The Seahawks’ average player salary last season was the second highest in the NFL at $2.3 million, but in comprehensive research done by ESPN The Magazine, the champs ranked only 116th in the world among pro sports teams — or 43 spots behind MLB’s Mariners.
The data was compiled by SportingIntelligence.com and considered 294 teams in 15 leagues, including cricket in India. The 8,663 athletes surveyed made $16.15 billion in combined salaries.
At $8.1 million per player, the biggest spending team was English Premier League powerhouse Manchester City at $8.1 million, followed by MLB’s New York Yankees ($8M) and Los Angeles Dodgers ($7.8M), then Spanish clubs Real Madrid ($7.6M) and Barcelona ($7.5M).
While the Seahawks in the NFL were outspent in average salary only by the Minnesota Vikings, the Super Bowl winner ranked behind 28 MLB teams, 13 EPL teams and all 30 NBA teams. That is testament to how much control NFL owners have over the players union, especially compared to MLB and NBA.
The NFL has a hard salary cap and few contracts guaranteed beyond a year. MLB and NBA have big guarantees and soft caps, which do not prevent owners from spending beyond prescribed limits, after which they must pay luxury taxes.
The Seahawks paid $122 million in salaries. The Mariners meanwhile, using 2014 payroll figures, are paying nearly $90 million, with an average of $3.1 million, which ranked 73rd.
As the Seahawks attempt to rebuild a roster for 2014 in anticipation of a huge contract for QB Russell Wilson by 2015, it’s noteworthy that in another listing, five of the world’s top 10 highest-paid athletes are NFL quarterbacks: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ($40M), Detroit’s Matthew Stafford ($31.5M), New England’s Tom Brady ($31 M), Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan ($30M each).
That helps explain why the Seahawks are reticent to tie up more money to outside veterans in free agency.
The only Seattle athlete in the top 25 was the Mariners’ Robinson Cano, tied for 20th with Texas’s Prince Fielder at $24M.
The MLS Sounders are 230th with an average salary of $377,000 and a total payroll of $10.8M, third behind Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls.
The list of the Top 100 paying teams can be viewed here: http://es.pn/1etUq
The top 25 paid athletes in the world: http://es.pn/1n8Tp3x
How the data was compiled: http://es.pn/Q9GPDf.