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Chiefs, Eagles took very different financial paths to building Super Bowl rosters

How the Eagles managed to Moneyball their way to the Super Bowl despite still paying Alshon Jeffery

Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

In many ways, Super Bowl LVII will be painted as a David vs. Goliath matchup. At quarterback, we have former and potentially current MVP Patrick Mahomes going to his third Super Bowl and facing Jalen Hurts, who is only in his third season. At head coach, Andy Reid is going to his fourth Super Bowl over 24 years in the NFL against Nick Sirianni, only in his second season of being in charge of the Eagles. And there’s a variety of playoff experience for most players on each respective roster.

Only a handful of players remain from Philadelphia’s Super Bowl LII win five years ago. But a significant chunk of the Chiefs’ current roster has been to each of the last five AFC Championship games, and this will be Kansas City’s third Super Bowl in the last four years.

However, these are not the only ways in which the Chiefs have outsized the Eagles leading into the Super Bowl, nor the most important when it comes to how the other 30 teams will operate moving forward in their attempts to be next year’s champion. Because Kansas City has also spent a lot more money on their roster, allocated their available funds to each position differently, and though the term “Moneyball” is often reserved for baseball, it is no less a strategy that has helped lead Philadelphia back onto the brink of a Super Bowl championship.

From one of the NFL’s most expensive quarterbacks to one of the league’s best values at the position and many more differences, these are the important ways in which the Chiefs and Eagles differ on their 2022 salary cap management.


Chiefs ($106 million) 3rd

Eagles ($67 million ) 28th

Per, Kansas City’s rostered resources on offense in 2022 accounted for over $100 million, third-most in the NFL behind the Commanders (what the hell?) and Cowboys. Though Travis Kelce puts the Chiefs in the top 10 for tight end spending, Kansas City is roughly average in spending at RB, WR, and OL compared to the rest of the league.

On the Eagles side, Jalen Hurts leads to a lot of savings at quarterback, but Philadelphia also ranks 23rd in running back spending, 24th in receiver spending, and 22nd at tight end. The Eagles put their money into the offensive line, where they ranked just a hair behind the Browns for the eighth-most money spent in 2022.

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Chiefs ($38.8 million) 2nd

Eagles ($5 million) 31st

Nearly $35.8 million of this is going to Patrick Mahomes, the second-highest paid quarterback in the NFL in 2022 behind Ryan Tannehill at $38.6 million. If the Chiefs do not touch Mahomes’ contract this year, his salary cap goes up to $46.8 million, but he will drop to third overall behind Deshaun Watson at $55 million and Dak Prescott at just over $49 million.

Though Mahomes signed a record 10-year, $450 million contract in 2020, a somewhat complicated deal that continuously grants future guarantees on the third day of each league year, he is actually a bargain by NFL standards. As the NFL’s best quarterback, Mahomes is not likely to ever be the highest-paid QB in any given season unless he negotiates a new deal. If quarterback salaries keep going up, Mahomes may choose to do that sometime around 2027, when he’s set to have a salary cap hit of $60 million.

Part of what made Washington’s offense so expensive this year was their decision to pay quarterback Carson Wentz a cap hit of $28.3 million, the sixth-largest at the position in the NFL, two years after Philadelphia decided to cut bait and eat a massive $33.8 million dead money cap hit in 2021.

Thanks to their decision to trade him to the Colts in 2021, the Eagles were completely off the hook for Wentz’s salary by 2022. This will probably lead more teams toward trading overpaid quarterbacks in the future as Philadelphia has proven that the move’s benefits can outweigh the negatives in a short period of time, even if it just means you have more room to spend dead cap space. What is dead cap and how much of it did each team spend?

Dead Cap

Eagles ($64.5 million)

Chiefs ($16.4 million)

Philadelphia technically spent less money on their current roster to get to the Super Bowl, but they had to account for nearly $50 million more than Kansas City in 2022 when it came to dead salary cap hits.

Almost 30 percent of the Eagles’ 2022 salary cap was dedicated to dead cap — simply put, money remaining from signing bonuses for players who were cut — and that even included several players who are still on Philadelphia’s roster: Fletcher Cox has a $12.8 million dead money hit in 2022 because the team cut him from a larger contract last year and then re-signed him. The Eagles did the same with Derek Barnett, who has a $7.2 million dead hit and then signed a new contract. Though Cox only has a salary cap hit of $4 million this season, the Eagles are also accounting nearly $13 million for Cox from his previous contract.

This will not show up on Philly’s total salary cap allocation for the defensive tackle position but technically that is money they’ve spent for Fletcher Cox. A total of $17 million against the salary cap. Much worse than that though is that the Eagles are paying a $5.4 million cap hit to former NFL receiver Alshon Jeffery over two years past his last game.

The Eagles are set to still have the second-most dead cap in 2023, while the Chiefs are currently in line to have the least. Kansas City has just $1.4 million in dead money left over from the Tyreek Hill trade, with their biggest dead cap hit coming from linebacker Anthony Hitchens at $4.2 million.


Eagles ($81.4 million) 13th

Chiefs ($77.8 million) 17th

Though Philadelphia has been way more active in acquiring veteran defensive resources, including defensive tackle Javon Hargrave — the highest-paid player on the Eagles in 2022 at $17.8 million — Darius Slay, Haason Reddick, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, James Bradberry, Linval Joseph, Ndamukong Suh, and first-round pick Jordan Davis, they surprisingly do not spend much more on defense than Kansas City.

The difference of $3.6 million is exactly what the Eagles paid Josh Sweat, an edge rusher who had a career-high 11 sacks in 2022.

This changes once you account for the combined $29 million in dead cap space for Cox, Barnett, and Malik Jackson alone. But on the books for active players, the two teams appear to be similar in defensive spending. Now consider that $29 million is the 2022 salary cap hit just for Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, one of the top all-around players in the league.

Kansas City also has a $13.2 million cap hit on EDGE Frank Clark, but no other defensive player makes more than $5 million. If the Chiefs make no changes to their contracts, Jones will make $28.2 million and Clark will make $30.1 million against the cap in 2023.

Whereas Kansas City has consolidated their defensive resources to mainly two players (safety Justin Reid gets a big raise next season), Philadelphia has spread the money around as best they can. The Eagles ranked sixth on defense by DVOA, while the Chiefs ranked 17th. The difference against the pass was more significant: Philly is first and Kansas City is 20th.

The Chiefs and Eagles took different approaches to roster building, and on Sunday we’ll see which one was the Super Bowl-winning strategy.