The Hidden Art of Sports: How Management Makes or Breaks an NFL Team


Share this graphic on your site!

The Hidden Art of Sports: How Management Makes or Breaks an NFL Team

While the title of MVP is always bestowed upon an athlete, a NFL team’s management has more to do with its success than is often acknowledged. General managers, coaches, coordinators, directors and other members of management build the team, devise the tactics and oversee the training that make it possible for athletes to prevail on the field. General managers, owners, directors of college scouting – all of these and other sports management roles come together to make a team as successful as possible.

Balancing Performance and Payroll

When spending millions of dollars on players, every addition or subtraction from the roster counts, and being the biggest spender doesn’t necessarily equate with being a winner.

Payroll cost per win (regular season 2015) (1, 2)

Carolina Panthers: $10,160,187.00 *

Arizona Cardinals: $10,671,467.08 *

Minnesota Vikings: $12,003,929.09 *

Denver Broncos: $12,184,772.08 **

Kansas City Chiefs: $12,306,297.00 *

Cincinnati Bengals: $12,579,766.33 *

New England Patriots: $13,080,041.25 *

Green Bay Packers: $14,370,547.80 *

Pittsburgh Steelers: $15,618,527.50 *

New York Jets: $15,821,809.40

Seattle Seahawks: $15,962,625.10 *

Houston Texans: $16,628,687.33 *

Detroit Lions: $16,659,991.14

Atlanta Falcons: $16,981,841.25

Washington Redskins: $17,733,835.56 *

St. Louis Rams: $18,139,916.29

Indianapolis Colts: $18,729,145.75

Oakland Raiders: $19,598,200.14

Buffalo Bills: $20,897,484.13

Philadelphia Eagles: $21,443,025.86

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $21,981,523.33

New Orleans Saints: $22,333,026.14

Chicago Bears: $23,731,586.17

San Francisco 49ers: $24,890,302.00

New York Giants: $24,989,017.17

Miami Dolphins: $25,404,676.00

Baltimore Ravens: $27,137,459.00

Jacksonville Jaguars: $29,262,832.80

Dallas Cowboys: $36,775,429.50

San Diego Chargers: $41,074,105.25

Tennessee Titans: $45,778,719.67

Cleveland Browns: $47,349,247.00

* Playoff team

** Super Bowl champ

Spending Efficiently on Free Agents

In no other way does more money get thrown around in the NFL — and not always to efficient ends — than in signing free agents.

Offseason free agent guaranteed money per 2015 win (2, 3)

Buffalo Bills: $10,000.00

Indianapolis Colts: $62,500.00

Carolina Panthers: $246,666.67 *

Green Bay Packers: $300,000.00 *

San Francisco 49ers: $620,000.00

Pittsburgh Steelers: $670,000.00 *

Cincinnati Bengals: $775,000.00 *

Washington Redskins: $822,222.22 *

Arizona Cardinals: $846,153.85 *

Denver Broncos: $1,166,666.67 **

Minnesota Vikings: $1,472,727.27 *

New York Jets: $1,520,000.00

Cleveland Browns: $1,700,000.00

St. Louis Rams: $1,942,857.14

Miami Dolphins: $1,983,333.33

Seattle Seahawks: $2,340,000.00 *

New Orleans Saints: $2,842,857.14

New England Patriots: $3,175,000.00 *

Kansas City Chiefs: $3,354,545.45 *

Dallas Cowboys: $3,375,000.00

Baltimore Ravens: $4,400,000.00

Detroit Lions: $5,014,285.71

Tennessee Titans: $5,500,000.00

Chicago Bears: $6,450,000.00

Atlanta Falcons: $6,662,500.00

Houston Texans: $7,233,333.33 *

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $8,333,333.33

Philadelphia Eagles: $8,457,142.86

San Diego Chargers: $9,050,000.00

Oakland Raiders: $10,100,000.00

Jacksonville Jaguars: $14,880,000.00

New York Giants: $17,666,666.67

* Playoff team

** Super Bowl champ

Smart Drafting

One of the best ways for management to seize the competitive advantage is to draft new talent. This process can reward the team with first pick or the most picks, but it always rewards the team with the smartest picks.

Rookies in Pro Bowl (2015) (4)

Pick: Team: Player: Position

1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston: QB

2: Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota: QB

4: Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper: WR

6: New York Jets: Leonard Williams: DT

9: New York Giants: Ereck Flowers: T

10: St. Louis Rams: Todd Gurley: RB*

18: Kansas City Chiefs: Marcus Peters: CB**

50: Buffalo Bills: Ronald Darby: CB

61: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ali Marpet: G

84: Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Hicks: LB

124: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kwon Alexander: OLB

* Rookie of the Year

** Playoff team

Harnessing the Power of Analytics

Advanced analytics, or the data-based study of performance, salary, game planning and more, is the biggest trend in sports of all types. Take the Minnesota Vikings, for instance. The team fully embraced analytics in the 2015 season. (2, 5)

2014 winning percentage: .438

2015 winning percentage: .688

The One Calling the Shots

Putting together a great team in the front office doesn’t matter much if the head coach is a disaster. Here’s a look at the current crop of NFL coaches. (2)

Team: Coach: Winning % with team

Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Arians: .708:

Atlanta Falcons: Dan Quinn: .500

Baltimore Ravens: John Harbaugh: .602

Buffalo Bills: Rex Ryan: .500:

Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera: .594

Chicago Bears: John Fox: .375:

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis: .549:

Cleveland Browns: Hue Jackson: *:

Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett: .511:

Denver Broncos: Gary Kubiak: .750

Detroit Lions: Jim Caldwell: .563:

Green Bay Packers: Mike McCarthy: .653

Houston Texans: Bill O’Brien: .563

Indianapolis Colts: Chuck Pagano: .641

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gus Bradley: .250:

Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid: .646:

Los Angeles Rams: Jeff Fisher: .430:

Miami Dolphins: Adam Gase: *:

Minnesota Vikings: Mike Zimmer: .563

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick: .730

New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton: .604

New York Giants: Ben McAdoo: *

New York Jets: Todd Bowles: .625:

Oakland Raiders: Jack Del Rio: .438

Philadelphia Eagles: Doug Pederson: *

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Tomlin: .639

San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy: .458

San Francisco 49ers: Chip Kelly: .553

Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll: .581

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dirk Koetter: *:

Tennessee Titans: Mike Mularkey: .222:

Washington Redskins: Jay Gruden: .406

* First-year coach