NFL teams have spent the past six months reshaping their rosters and now, finally, the 2022 regular season is nearly upon us. But which teams have truly pushed all their pieces to the middle of the table and are ready to make a serious run to Super Bowl LVII? Welcome to The Ringer’s All In Week, where we’ll examine the quarterback moves, team-building philosophies, and gambles that teams have made to compete for a championship and determine what it truly means to be all in.
They say that drinking is borrowing tomorrow’s happiness for today. That is also a neat summation of how the Rams won the Super Bowl last season. They traded away their future draft picks (including seven consecutive first-rounders), mostly for star players. They paid those stars by pushing their debt into the future. At nearly every opportunity, the Rams swapped their future assets for a chance at present glory—a process we called going “all in.” The Rams were rewarded by winning a Super Bowl in their home stadium. In today’s NFL, it seems that borrowing from tomorrow is increasingly the price of tasting today’s champagne.
But how do we measure how all in a team is in a given season? To answer this, The Ringer is proud to unveil the All In-dex: our measurement of how all in each NFL team is entering the 2022 season. By looking at a team’s draft pick capital and analyzing its spending, we have created a formula to analyze how much of a team’s resources are being maximized to win today. Not only can it tell us which teams are all in for a Super Bowl this season, but just as importantly, it can also tell us which teams are stockpiling for the future, and which teams are stuck in no-man’s-land while being pulled in two different directions.
Unsurprisingly, the Rams rank no. 1 in our All In-dex as the most all in. Equally unsurprising is that the Houston Texans rank no. 32 as the least all in team (by a lot).
Teams have two main types of capital: money and draft picks. The Ringer’s All In-dex measures both. A team’s All In-dex score is 50 percent how a team pays its players and 50 percent the value of its draft capital.
Measuring Draft Capital
In terms of draft capital, less is more—the less draft capital a team has, the more all in we consider it to be. In nearly all cases, teams without future draft capital have exchanged those picks for veteran players or the ability to move up in past drafts (unless you’re the Dolphins and you were stripped of your first-rounder for breaking the rules by trying to tamper with Tom Brady).
We measured a team’s draft capital by adding up the value of its draft picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024. To get those values, we used the Chase Stuart Draft Value Chart. The chart assigns a point value to each pick in the draft. Having the first pick is worth a bajillion points (give or take), while the last pick in the draft is worth essentially nothing. So if you add up the point values for a team’s picks, you get the value of its draft. Compare each team’s ranking to each other, and we see their relative draft capital.
For example, the Giants had the most valuable draft in 2022 largely because they had two picks in the top seven of the first round. Meanwhile, the Rams did not pick in the top 100 and subsequently had the one of the least valuable drafts in 2022. So since the Rams’ draft value is much lower than the Giants’ draft value, the Rams are more all in than the Giants in terms of their draft picks this season.
To be clear, we are not measuring the players themselves. The Giants took Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux no. 5 and Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal no. 7, but we are not evaluating whether those were good choices or whether those players will have good careers. We are merely measuring that, historically, the fifth and seventh picks are very valuable, which means the Giants are investing in their future.
With spending, more is more. The more money a team is pouring into its team, the more all in we consider them to be. We use two metrics to evaluate how all in a team is financially.
- How much cash is the team spending? This is how much money the team is paying players on its roster this year. Confusingly, this is NOT the salary cap figure. It might sound strange to not include the salary cap in a spending analysis, but our reasoning is simple: The salary cap is accounting, and therefore misleading. It is fluid, flexible, and can be finessed (like your taxes). We get a more accurate picture of a team’s money by tracking the cash spending being paid to players. Think of this number as real money spent—the money a team is paying via direct deposit in a given year.
- What is the team’s average annual cost of all its player contracts? This is the average annual value of every player’s contract combined.
Here’s an example: Let’s say a player signs a two-year contract for $10 million total. For the sake of the example, let’s say they get $0 in Year 1 and $10 million in Year 2. The cash spending in Year 1 would be $0, but the average value of the contract in Year 1 would be $5 million. (The cash spending tracks payments). The average value is the snapshot of the roster’s perceived value. We need both numbers to track how all in a team is for a given season.
We measured team spending and average annual team value for 2022 and 2023 only. Numbers for 2024 and beyond are available, but usually include dummy years on contracts that players won’t actually play on. Our financial numbers come courtesy of Jason Fitzgerald’s salary cap tracking website, Over the Cap.
Building the All In-dex
We calculated a draft capital score and a spending score. Each score is normalized so the average is 100. If a team’s spending score is 90, it is spending less than the average team. If that same team’s draft capital score is 110, it has less draft capital than the average team (probably because it traded some picks away). Combine the team’s scores—a 90 for spending and a 110 for draft capital—and it gets an average of 100, giving it a perfectly average score on the All In-dex. (For the record, the most perfectly average team in this exercise is the Dallas Cowboys.)
OK, the boring methodology is over. Here is the All In-dex for 2022.
The 2022 All In-dex
1 = The Most All In
32 = The Least All In
1. Los Angeles Rams
Spending rank: 7 out of 32
Draft Ranking: 1 out of 32
Bottom line: Truly all in
Unsurprisingly, the Super Bowl champions top our All In-dex. Financially, they’ve shelled out major cash to keep their star players, from quarterback Matthew Stafford to defensive tackle Aaron Donald to cornerback Jalen Ramsey to receiver Cooper Kupp (and even added receiver Allen Robinson II in free agency). In the draft, the Rams have traded seven (!) consecutive first-round selections and didn’t have a pick in the top 100 this year. The result: winning a Super Bowl at home in their brand-new $5.5 billion stadium. Nobody can say it better than the T-shirt Rams general manager Les Snead wore to their Super Bowl parade: “F Them Picks.”
2. Denver Broncos
Spending rank: 12
Draft rank: 2
Bottom line: Russell Wilson, a young core, and a $70 billion bankroll
The Denver Broncos rank second on the All In-dex after trading for quarterback Russell Wilson, which cost them two first-rounders and two second-rounders. Financially, Denver is not all in—yet. But that could change soon. Denver was just purchased by Walmart heir Rob Walton and Co. (net worth: more than $58 billion, or almost 15 times more than the other owners in the AFC West combined). He is so rich that he got Roger Goodell’s name wrong.
The Broncos new owner is so powerful he doesn’t even have to save Roger GOODell’s name correctly lol pic.twitter.com/nQuKrkljKz— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) August 9, 2022
While the NFL has a salary cap, having liquid cash to liberally spend tremendously helps a team’s salary cap flexibility, and its ability to go all in. (The NFL salary cap rules allow teams to pay signing bonuses in cash up front, while spreading the cap hit from those bonuses across multiple years. Also, the NFL’s antiquated funding rule requires teams to put much of the money owned in future guarantees into escrow, something that is easier for cash-rich owners to do.) We’ll see how much the Waltons want to spend when the Broncos re-sign Wilson, which will likely happen within 12 months and cost around $50 million annually. If the Waltons spend as aggressively as Rams owner Stan Kroenke (whose wife, Ann, is Rob Walton’s first cousin and is also a Walmart heir) did, look out.
3. Cleveland Browns
Spending rank: 5
Draft rank: 3
Bottom line: All in on Deshaun Watson
Cleveland has invested more in Deshaun Watson than any team has invested in a single person in NFL history. First, Cleveland traded three first-round picks to Houston for Watson. Then the team signed him to a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed deal—shattering the record for the most guaranteed money ever given to a player. Cleveland did this even though Watson was facing 24 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct (all but one of the suits has since been settled). NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson described Watson’s conduct as “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL,” and last week, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a settlement in which Watson will be suspended for 11 games and will be fined $5 million.
The Browns went all in on the Watson era, knowing some sort of suspension was likely. And in part due to the way Watson’s deal is structured, the Browns have the most expensive roster this year on paper, but their actual cash payments this season are the third-lowest of any team (just $138.4 million).
4. Miami Dolphins
Spending rank: 8
Draft rank: 4
Bottom line: Accidentally all in
The Dolphins have no business being this high, but there’s something very Miami about spending above your means. The Dolphins vaulted into the top four earlier this month when the NFL stripped Miami of its 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 third-rounder after an investigation found that owner Stephen Ross tried to lure Tom Brady to the Dolphins against NFL rules. That comes after Miami already had the least draft capital in the most recent draft—even less than the Rams!—due to trading a first-, a second-, and a fourth-rounder for Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill, leaving them without a pick in the top 100. And the Dolphins shelled out a boatload of money in free agency to build a competent offense around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. All in all, the Dolphins have spent (and forfeited) roughly the amount of capital to get Hill and receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. that the Broncos used to get Russell Wilson. Tua has to deliver this year, because Miami can’t offer him any more help than what he’s getting.
5. San Francisco 49ers
Spending rank: 16
Draft rank: 5
Bottom line: A contender, but not a spender
The 49ers being fifth in draft capital but just 16th in spending illustrates how this franchise is stuck in no-man’s-land. Their draft ranking is the residue of their trade up to get QB Trey Lance, which cost them three first-round picks plus a third-rounder. But their cap ranking recognizes that this team isn’t spending as much as it can because it still has money tied up in Jimmy Garoppolo. Now Lance is pegged to be the starter, but Garoppolo won’t play for them in 2022, and the $27 million cap hit they’ve carried throughout this year could have been spent on players who, you know, will actually play for the 49ers. The 49ers don’t have time to dillydally. They were a dropped interception away from making the Super Bowl. Considering Lance’s rookie deal subsidizes expensive stars for four seasons, the 49ers have now failed to maximize two of those years.
6. New Orleans Saints
Spending rank: 3
Draft rank: 8
Bottom line: Borderline delusional
Have you ever seen kids do the marshmallow test? A kid can either eat one marshmallow now, or wait five minutes to get two. It’s a marvelous thing to watch.
The Saints would pop that marshmallow in their mouth in three seconds. No team more consistently plucks their future draft picks to make draft picks now. But this might be their boldest experiment yet. With Drew Brees retired and Sean Payton “retired,” New Orleans’s win total in sportsbooks this year is 8.5—but by our accounting, the team still ranks as the sixth-most all in for this season. Then again, who goes to New Orleans and worries how they’ll feel tomorrow morning?
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Spending rank: 1
Draft rank: 10
Bottom line: Maximizing the Justin Herbert window
With Justin Herbert still on his cheap rookie contract, the Chargers are doing everything they can to surround him with talent before they have to quintuple his salary. The team traded second- and sixth-round picks to add former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack to its defense this offseason, plus spent in free agency at cornerback (J.C. Jackson) and defensive tackle (Sebastian Joseph-Day). Last week, they re-signed safety Derwin James to a massive contract to keep him in L.A.; that move had major All In ramifications, rocketing the Chargers from sixth to first in spending. Aside from a glaring weakness at right tackle, the Chargers are making every move you want a team to make with a player as special as Herbert.
8. Las Vegas Raiders
Spending rank: 21
Draft rank: 6
Bottom line: Trying to keep their heads above water
New head coach Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler came over from New England and started by trying to fix the many roster mistakes that Jon Gruden made. Their first moves were major ones: signing Chandler Jones and his 107.5 career sacks to bolster an underperforming defensive line, and trading a first- and second-round pick this year to Green Bay for receiver Davante Adams. It’s a bold, win-now move for a team that sportsbooks peg as the favorite to finish in … last place in the AFC West. Interestingly, the Raiders gave QB Derek Carr a contract “extension” this year, but in reality the Raiders could cut or trade him after this season. It seems Vegas’s 2022 is about competing in a loaded AFC West, but also a year for McDaniels to take Carr on a test drive.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spending rank: 2
Draft rank: 13
Bottom line: Brady’s Last Year in Tampa (for real this time)
When Tom Brady decided to join the Bucs in 2020, the team shifted all of its finances to facilitate a maximum-effort Super Bowl run—and they were immediately rewarded with a championship. But now the Bucs are entering what is likely their final season with Brady, who seems poised to retire (again) or leave in free agency at the end of this season. There will be a mess when he’s gone. If Brady leaves or retires after this year, the Bucs will have nearly $35 million of dead money in 2023 while also negotiating extensions for wide receiver Mike Evans, left tackle Donovan Smith, linebacker Devin White, and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. But those are tomorrow’s problems. Right now, the Bucs have one more run left with Brady, and they are spending more than nearly every other team to give themselves one last shot.
10. Buffalo Bills
Spending rank: 4
Draft rank: 14
Bottom line: Spending like a big-market team
The Super Bowl favorites are spending with the big boys. In March, they signed 33-year-old edge rusher Von Miller fresh off his mercenary Super Bowl run in L.A., and they paid him the premium price of $17.5 million a year for three seasons. Buffalo dealt their first-rounder for Stefon Diggs in 2020, but have held onto their high draft picks since then. That makes sense considering they have QB Josh Allen signed until 2028 and they will be a contender every year he is healthy.
11. Carolina Panthers
Spending rank: 14
Draft rank: 9
Bottom line: Are you lost, buddy?
No team in the NFL is more out of sync with reality. Carolina is projected for 6.5 wins this year by sportsbooks and they are on the same All In-dex level as the Super Bowl–favorite Buffalo Bills. One window into the decision-making that got them here: the Panthers managed to burn a second-round pick by trading for Sam Darnold last year, but even after replacing him with Baker Mayfield, the Panthers still remain committed to Darnold as their highest-paid player in 2022. A team that should be retooling is instead refooling themselves. Getting a team into this situation is how people get fired.
12. Arizona Cardinals
Spending rank: 23
Draft rank: 7
Bottom line: The video game has been set to All-Madden
The Cardinals’ team-building strategy reeks of desperation. They traded their first-round pick in this year’s draft to Baltimore for receiver Marquise Brown, which was a strange decision considering the Eagles paid only slightly more for a far superior receiver, A.J. Brown. And while Kyler Murray is young, Arizona also made the strange decision to surround him with old guys. They were tied for the fourth-oldest offense by snap-adjusted age last year, and still chose to re-sign 34-year-old receiver A.J. Green and 31-year-old tight end Zach Ertz.
13. Washington Commanders
Spending rank: 11
Draft rank: 16
Bottom line: You can’t spell subpoena without subpar
Washington is stuck with the worst owner in the NFL. They traded two third-round picks (one of which is conditional and might become a second-rounder) for Carson Wentz, who was all but chased out of his last two cities with torches and pitchforks. The only reason you can’t say this franchise is rudderless is because Dan Snyder is hiding on his superyacht, which presumably has rudders.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
Spending rank: 24
Draft rank: 12
Bottom line: The tortoise racing all the hares
If the Rams are the extreme team in this All In exercise for trading seven consecutive first-rounders, the Steelers are Steady Eddie. Pittsburgh has gone without a first-round pick in a draft just once in the last 50 years. Pittsburgh’s latest first-rounder is Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett. As soon as Pickett can beat out Mitchell Trubisky (and Mason Rudolph, lol), he will lead the team into a new era. But in Pittsburgh, eras last epochs. They’ve had three head coaches since Richard Nixon was president. They just hired their second general manager of the 21st century. If the Catholic Church thinks in centuries, the Steelers think in decades. Pittsburgh is always competitive—Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season in 15 years as a head coach. But you don’t get that kind of consistency by dipping into the future.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Spending rank: 18
Draft rank: 17
Bottom line: Running out of rocks to turn over for a QB
Indy pulled off the bait-and-switch by somehow acquiring Matt Ryan from Atlanta for less draft capital than it received from Washington for Carson Wentz. Colts GM Chris Ballard has been as patient and diligent as any GM in the NFL, refusing to engage with the aggressive salary cap and draft pick trades of his peers like a college senior who goes to parties but has the self-control to not drink or smoke anything. In exchange for that patience, the Colts’ ranking is almost perfectly average. The Colts have been a quarterback away from contending ever since Andrew Luck retired just before the start of the 2019 season, but they haven’t been able to find the right guy. Maybe after four years of this quarterback carousel, the Colts are going to wonder if they wasted what was supposed to be the best years of their lives.
16. Cincinnati Bengals
Spending rank: 26
Draft rank: 11
Bottom line: Not going all in on pocket aces
Here’s the thing about maxing out a salary cap: It takes an owner willing and liquid enough to spend cash up front. Bengals owner Mike Brown is not that guy. And subsequently, the Bengals are committing a football tragedy. To paraphrase my colleague Ben Solak, the Bengals were dealt two pocket aces by drafting QB Joe Burrow and WR Ja’Marr Chase. If there’s a time to go all in, it’s with these two guys. Burrow and Chase’s combined cap hit this year is $17 million. When they each sign contract extensions, that combined number could be $77 million. The Bengals should be using this discount to subsidize other positions and load up for another Super Bowl run. Instead, they rebuilt their offensive line and ... stopped there. The Chargers, who are in the same boat with Justin Herbert as the Bengals are with Joe Burrow, have poured almost $60 million more into this year’s team than Cincy has. If the Bengals fall short, they’ll have to wonder what could have happened if they’d been more aggressive.
17. Minnesota Vikings
Spending rank: 15
Draft rank: 19
Bottom line: An average team with an average quarterback
How fitting that the team with Kirk Cousins registers a 101 on the All In-dex—exactly one point above average. Minnesota is in transition after the long tenure of former coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman, and new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has committed to Cousins for only two more seasons. Minnesota is flexible enough to go in whatever direction it wants.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Spending rank: 19
Draft rank: 18
Bottom line: Jerry Jones is gonna Jerry Jones
Dallas’s season ended when it was unable to stop the clock with 14 seconds left. Its offseason began by dumping Amari Cooper to save $16 million. If the 14-seconds figure haunted the Dallas offseason, Cooper’s $16 million might haunt the regular season. It looks terrible for Dallas to ditch Cooper, considering lesser players like Christian Kirk got more money, and now Dallas desperately needs a receiver. But the Cowboys also cut starting right tackle La’el Collins to save $10 million. Ultimately, these are moves the Cowboys made because they committed big money to running back Ezekiel Elliott, whom fans want benched anyway. While the division-rival Eagles and Giants got better this offseason, the Cowboys got worse.
19. Tennessee Titans
Spending rank: 13
Draft rank: 21
Bottom line: Caught in no-man’s-land between contention and a rebuild
The Titans traded away star receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles for a first-rounder during the draft while also leaving the door open to cut Ryan Tannehill next year. Together, those moves clearly suggest the Titans are taking a step back from Super Bowl contention to retool. The Titans have defied everyone’s expectations ever since Tannehill took over in 2019, but the sun may be setting on Derrick Henry’s empire. Relying on a 28-year-old running back to continue to carry a historic workload will work for only so long.
20. Green Bay Packers
Spending rank: 10
Draft rank: 22
Bottom line: Resetting after their All In bid failed
The Packers already went All In for the previous three seasons, but after three horrific, gut-punch playoff losses, the Packers are resetting. They traded Davante Adams to the Raiders for first- and second-round picks, and are letting their salary cap lie fallow for a year. Aaron Rodgers re-signed with a gargantuan contract paying him $50 million a year for the next three seasons, but without Adams, the Packers now have to figure out how to do more with less. Spoiler: People usually do less with less.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Spending rank: 17
Draft rank: 23
Bottom line: The Eagles are sitting on quite the nest egg
If Jalen Hurts does not turn out to be Philly’s QB of the future, no team is in a stronger position to attract a top quarterback. Just like Tom Brady was attracted to the Bucs, Matthew Stafford sought to go to the Rams, and Russell Wilson waived his no-trade clause to go to Denver, the next disgruntled star QB should be attracted to the Eagles, who have positioned themselves as a top-tier destination like a bird building a beautiful nest to attract a mate. They traded a first-round pick for WR A.J. Brown to pair with 2020 Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, giving them a dank receiving corps and one of the NFL’s strongest offensive lines. And if no veteran quarterbacks can be found in the trade market, the Eagles have an extra first- and second-rounder from the Saints to trade up for one in the draft. And if Hurts turns out to be good, the Eagles can use those picks to round out a contender.
22. New England Patriots
Spending rank: 27
Draft rank: 20
Bottom line: Underdogs again
After Tom Brady left, New England went on a spending spree like a guy who gets dumped and immediately buys a new wardrobe. The Patriots rebounded and drafted Mac Jones in 2021, though all the players the Patriots added are curious fits in their closet. (For what occasion do you need Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor? But who are we to judge Bill Belichick on his fashion choices.)
But the biggest risk the Patriots are taking isn’t with their players—it’s with their coaches. The Patriots are letting Matt Patricia and Joe Judge co-run their offense after each flamed out as head coaches. Why is Belichick not naming either as offensive coordinator? A theory floated by Patriots beat writer Tom Curran: With both the Giants and Lions still owing Judge and Patricia the buyout money for their respective head coaching contracts, withholding a coordinator title might allow both coaches to collect paychecks from their old teams while working for the Patriots virtually for free.
But more important than a discounted offensive coordinator, Belichick is likely trying to give Jones the defensive-centric education early in his career that Belichick gave to Brady. If Patricia does turn out to be a quarterback guru, we’ll owe everyone involved an apology.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars
Spending rank: 6
Draft rank: 26
Bottom line: Paying top dollar to try for eight wins
The Jaguars rank sixth in spending but 26th in draft capital, a disparity that comes when the team with the first overall pick in the draft spends the most guaranteed money ever in a single offseason ($175 million). The Jags are paying a premium price for competency. They gave middling receiver Christian Kirk so much money that a half dozen other NFL receivers like Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill immediately demanded a raise.
In the short term, the Jags are sure to be better with their free agent upgrades at WR, TE, OL, and the defensive front seven. They probably won’t have the no. 1 pick for the third year in a row. It also helps that the team hired functioning adult Doug Pederson to replace head coach Urban Meyer, who allegedly kicked his kicker and said, “Dipshit, make your fucking kicks.”
But in the long term, these kinds of spending sprees rarely look wise a year or two out. The best the Jags can hope for is that Trevor Lawrence looks good around a competent team with competent coaching.
24. Kansas City Chiefs
Spending rank: 25
Draft rank: 20
Bottom line: Taking their foot off the gas just as their division rivals are speeding up
The Chiefs have won the AFC West for six years in a row, and all of their division rivals are adding players to compete with Kansas City. The Broncos traded for Russell Wilson, the Raiders traded for Davante Adams, and the Chargers traded for Khalil Mack. Amid this arms race, the Chiefs traded away receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins for draft picks, essentially choosing to extend their Super Bowl window with Patrick Mahomes rather than maximize their chances in 2022. With Hill gone, the Chiefs offense is going to have to revolve back to Andy Reid’s more compact roots. Kansas City has invested heavily in its offensive line to protect Mahomes and create a more physical offense. If the Chiefs fail to defend the division title this year, they might regret taking their foot off the gas by dealing Hill. But if they win the AFC West without him, they’ll prove they don’t need Hill’s speed to stay a step ahead of their competition.
25. New York Jets
Spending rank: 9
Draft rank: 28
Bottom line: Spent big money on offense but their QB is already hurt
The Jets need to see if Zach Wilson is good. That was difficult last year with a turnstile offensive line, no true no. 1 WR, and the weakest tight end group in the NFL, not to mention the league’s worst defense. So the Jets went out and splurged. They signed Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah at tight end, Laken Tomlinson at guard, and Duane Brown at left tackle and spent the no. 10 pick in the draft on Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson (not to mention two other first-round picks on defense). And just as Wilson has all the weapons he could ask for, he injured his knee in the preseason (the same knee he injured 10 months ago). Adding injury to injury, New York’s 2020 first-round tackle Mekhi Becton might already be out for the season with a kneecap fracture.
The entire 2022 Jets season is supposed to be about getting a serious evaluation of Wilson. Now they might struggle to do that.
26. Chicago Bears
Spending rank: 32
Draft rank: 15
Bottom line: Throwing the baby out with the bathwater
No team is spending less on its roster than the Chicago Bears. They are last or near dead last in just about every spending category for 2022 and 2023. This is a tragedy for the development of QB Justin Fields, the team’s first-round pick in 2021. Chicago has perhaps the league’s worst offensive line and the worst receiving group. Meanwhile, teams who drafted a first-round QB in 2020 or 2021 are investing money and picks in blockers and pass catchers to help their young QB. Those teams are trying to either contend (Chargers, Bengals, 49ers) or see if their guy is a true franchise QB (Dolphins, Jaguars, Jets, Patriots). But the Bears seem to be choosing to wipe their slate clean while Fields is still developing. If Fields were to drag this team to mediocrity, it would feel Herculean.
27. Baltimore Ravens
Spending rank: 25
Draft rank: 27
Bottom line: Awaiting a Lamar deal
The Ravens will likely shoot up this list if they sign QB Lamar Jackson to a contract extension before the season begins, but Baltimore is still the rare mix of a present-day contender building for the future. Like the Packers and Chiefs, the Ravens got a first-rounder for their top receiver (Marquise Brown). Unlike the Packers and Chiefs, they didn’t give up an elite NFL receiver. GM Eric DeCosta sent the pick they received from Arizona to Buffalo, and took Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum with the pick from the Bills. Linderbaum might end as Baltimore’s center for the next decade. The Ravens invest in the draft for renewed success as well as any team in the NFL. Of all the teams in the bottom quartile of the All In-dex, the Ravens have the best chance to be a serious Super Bowl contender.
28. Atlanta Falcons
Spending rank: 31
Draft rank: 24
Bottom line: Using a quarter of their budget to get rid of their two most famous active players
The Falcons being ranked 28th is not an elaborate 28-3 joke (we swear). Losing that Super Bowl to the Patriots may have been hell, but now the Falcons are in financial purgatory. Over the last two years, the Falcons traded away the defining players of their decade, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. But those trades cost them an unholy amount of dead money. The Falcons are allocating $55 million, or more than a quarter of their 2022 budget, for Ryan and Jones to not play for them (in fact, Jones is playing for the division-rival Buccaneers). Instead of trying to swim up the income stream, the Falcons settled for signing Marcus Mariota to backup QB money and drafting third-rounder Desmond Ridder at QB. It’s the NFL equivalent of taking a gap year. They can apply to compete in the NFL again in 2023.
29. Detroit Lions
Spending rank: 22
Draft rank: 29
Bottom line: A young, talented team with the resources to get better
This is an excellent spot to be for a Lions team that has so much young talent. Detroit has one of the best offensive lines in the league and a deceptively talented skill group with receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, tight end T.J. Hockenson, and running back Jamaal Williams, plus rookie receiver Jameson WIlliams from Alabama. The Lions are also still due to get the Rams’ first-round pick in next year’s draft from the Stafford trade. Not many teams have a franchise tackle (Penei Sewell) and defensive end (Aidan Hutchinson) on rookie deals at the same time. If the Lions want to make an aggressive push for a QB next season, they could easily move on from Jared Goff after this season and try to compete in the NFC.
30. Seattle Seahawks
Spending rank: 28
Draft rank: 31
Bottom line: Chose the league’s oldest coach over Russell Wilson
In 2020 the Seahawks traded two first-round picks for Jets safety Jamal Adams. This year, the Seahawks got slightly more in return for trading away Russell Wilson. Now they must compete in the NFC West—where all three division rivals made the playoffs last season and the Rams won the Super Bowl—with Geno Smith or Drew Lock at QB. This strategy will be the stress test for head coach Pete Carroll’s preferred football philosophy of ball control and conservative offense that soured Wilson on the team. Carroll is the oldest head coach in the NFL and has a book called Win Forever. Seattle isn’t going to attempt a rebuild as long as he is in town.
31. New York Giants
Spending rank: 29
Draft rank: 30
Bottom line: Hit rock bottom so hard they bounced and are now trending up
Last season the Giants were outscored 79-0 in the final two minutes of the first half. They scored 40 fewer touchdowns than the division-rival Cowboys. In the last week of the season, the Giants called a QB sneak on third-and-9. They hit rock bottom in their nearly 100-year history so hard that they broke through the bedrock and emerged on the other side into daylight.
The team fired Joe Judge and allowed GM Dave Gettleman to retire and declined the fifth-year option for QB Daniel Jones. In their place, the team hired the Buffalo Bills brain trust of Brian Daboll, to be head coach, and Joe Schoen, to be GM. In the draft, the Giants got Alabama tackle Evan Neal and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux with their two picks in the top seven. The team that was so recently a league laughingstock now looks like a competent rebuild. Now the Giants need to figure out whether Jones will be their long-term QB or if they’ll be looking to replace him next offseason. Either way, they’ll have a clear direction for their franchise, which is the best that fans could have hoped for at the end of 2021.
32. Houston Texans
Spending rank: 30
Draft rank: 32
Bottom line: All Out
No team is betting less on 2022 than the Houston Texans. The Texans are so devoid of young talent that they are throwing one-year veteran contracts at the wall and just seeing what sticks. With two additional future first-round picks remaining from the Deshaun Watson trade, it’s clear that GM Nick Caserio has a long road to make this a competitive team. If the Rams are All In, the Texans are All Out.