Dead money in the NFC North

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Those of you with ESPN Insider subscriptions can view this comprehensive Football Outsiders analysis of the NFC North's salary cap situations.

Individual cap numbers have grown less significant to the general public in recent years as the salary cap ceiling has grown exponentially. Most NFL teams can fit every player they want under their cap limit. Some have resorted to artificially inflating cap numbers to consume excess space, a polar reversal from the frenzied cap years of the late 1990's -- when teams were forced to release players or renegotiate their contracts in order to make the cap work.

With all that said, I thought I'd give you a snippet of FO's analysis. You might have heard of the term "dead money." It refers to the amount of cap space devoted to players who no longer are on the roster. Some degree is unavoidable, as teams release players all the time when they are in the midst of multi-year contracts. The player no longer receives the cash, but by NFL rule he still counts partially against the team's cap allotment.

Careful planning and reasonable contracts can limit dead money, leaving more cap space to use for players who are on the roster. Below, you'll see the player on each NFC North team that consumes the most amount of "dead money." This year, Minnesota has done the best job of limiting its excesses. Here you go:

Chicago Bears

Tailback Cedric Benson ($2.509 million)

Detroit Lions

Defensive tackle Cory Redding ($7.333 million)

Green Bay Packers

Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila ($1.571 million)

Minnesota Vikings

Tailback Maurice Hicks ($300,000)