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Which Running Backs Cost the Most Per Snap?

In an earlier piece I used some salary cap information to find a cheap dynasty trade target at the wide receiver position. I thought that in the lull between the Super Bowl and the NFL combine it might be helpful to continue to go through salary cap data and see if it tells us anything else about what to expect going forward.

Today I’m going to look at running back cap hits, but relative to how much those RBs played in 2015. The table below contains data from Spotrac where I’ve created a column which is the player’s 2016 cap hit divided by the player’s 2015 snap count. I have some discussion below the table.

NAME HIT DEAD SAVE SAVEPCT SNAPS 2016 $ per 2015 Snap
ARIAN FOSTER $8,925,000.00 $2,300,000.00 $6,625,000.00 0.74 190 $46,973.68
TOBY GERHART $3,500,000.00 $- $3,500,000.00 1.00 87 $40,229.89
MARSHAWN LYNCH $11,500,000.00 $5,000,000.00 $6,500,000.00 0.57 310 $37,096.77
DONALD BROWN $3,500,000.00 $- $3,500,000.00 1.00 120 $29,166.67
ROY HELU $2,000,000.00 $- $2,000,000.00 1.00 87 $22,988.51
CJ SPILLER $4,500,000.00 $3,750,000.00 $750,000.00 0.17 200 $22,500.00
JAMAAL CHARLES $5,312,500.00 $- $5,312,500.00 1.00 264 $20,123.11
TAIWAN JONES $1,150,000.00 $- $1,150,000.00 1.00 64 $17,968.75
DEMARCO MURRAY $8,000,000.00 $13,000,000.00 $(5,000,000.00) (0.62) 482 $16,597.51
ADRIAN PETERSON $11,000,000.00 $- $11,000,000.00 1.00 665 $16,541.35
RYAN MATHEWS $4,000,000.00 $3,000,000.00 $1,000,000.00 0.25 245 $16,326.53
JONATHAN STEWART $9,550,000.00 $7,300,000.00 $2,250,000.00 0.24 606 $15,759.08
ANTHONY DIXON $1,316,668.00 $166,668.00 $1,150,000.00 0.87 89 $14,794.02
JOIQUE BELL $3,500,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $2,500,000.00 0.71 243 $14,403.29
LORENZO TALIAFERRO $675,146.00 $150,292.00 $524,854.00 0.78 52 $12,983.58
LESEAN MCCOY $7,675,000.00 $13,000,000.00 $(5,325,000.00) (0.69) 599 $12,813.02
REX BURKHEAD $700,550.00 $25,550.00 $675,000.00 0.96 58 $12,078.45
DEXTER MCCLUSTER $3,650,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $2,650,000.00 0.73 305 $11,967.21
KERWYNN WILLIAMS $600,000.00 $- $600,000.00 1.00 51 $11,764.71
STEPFAN TAYLOR $725,125.00 $50,125.00 $675,000.00 0.93 62 $11,695.56
DARREN SPROLES $4,500,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $3,500,000.00 0.78 393 $11,450.38
SHANE VEREEN $4,916,667.00 $2,333,334.00 $2,583,333.00 0.53 431 $11,407.58
  • Marshawn Lynch is reportedly retiring, so that’s one name at the top of the list that’s already gone.
  • HOU sounds likely to either ask Arian Foster to take a haircut on his salary, or they’ll outright cut the soft-tissue-nightmare running back. The interesting question is where does HOU go from there? I’m as much in the replaceability-of-RB camp as anyone, but it seems like there’s also a theoretical limit to that idea with the 2015 HOU backfield being on the wrong side of that limit. The team should look to make changes to their backfield such that it’s at least not a constant source of negative plays. The fourth RB in terms of carries, Jonathan Grimes, was the only halfback on the team with a greater than 4.0 yards/carry average. Between Foster’s age, his injury history, and his cap number, it’s probably time to move on.
  • Toby Gerhart, Donald Brown, and Roy Helu seem like they could all be cut without any noticeable impact to RB workloads. I actually like Roy Helu for the right team considering that he’s a great pass catcher. But he is also somewhat superfluous in OAK where Latavius Murray played a lot of snaps and Marcel Reece is also able to fill a similar pass catching role.
  • Most of CJ Spiller’s cap hit is also dead money. The team doesn’t seem to have a compelling reason to cut him, even though he played very little. Spiller is also going to be 29 this year, which isn’t great.
  • The Vikings could probably cut Adrian Peterson loose and not suffer a lot as a result, but they won’t. They apparently enjoy having $11 million tied up in a player that they take off the field when they need to come back from a deficit. If a player isn’t useful in the scenario where scoring points is essential, how useful is that player likely to be in general?
  • The Eagles have RBs who will make $16k, $16k, and $11k per 2015 snap. That’s not great Bob. The Eagles are like a shitty car that has an expensive and ill-performing after market stereo. Are after market stereos still a thing? In the 90s they were everything.
  • Even if the Lions had to eat all $3.5 million of Joique Bell’s salary, it would probably be worth it just so the coaches wouldn’t be tempted to play a 30-year-old running back next year. But they don’t have to eat the whole thing. There’s only $1 million in dead money. I’ve tried to make some offers to acquire Ameer Abdullah as something of a post-hype sleeper.

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