March 19, 2020

NFL Teams See Varying Results on Success of Free Agent Spending

SBJ Atlas

With the start of the ’20 NFL season here, the free agency window is open. Some teams historically have spent heavily on unrestricted free agents (UFAs), while others have chosen to proceed conservatively when signing players.    

Using free agency data from Spotrac along with win/loss data for each team, spending money on UFAs does not necessarily add up to winning on Sundays. In ’17-19, the Saints spent $478.2M on UFAs and won 37 regular-season games – the league high during this span. The Colts shelled out $457.9M on 41 UFAs, amounting to 21 wins or an average of $9.7M spent on UFAs per win. The Jets broke the bank with $29.9M expended per UFA for each of their 16 wins, which was $6M more per UFA than the next closest team.

On the other extreme, the Patriots’ approach to free agency paid off with $157.1M spent from ’17-19 amounting to 36 wins. The Broncos, while going through somewhat of a rebuild, only spent $85M on UFAs through the past three seasons on their way to 18 wins. They paid $14.1M per UFA for each win.

NOTE: Money NFL teams spent on UFAs from ’17-19 as well as their win total during that span.