(wgrz.com) A list of NFL teams' total payrolls for 2009 in USA Today (Gannett) holds more than a few surprises, and topping all of them, is the fact the Buffalo Bills were #12 on the list of 32 teams. According to the published report, the Bills spent $111,956,066 on player salaries last season.
While the fact the NY Giants top the list with a payroll of $137,638,866 is not a surprise, it is surprising to see the Bills listed ahead of teams like the Washington Redskins (17th - $105,049,071), Indianapolis Colts ($101m), New England Patriots ($97.5m) and Dallas Cowboys ($90.6m).
At the bottom of the heap, and this is certainly no shock, are the St. Louis Rams, who spent just over $62 million on player salaries in 2009.
Obviously, there are aspects of these figures that won't show some of the legal financial manipulations of the NFL salary cap rules - signing bonuses, etc. - but they also show the Bills are far from the bottom of the pile in terms of salary spending or revenue, despite being one of the smallest markets in the NFL.
Forbes Magazine ranked the teams after the 2007 season, and the Bills were tied for 22nd in revenue with $206 million, and 27th in franchise value at $885 million. Here's where the figures show just how strong financially 3 of the teams that ranked below the Bills in 2009 salaries actually are. The Redskins led the league with $327 million in revenue, followed by New England at $282m and Dallas at $269m.
Other figures that either aren't available yet or can't really be compared, are just how much teams have spent, or are spending on new stadiums.
This is where the future of the Bills becomes unclear, because Ralph Wilson Stadium, even with its $65 million facelift and many improvements in 1999 and later, is now one of the NFL's oldest facilities. The stadium was originally built for $22 million in 1973, and there are no current plans for a new stadium.
Optimists can look north to nearby Toronto, which can and will enhance the Bills bottom line with one or maybe two (in the future) home games at the Rogers Centre. The optimism would stem from the fact the Rogers Centre, for many reasons including seating capacity, is not even close to being a suitable home for an NFL team.