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How “All In” Is Each NFL Team for 2023?

Some NFL teams are spending all their cash and trading away future draft picks to try to win now. A few seem to already be looking ahead to 2024. The Ringer’s All In-dex is back, and with a new no. 1 team.

AP Images/Ringer illustration

How much are teams borrowing from tomorrow to win today? That was the driving question we wanted to answer when we at The Ringer created the All In-dex last year. After watching the Los Angeles Rams trade seven consecutive first-round picks and take on future debt and salary cap pain to chase a title, we wanted to measure just how all in each NFL team was in a given season. The Rams, it seemed, had emboldened teams like the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, and Miami Dolphins to leverage their futures for the present. Would this become the new price for contending? And what would happen to the teams that over-leveraged themselves?

But a funny thing happened last season. Neither of the two teams that reached the Super Bowl were all in. The NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles were 21st in our rankings before the start of last season. The Kansas City Chiefs, even with a high-priced quarterback, were 24th. Last offseason, Kansas City traded away All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill for draft picks, clearly choosing to prioritize Patrick Mahomes’s next decade over the next season. Then the Chiefs, with a team filled with one of the most rookie-heavy rosters in the NFL, won the Super Bowl anyway. While they were planning to have their cake later, they ate it too.

Meanwhile, the three teams that ranked at the top of the All In-dex last August—the Rams, Broncos, and Browns—all missed the playoffs. The 2023 Rams in particular are the archetypes for what a team looks like after going all in. The Rams are spending 30 percent of their 2023 budget on four players who are no longer on the team (Allen Robinson II, Bobby Wagner, Jalen Ramsey, and Leonard Floyd). L.A. is dedicating more of its budget to those four former Rams than it’s spending on its entire defense this year. Like a field that has been sapped of nutrients, the Rams are being forced to let their roster lie fallow.

This is the modern NFL in a nutshell: teams in the mold of Sean McVay’s Rams and Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, who are pulling every lever to compete now at the expense of tomorrow, pitted against teams like the Chiefs and Eagles, who are trying to compete now and later. Many of the teams going all in for the 2023 season live in Mahomes’s massive shadow. Seven of the top nine teams in the 2023 All In-dex, including the top three, are in the AFC. But as these teams try to emerge from the darkness, do they risk flying too close to the sun?

There are only two ways NFL teams can improve their rosters: spending money and using draft picks. The All In-dex measures both. In short: Teams that are spending their cash and trading away picks for veterans are trying to win now. Teams that are hoarding money and trading veterans for picks are trying to build for the future. And the teams doing one but not the other can range from brilliant to borderline delusional. With the numbers as a guide, we can figure out who is who. Our All In-dex ranks teams from the no. 1 Cleveland Browns (the most all in for the 2023 season) to the no. 32 Arizona Cardinals (the most all out). By tracking how teams spend their money and their draft picks, we can show which franchises are being run with patience, prudence, or panic.

A couple of notes about the ingredients we’re cooking with. We calculate a team’s All In-dex score by equally weighing (a) how much it’s actively spending in 2023 and is scheduled to spend in salary in 2024 and 2025 (we call this the Cap Index) and (b) the value it has in draft capital (the Draft Index). When we consider how a team is paying its players, more is more. The higher a payroll, the higher a team’s All In-dex score. With the draft picks valuation, less is more. The fewer picks a team made in the 2023 draft, the higher its All In-dex Score. A couple of important caveats:

  • Being “all in” does not equal “wanting to win really badly”! This might be true in some cases, but it certainly is not for every team at the top of the All In-dex board. We are simply measuring how a team’s assets have been used on its current roster.
  • We are not measuring the specific worth of individual players drafted in 2023. For example, the Texans selected C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. with the second and third picks, respectively. Our calculations have nothing to do with those specific people or projections about how they’ll perform in 2023. Rather, our calculations are merely based on how historically valuable these high picks are.

Our salary numbers come from Over the Cap and Spotrac. We’ve also leaned heavily on the draft value trade chart created by Chase Stuart. If you want to learn more about our process, we detailed the entire methodology here last year. Let’s get to the 2023 All In-dex, starting with a new team at the top:

Browns QB Deshaun Watson
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

1. Cleveland Browns

Spending rank: 1
Draft rank: 1

The Cleveland Browns are the most all-in team for 2023. Cleveland dealt six draft picks, including three first-rounders, to Houston for Deshaun Watson in 2022, and then the Browns signed Watson to the most player-friendly deal in NFL history ($230 million fully guaranteed over five years). Watson served an 11-game suspension last season, and after he returned from a 700-plus-day layoff dating back to the 2020 season, he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league.

Of 35 quarterbacks with 200 dropbacks last year, Watson ranked 33rd in expected points added per dropback, ahead of only Joe Flacco and Baker Mayfield (the former Browns starter he was signed to replace). But the Browns are not paying Watson all that money merely to be better than last season. They are paying him to be a transformative player. They are spending $280 million on their roster in 2023, more cash than any other team in the league. They haven’t picked in the first two rounds since 2021 and won’t pick in the first again until 2025. It’s weird to say this about the Cleveland Browns, but this team is chasing a Super Bowl at all costs.

All of this puts the Browns in a precarious spot as they face down the gauntlet that is the AFC North. Ending this season without a playoff win would be an abject failure. A season without a playoff appearance would be a catastrophe.

2. Denver Broncos

Spending rank: 6
Draft rank: 3

Speaking of catastrophes, the Broncos rank second on this list for the second year in a row. Like Cleveland, the Broncos made a massive trade for a franchise quarterback who looked horrific in his first season, and the team missed the playoffs.

Denver fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett (who was hired probably in hopes of luring Aaron Rodgers to Denver and who never seemed to have a plan for Russell Wilson) and traded a second-rounder for head coach Sean Payton. (Trading away this pick has been factored into our rankings.) Denver is reportedly paying Payton north of $17 million per year to coach this team. (Coaches’ salaries are not factored into our rankings.) Payton’s first move was to spend a ton of money in free agency, signing Mike McGlinchey to play right tackle, Ben Powers to play left guard, Zach Allen to start at defensive end, Alex Singleton to play linebacker, and D.J. Jones to start at defensive tackle. All it cost was, uh, $127 million in guaranteed money to those players at signing. The Broncos essentially bought a house, quickly realized that they needed to tear down the walls and replace all the appliances, and now are just hoping that will be the end of the repairs.

3. Miami Dolphins

Spending rank: 8
Draft rank: 2

The Dolphins were the no. 1 most all-in team after the trade deadline last year. Miami has made the fewest selections in each of the past two drafts (just four picks in each of the past two years—all outside the top 50 picks). In the past 18 months, Miami has dealt a first-rounder for Broncos pass rusher Bradley Chubb, been stripped of a first-rounder as punishment for tampering with Tom Brady, and traded for former Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill and Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Miami has also made a massive investment in free agent signings like tackle Terron Armstead. The Dolphins are trying to take advantage of the window when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is on a cheap rookie contract. But they’re also trying to confirm whether he’s a guy worth giving a big second contract to. No matter what it does, Miami has traded away so many picks that it may not have the underlying roster infrastructure to support Tagovailoa once Hill slows down and receiver Jaylen Waddle needs a big payday.

4. San Francisco 49ers

Spending rank: 5
Draft rank: 4

The 49ers are in the strange spot of having just given up on Trey Lance, the former no. 3 pick in the draft, and just signed defensive end Nick Bosa to what is essentially quarterback money in the same two-week span. The Bosa logic is simple: In a league of elite quarterbacks, the next-best thing is an elite quarterback disruptor. He was worth paying.

But the 49ers rank this high not just because of their spending, but also because of the trades. Lance essentially cost the 49ers three first-rounders (the two sent to Miami so that the 49ers could move up for him, and then the 2021 Miami first-rounder they used to select him, which was, essentially, wasted). While Brock Purdy stepped in and went undefeated as the starter, that stretch also coincided with Christian McCaffrey’s arrival as the starting running back. Acquiring McCaffrey cost San Francisco second-, third-, and fourth-round picks in 2023 and a fifth-rounder in 2024. That’s seven picks—three in the first round—that a Super Bowl contender has given away. Passing on those picks might haunt the 49ers from now until their next championship. The irony is that San Francisco’s decision to trade all those picks to draft Lance was Kyle Shanahan’s attempt to do what Kansas City and Philadelphia did—set his team up for the next decade with a dynamic, physically gifted quarterback. Instead, the 49ers shortened their current window and left their future a big question mark too.

5. New Orleans Saints

Spending rank: 3
Draft rank: 10

The funniest part of doing the All In-dex is seeing where New Orleans ranks. Where did the Saints get the $60 million guaranteed they’re paying Derek Carr? Nobody knows! The Saints’ finances are like those of the crime syndicate in The Dark Knight. For all we know, they just have hundreds of millions of dollars that have been laundered through strip clubs and deposited into Swiss bank accounts.

6. Buffalo Bills

Spending rank: 2
Draft rank: 15

The Bills are a small-market team spending with the big boys, and now they need playoff success to show for it after last year’s embarrassing loss to the Bengals in the divisional round. Yet after this critical season, even more of Buffalo’s bills will come due, as quarterback Josh Allen’s cap hit will more than double next season, from under $19 million to more than $47 million in 2024.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley
Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images

7. Los Angeles Chargers

Spending rank: 4
Draft rank: 17

The Chargers are spending big money to maximize their window before quarterback Justin Herbert gets too expensive. The contract extension Herbert signed this summer comes with a cap hit of just under $9 million this year, but by 2025 that will balloon to $37 million. That essentially gives the Chargers a two-year window to surround Herbert with talent, and they’ve already started spending to do so. Their offensive line and skill player depth, long vulnerabilities for this team, are now strengths. If Chargers head coach Brandon Staley falls short of the divisional round again this year, he can’t say he didn’t have the resources.

8. Baltimore Ravens

Spending rank: 9
Draft rank: 6

9. New York Jets

Spending rank: 11
Draft rank: 5

The Jets haven’t won the Super Bowl or had a 4,000-yard passer since the first moon landing. The team surely believed trading for Aaron Rodgers would end one of those droughts this season. But now, after Rodgers’s potentially season-ending injury on Monday Night Football in Week 1, they’ve got a team built for—and, in many ways, by—Rodgers, but not the quarterback himself.

10. Dallas Cowboys

Spending rank: 12
Draft rank: 7

11. New York Giants

Spending rank: 14
Draft rank: 8

The Giants land between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in these rankings, which is pretty similar to their issues in the NFC East in real life. When we debuted the All In-dex before the 2022 season, the Giants ranked no. 31. New York has jumped all the way to no. 11 after using the franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley and signing quarterback Daniel Jones, left tackle Andrew Thomas, and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to big extensions this summer. On top of that, the Giants’ playoff run also gave them a lower draft slot in 2023 (no. 24) than in 2022 (when they picked at no. 5 and no. 7), so it was inevitable that they’d drop in the draft index, too.

The Giants skipped the rebuilding phase under head coach Brian Daboll and managed to rehabilitate the starting quarterback and fan expectations with a single playoff run. Now the hard part will be doing it again while competing with Dallas and Philly. But the fact that New York is even in the position to have big expectations is a surprise.

Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

12. Cincinnati Bengals

Spending rank: 16
Draft rank: 11

The Bengals would have been several spots lower had we published these rankings before Week 1, but they climbed after signing quarterback Joe Burrow to a five-year contract extension that includes a reported $219 million in guarantees. The Bengals managed to keep Burrow’s salary cap figure relatively low for this season and next—an important note, because after this season they’re going to have to figure out how to pay their elite receivers. Ja’Marr Chase will become eligible for an extension, while WR2 Tee Higgins is set to become a free agent. You could certainly argue that the Bengals aren’t actually doing enough financially to win now. They aren’t pushing money into the future, they haven’t traded any draft picks, and they aren’t using creative accounting to better their current team. If the Bengals come up short in 2023, we might look back on this as a missed opportunity. But if they can make another deep run this season, they’ll look smart for following the Chiefs’ and Eagles’ model.

13. Philadelphia Eagles

Spending rank: 7
Draft rank: 23

The Eagles’ and Chiefs’ nearly back-to-back spots in the All In-dex are a perfect slap in the face to the teams above them, who have sacrificed more to achieve much less. The Eagles are perfectly positioned to win now and later. In addition to their loaded roster, they have a huge collection of draft picks that can underwrite the big cost of doling out a big contract to quarterback Jalen Hurts this summer. Consider that a testament to the job by Eagles GM Howie Roseman, who managed to snag two more first-round defenders (Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith) from Georgia. The Eagles now have five starters from Georgia’s 2021 national champion defense, which was perhaps the best college football defense in a decade. That the Eagles rank 23rd in draft capital spent even though they sent a first-rounder to acquire wide receiver A.J. Brown last year is more Roseman wizardry.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

Spending rank: 18
Draft rank: 19

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

Spending rank: 13
Draft rank: 21

16. Kansas City Chiefs

Spending rank: 19
Draft rank: 13

The Chiefs tried retooling last year and instead ended up with a title. Trading Tyreek Hill for draft picks was supposed to be a short-term sacrifice with a long-term vision of making the team younger. Even though the Chiefs’ rookies played the fourth-most snaps of any team in the NFL, Kansas City walked away with a Lombardi Trophy.

I was in the locker room when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in February. I remember hearing two rookie defenders who were in disbelief that they had achieved so much so quickly. Over laughs and tears and a lot of “bro, bro, bros,” they talked about how they didn’t even understand the defense until November. They laughed about how good they’ll be when they know what they’re doing.

Good luck to the other 31 teams.

17. Minnesota Vikings

Spending rank: 21
Draft rank: 14

18. Tennessee Titans

Spending rank: 26
Draft rank: 9

Rams DT Aaron Donald
Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

19. Los Angeles Rams

Spending rank: 28
Draft rank: 12

The Rams once ranked as the no. 1 most all-in team. Now they are a grotesque and shrunken husk of themselves, like Voldemort at the train station at the end of the Harry Potter series. As we mentioned earlier, the Rams have more cap money committed to four players no longer on the roster than to their entire defense in 2023. The Rams rank 31st in the amount of money they’re spending on their active roster this season (just $145.6 million, just slightly more than last-place Tampa Bay). They drafted 14 rookies (!), and all of them made the initial 53-man roster (!!!). They seem particularly inexperienced in the defensive front seven, where they have surrounded Aaron Donald with Larrell Murchison, Jake Hummel, and Rip Wheeler (one of those is a character on Yellowstone, and you don’t even know which one).

But this is the true sign that the Rams are all out: They own a first-round pick in next year’s draft. Seems like the Rams are hoping to make the pick count and draft high enough to take a quarterback like USC’s Caleb Williams. It’s a good thing the Rams won the Super Bowl because they risked it all and are now paying the price.

20. Las Vegas Raiders

Spending rank: 15
Draft rank: 24

The Raiders were a top 10 all-in team last preseason after the Davante Adams trade, and what did that get them? Even with Adams leading the league in touchdown catches and Josh Jacobs leading the NFL in rushing, Vegas ended up 6-11.

21. Atlanta Falcons

Spending rank: 17
Draft rank: 25

22. Carolina Panthers

Spending rank: 27
Draft rank: 18

23. Washington Commanders

Spending rank: 25
Draft rank: 20

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Spending rank: 31
Draft rank: 16

The Buccaneers no longer have Tom Brady but still have six of their starting 11 defenders from their 2020 Super Bowl champion team, plus receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and left tackle Tristan Wirfs. But the Bucs rank so low in spending because they’re eating 16 percent of their salary cap on Brady. Throw in more dead money from left tackle Donovan Smith, running back Leonard Fournette, and linebacker Lavonte David, and the Bucs are committing about a third of their budget to players who are no longer on the team. Overall, the Bucs are like the Rams—they borrowed from future seasons to fund a Super Bowl run, and now those future seasons are here.

25. Seattle Seahawks

Spending rank: 10
Draft rank: 29

The Seahawks are feasting off the Russell Wilson trade. Seattle sold Wilson’s contract to the Broncos for two first-rounders, two second-rounders, and a few players, and the team ended up making the playoffs anyway, as Geno Smith straight up outplayed Wilson. The Seahawks rank 29th in the draft index because the picks they got from Denver ended up being so high (no. 9 in 2022 and no. 5 in 2023). But the Seahawks made the playoffs because of how well last year’s rookie class performed, especially first-round offensive tackle Charles Cross and fifth-round cornerback Tariq Woolen. Despite the fact that Pete Carroll is the oldest head coach in the NFL, Seattle has reinvented its roster on the fly about as quickly as possible.

26. Indianapolis Colts

Spending rank: 22
Draft rank: 26

27. Green Bay Packers

Spending rank: 20
Draft rank: 27

The Packers are doing 2008, when Aaron Rodgers’s first season as a starter laid the groundwork for the next 15 years of success, all over again. Green Bay is trotting out one of the least experienced offenses in NFL history. New starting quarterback Jordan Love has one career start. Every passer behind him on the depth chart has zero. Love will be throwing to a green group of receivers. Green Bay’s starting tight end and top six wide receivers have a combined 20 career starts.

28. New England Patriots

Spending rank: 32
Draft rank: 22

Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

29. Detroit Lions

Spending rank: 24
Draft rank: 28

The Lions are a team with win-now expectations, but they have laid the foundation for long-term success. Let’s compare, for example, the Lions and the Dolphins. Both teams have a Vegas over/under set at 9.5 wins this season. The difference is that over the past two drafts, the Dolphins have had just one pick in the first two rounds. The Lions have had seven. Sure, the easiest way to win in the NFL is to have a quarterback like Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes. But without a difference maker like that, the next best way to win in a league with a salary cap is by gathering cost-controlled players on rookie contracts who outperform their salaries. Most of the teams making the playoffs have a handful of those guys. The Lions are building their entire team with them, from right tackle Penei Sewell, to receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams, to tight end Sam LaPorta, to running back Jahmyr Gibbs, to defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. This team has the rarest of things in the NFL—a true three-year window to compete before some seriously hard financial decisions arise.

30. Houston Texans

Spending rank: 23
Draft rank: 30

The Texans received six picks from the Deshaun Watson trade last year, including three first-rounders. They’ve already started squandering their haul. With the second pick in the draft this year, Houston seemed so stuck choosing between Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. that it decided to just trade up to no. 3 and take both. It did so at a tremendous cost. In exchange for moving up just nine spots, the Texans dealt pick no. 33 plus next year’s first- and third-rounders. If the Texans finish in the league’s bottom three again and Anderson doesn’t become a star, the trade may look like a disaster.

31. Chicago Bears

Spending rank: 30
Draft rank: 31

Second-year general manager Ryan Poles now appears to be executing a vision that is specific and possibly smart: investing enough in the offense to see whether Justin Fields is a legit starter while letting the defense wither. The Bears defensive line might be the worst in the entire league. The Monsters of the Midway are just, well, mid. While actively choosing not to spend big money on the 2023 roster, the Bears have maintained their ability to build through the draft. Acquiring wide receiver D.J. Moore in their trade down from no. 1 was a savvy move (getting Chase Claypool for pick no. 32 at the deadline, less so), and they’re set up with two first-round picks next season.

32. Arizona Cardinals

Spending rank: 29
Draft rank: 32

Arizona is quiet quitting the season. With a new general manager running the Cardinals for the first time in a decade after Steve Keim’s departure, the entire team is getting a deep clean. Arizona, 12th on the inaugural All In-dex last summer, ranks 29th in our spending calculations, but the real reason Arizona ranks dead last overall is its draft capital. The Cardinals pulled a draft heist on Houston, executing a pair of trades that netted them the player they wanted anyway—Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr.—while somehow also securing them Houston’s first-rounder in 2024. Considering Arizona and Houston have the best odds to finish with the worst record in the league, there’s a decent chance the Cardinals will hold the top two picks in the 2024 draft, which includes potentially two franchise quarterbacks in USC’s Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye (though Williams may be wise enough to return to college if Arizona gets the top pick). Not since the Browns in 2018, when they picked first and fourth, have we seen a franchise hold two top-five picks in a loaded draft. The Cardinals will have options for the rebuild: They could keep quarterback Kyler Murray, draft Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., and sell the second pick for a haul of riches. The team could keep Murray and sell both picks. Or the team could trade Murray and use both picks. No matter what, no team is better positioned to start from scratch than Arizona. The only thing that could screw it up is winning.

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