Researcher examines NFL pay in relation to team performance

Researcher examines NFL pay in relation to team performance


As the National Football League begins its 98th season, the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program will examine players’ salaries.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Michael Roach, an associate professor of economics, will air from 9:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, and from 6 to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and

Roach’s research indicates that offensive linemen and starting quarterbacks in the NFL are underpaid relative to their impact on team performance, in spite of the fact that they are highly compensated: the base pay for an NFL rookie player is $465,000.

“When you lose $1 million worth of your offensive talent, your team performance drops more than when you lose $1 million of your defensive talent,” Roach said. “The drop-off between starter and backup on offense tends to be more precipitous, or at least at those positions, than it would be on defense.”

Using a variable Roach calls the “capout rate,” he defines the market value of talent that does not participate in a team’s games over the course of a year. It takes into consideration the league’s salary cap, which is the limit a team may spend on players’ salaries.

Roach says teams can use the capout rate to adjust salary resources to maximize labor effectiveness. His statistics are based on individual player salary data from the 2000-2009 seasons.

His report, titled “Testing Labor Market Efficiency across Position Groups in the NFL,” was published April 18, 2017, in the Journal of Sports Economics.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to


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