BY Art Thiel 03:32PM 04/15/2014

Team salary report: Seahawks 116th in the world

A compilation of salaries around the globe shows the Seahawks’ average player’s salary of $2.3 million was relatively modest. It’s not as if the Super Bowl was, say, cricket in India.

Considering the global sports world, the Seahawks’ cost to win the Super Bowl was relatively light. / Corky Trewin, Seattle Seahawks

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 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:

The top 25 paid athletes in the world:

How the data was compiled:


  • jafabian

    Good for the Hawks. Big spending doesn’t always translate into becoming a big winner. And they’re certainly getting value for the dollar right now.

    • LennyLuvsLonnie

      Given the youth of their roster, it’s actually surprising to see how much the Hawks are spending on payroll–more than 30 other NFL teams. From a purely business standpoint, anything less than a Super Bowl appearance would be a disappointment.

      True, they’re paying far less than Manchester United, but not competing against them either. (Wouldn’t that be a compelling match-up though?)

  • LennyLuvsLonnie

    Focusing on average per-player pay, as opposed to total team payroll, provides a slightly misleading picture. NFL teams are significantly bigger than MLB teams, for example, and total payroll–the biggest recurring expense in pro sports–reflects that.

    As you point out here, “The Seahawks paid $122 million in salaries. The Mariners meanwhile, using 2014 payroll figures, are paying nearly $90 million.”

    Still, given the difference in roster size, you’d expect the Seahawks to be paying closer to $180 million. So it’s true that the NFL’s more constraining union contract has brought costs down.

    Brings to mind a big question: How much would your average NBA game improve without guaranteed contracts? With all the guys currently phoning it in out there, probably a lot.

    • RadioGuy

      Not to mention entire teams like the Philadelphia 76ers tanking games for more balls in the June lottery. Have to admit I haven’t watched an NBA game on TV this season and only caught the Finals last year. It’s not just the Sonics moving to OKC…I was losing interest in watching the overall product while they were still here. None of us really needs the NBA to enjoy basketball if we’re true fans of the sport.

  • Bayview Herb

    One has to compare 162 game seasons for baseball an 16 games football seasons. With only 16 games the ticket income is not a place one can conjure up comparable income.