cash proves this). Much like Bears and Saints were until they rebooted.
  • Bengals are in great shape moving forward (spent less than the cap) but have a strong team and a lot of cap space this year.
  • Carolina seems like a decent team without a decent QB
  • Dallas appears to be biding their time
  • Philly and KC are in great shape, (not sure how long Philly can maintain the talent on their roster)
  • LA Rams spent $137M and won a Super Bowl, went out and re-signed core players/acquired new, spending $283M and sucked. I think they overestimated how good their roster was.
  • Detroit spent $20M in Cash over Cap, which is sad considering we didn’t really sign anyone of significance in the last couple of years, but it’s the price you pay when you have an incompetent buffoon as a GM for five years.

Can any of this show if owner is committing the needed resources especially if paired with off cap spending ?

Browns spent but have a newish owner yet if he sold today , it’s worth more than when get bought them.

Cincy has long been rumored as a budget owner so … will they commit or still see a gap in spending?

The cap also dictates the teams need to spend it eventually

Yes, I was going to say that “kicking the can down the road” is what a lot of teams do but as dangerous as it seems, it’s keeps getting constantly offset by TV contracts and splits flowing into the teams’ resources.

Someone can feel free to correct me, but I believe there’s always multiple annual influxes and teams use those to do what they are doing now - relying on the fact the other above mentioned will not go down, only up. And it’s as guaranteed as death and taxes.

Again, I could be naive to this but I believe this is the layman’s gist of it.

Since 2000, Philly has spent more on player costs than any other team, followed by NO. That’s why they are always tight against the cap and don’t have a lot of wiggle room. Philly, however, has spent wisely on the players they have spent on in recent years. NO is the perennial playoff contender, that just can’t get above average.

Cleveland has spent a lot in the last two years, not sure how wisely they spent their cash though.

Cincy, Arizona, Indy, Jax (new owner now though), KC, Carolina, LA Chargers, Buffalo (New Owner), Tennessee have all been accused of being frugal at times. KC spends their cash as wisely as anyone in the league. I think several have stepped up when they’ve had a chance to win it all (Indy, Arizona, KC).

Is there a source that reports how much teams spend on other things? Front office, field, practice facilities, etc?

I do know for these two they are on the owner, and that is something they (NFLPA and owners) are currently looking at because there are a few cheap owners and there is discussions about the league fitting some of this bill in order to get a better field both practice and actual field in place.

It will come down to owners and the league meeting each other halfway so these guys aren’t playing on playground level stuff.

I’d assume the rest is up to owners. Shiela revamped the place so that her, Brad, Dan (maybe Rod and Chris) are in a mostly glass, open floor type thing office wise so that there is cohesion and everyone can talk to everyone most of the time. But if I recall still individually have a separate, private office.

Dual office situation. And Shiela picked up the tab for that.

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Forbes does reports in August of each year for all the teams that breaks down Revenue, Player expenses and operating income . . . from that you can determine what “Other Expenses” all the teams have those costs are buried in that expense. Other expenses does NOT include interest, taxes or depreciation. The Lions had 124M for the 2021 season.

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It does add when you get the right coach
The right players follow

I’m curious to see how Sean peyton does now with a deep pocket owner but it sounds like he had an owner that spent for him in New Orleans

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