NFL teams spend the most on quarterbacks, even though they only have a few on their roster. Cornerbacks and wide receivers account for the second and third most cash spent for the average team. The fewest dollars are spend on special teams players (long snappers, kickers and punters) and fullbacks. Overall they spend slightly more on offensive than on defensive players. The data, compiled by Sportrac, is summarized in the Marimekko chart below:
The hardest part of building this chart was figuring our what data to use. Sportrac has 9 types of spending data by position. You can look at starters, active roster or full roster and cash, cap or average annual value. Also, the number of players in each position vary. Teams typically carry more cornerbacks and wide receivers than quarterbacks and average less than one fullback. Also, the number of players in each position varies from team to team.
To better understand spending by position, I would need to make several charts. The Marimekko captures overall spending at a team level. Two bar charts could be added to show average salary by position and starter salary by position for the average NFL team. These charts control for number of players in each position and add to the overall spending picture. I could also do this analysis by team. Do the top teams spend on different types of players? My quick look at spending across teams indicated that many teams had one outlying, high salaried starter at a position (e.g., a star center or cornerback).
To make this chart, I started with a basic Marimekko chart and made just a few tweaks. I removed the axis lines, tick marks and borders to give the chart a cleaner look. I annotated the fullback label and rotated the three lables in the special teams bar. I adjusted margins to make them narrower as I did not have any axis titles, legends, data rows or data columns. I also scaled the data. It was copied from Sportrac in dollars and I changed it to millions of dollars, added the dollar sign formatting and the M units.
Here is the chart in SlideShare to download and edit using Mekko Graphics: