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February 03, 2023

Eagles, Chiefs have near identically constructed rosters

But the Eagles have spent their money a lot differently than Kansas City has.

Eagles NFL
040422HowieRoseman Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Howie Roseman

Over the past half-century in the NFL, there have been dozens of different kinds of teams that have won Super Bowl titles.

Some have been powered by elite quarterback play, while others have boasted stellar defense. Some have had cheap QB play from a signal-caller on a rookie contract while others have won titles thanks to a backup. Teams have won it all by being a run-first team or by airing it out.

And while the style of play might be the easiest to size up, roster construction and front-office philosophy obviously play a big role in getting a team to the promised land.

Drafts, free agency and trades are the three main methods of acquiring players and the best GMs in the business are able to lean on a little of all three to create a contender.

In Super Bowl LVII, the Eagles and Chiefs will play different styles of football with shockingly similar rosters. However, the way they pay the talent on their respective teams is anything but the same.

Player acquisition

Using each team's current active rosters (and excluding players on IR), the breakdown between homegrown players, traded mercenaries and free agent signees is extremely close between the AFC and NFC champions:

Free agents1516

It's not surprising that Eagles GM Howie Roseman has more players acquired via trade — just this season A.J. Brown and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson were key pickups via that medium. The Eagles have 31 homegrown players on the Super Bowl roster while Kansas City has 33. Both clubs have made just about the same number of free-agent signings.

Top of the draft

It might surprise you to know that the Chiefs — the closest NFL team we have right now to a dynasty — have just three first-round picks on the roster (if you included Clyde Edwards-Helaire on IR it would be four, Eagles DE Derek Barnett is a first-round pick on injured reserve as well).

Here's how many first- and second-round picks each team includes:

1st round83
2nd round812

That is a lot of second-round talent, and the teams even out if you combine players on either team picked in the top 64.

Age is just a number...

The Eagles have an average age of 26.3, while the Chiefs are four months younger on average, at 26.0. Philly actually does not have more players over the age of 30 than KC — both have exactly nine players 30 or older. Backup QB Chad Henne is the oldest player on Kansas City at 37, while punter Brett Kern, at 36, is the oldest for Philadelphia. Jason Kelce and Ndamukong Suh are both 35.

Spending the big bucks

A lot of the analysis above points to two very similar teams, but when you start looking at the allocation of funds you get a picture of two very different football teams in two very different places. With Jalen Hurts still on his rookie deal, counting for less than $5 million against the cap, the Philly roster is a lot deeper (as we broke down earlier this week).

Patrick Mahomes hits the Chiefs' wallets with a $46.7 million cap hit. Their team has also spent big on Frank Clark ($28.7m), Chris Jones ($28.3m) and Joe Thuney ($22.1m). It's actually impressive that the Chiefs are a Super Bowl competitor, allocating almost $126 million in cap hits to just four players. That amount accounts for 60% of their entire salary cap.

By contrast, the Eagles have only two players with a cap hit north of $20 million, Darius Slay ($26.1m) and Lane Johnson ($24.1m). The rest of the team is comprised of contracts much cheaper to the bottom line. It is well known that Roseman is known more for his cap genius than his ability to draft, and you can see it when you look at all the Pro Bowl talent he's got.

Here's how the two teams compare overall with regard to cap spending (numbers courtesy of

Cap liabilities$229m$210m
Top 51$198m$210m
Cap space$4.2m$14m
Special teams$8m$6m

The major difference here is that the Eagles' liabilities are higher. Philly has been bold with dead money and has over $28 million of it this season (Fletcher Cox, Brandon Brooks, Jalen Reagor, Anthony Harris, Davion Taylor). The Chiefs have under $100,000 in dead money even after trading away Tyreek Hill.


The Eagles' window is probably pretty long, in theory, because Jalen Hurts is just 24 and will be cheap again in 2024. A lot of their best players like Brown, Jordan Mailata and Josh Sweat are also young and under contract for a while. But Hurts will be in Mahomes territory soon, which will have a trickle-down effect on the roster and could make them more Chiefs-like in the future.

Mahomes will win his second MVP trophy this season and the Chiefs are essentially successful because of him, Travis Kelce, Andy Reid and good players in the trenches. 

The Eagles have very few areas that are not strengths (besides maybe special teams). Roseman has the Birds sitting on two first-rounders, including one in the top 10 this coming April with another second-rounder coming from the Saints in 2024. 

There is no correct way to put a team together. It really comes down to the players playing well, and both teams have done the job on the field this season. But the front offices of Roseman and Brett Veach deserve acknowledgment as we approach kickoff in Arizona next week.

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