The NFL players association recently released the amount each of the league's 30 teams is doling out for player salaries this season, and while the fact that the Cowboys are near the top is hardly startling, the other four biggest spenders might surprise you.
Expansion franchises Carolina and Jacksonville are first and fourth, respectively. Washington and Houston are in there, too. Remove the 6-1 Cowboys from the equation, and four teams paying a total of more than $201 million are just 7-19 through Week 7.
The 2-5 Cardinals have spent the least amount, $35.85 million. That's $1 million less than that spent by the Packers. Other NFC Central numbers: Vikings, $40.89 million; Lions, $41,785 million; Bucs, $41.87 million; and Bears, $43.75 million. The Super Bowl champion 49ers have spent $40.645 million.
Although the 1995 salary cap is $42.05 million (which includes $4.95 million per club in player benefits), 12 teams will spend more than that, primarily because of large signing bonuses. For cap purposes, signing bonuses are prorated over the length of a contract, but teams pay the entire amount at the time the player signs. If they had not given Deion Sanders a $13 million signing bonus last month, the Cowboys would have only the league's 22nd-largest payroll this year.
Here's a look at the league's five biggest spenders, their 1995 payroll and their two highest-salaried players for '95.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]