Take a look at the NFL standings. What do you see?
The Dolphins are winning without Dan Marino? Right, but look again.
St. Louis really isn't the greatest offense in the history of professional football? Yeah, but look harder.
What should be most apparent is that there is absolutely no correlation between high payrolls and winning. Yeah, look again.
The Washington Redskins have a $100 million payroll and they're in danger of missing the playoffs. In fact, if the season ended today, the Redskins would be out.
Remember the Cowboys and 49ers? They were the class of the league in the salary cap start-up years; wrote a lot of checks they didn't think would be cashed. Now, they're each 4-8 and their futures are equally dim.
Cleveland spent a ton of money on 49er re-treads in the Browns' inaugural season. They were going to make a big splash. Now, in year two, they are drowning with a 3-10 record.
Then there are the Jaguars and Panthers, 1995 expansion brethren. They spent a lot, too, and made it to their respective conference title games in their second seasons, and the Jaguars did it again last season, but they're each 5-7 now. In the Jaguars' case, rebuilding begins as soon as this season ends, and the Jaguars are unlikely to make the same high-spending mistake again.
Now let's look at the winners:
Minnesota lost in free agency quarterbacks Jeff George and Randall Cunningham, and two Pro-Bowl offensive linemen, and the Vikings have the best record in the NFC.
The New York Jets refused to cave in to Keyshawn Johnson's contract demands, yet the Jets are bound for the playoffs.
New Orleans has one of the most affordable rosters in the league, yet the Saints are tied with the "greatest offense in the history of professional football" for first place in the NFC West.
Miami replaced Marino with Jay Fiedler, who the Dolphins signed to a bargain-basement one-year deal, and the Dolphins are atop the AFC East.
The moral of this story is that it's becoming increasingly clear you can not buy victories in the NFL. Those days are over. In fact, too much spending will only ensure a team of prolonged losing.