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Sports Salary Survey Showcases Smart Spending

ESPN and Sportingintelligence released their annual salary survey of international professional sports teams just a couple of days ago. The Ravens ended up about right in the middle of all teams, and are roughly the median of the NFL teams too.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

You don't have to spend to succeed. That sure seems to have been the unofficial motto of the Ravens front office these past few years. Led by GM Ozzie Newsome and Assistant GM Eric DeCosta, the Ravens front office has practiced smart, patient spending, and growing its own crop of talent. The Ravens aren't known for big signings, but rather waiting it out and taking what's given to them. This strategy has paid off, as the Ravens are one of the most successful teams in recent NFL history, all while maintaining generous cap space.

In this week's survey, the annual ESPN/SportingIntelligence Global Salary Survey. The Ravens came in at 158th of 333 international sports teams. This ranking was six spots below last year.

All NFL teams ended up clumped between Nos. 124 and 176 for average per-player salary, with the Miami Dolphins being the biggest spenders at $2.3 million, and the New York Jets the 'cheapskates' at $1.7 million. The Ravens ended up at $2 million, about the median for NFL spending. The Ravens ranked 21st among all NFL teams and spent the least among their AFC North rivals, who finished at Nos. 126, (Bengals) 138, (Steelers) and 142 (Browns).

In terms of total payroll, NFL teams obviously ranked higher, ranging from Nos. 20 - 73. The Ravens total player payroll of $108.6 million ranks 50th. Divisional rivals were ranked Nos. 21, (Bengals) 33, (Steelers) and 39. (Browns)., Ravens fans likely remember free agent signings like Elvis Dumervil, Justin Forsett and Steve Smith as being the players that come to the Ravens for pennies on the dollar and end up churning out huge production. A part of it clearly has to do with players wanting to come to a winning organization and the rest goes right to general manager Ozzie Newsome for knowing what a player is truly worth.

Hats off to the 'Wizard of Oz' and his future successor Eric DeCosta, for once again showing that you don't need to spend to win. Smart spending, and good home-grown talent are the keys to success in this league.