The Rams and the salary survey

Coming to this week's edition of ESPN The Magazine is the annual money issue, which takes a look at how dollars are being divvied up amongst teams and athletes.

In conjunction with SportingIntelligence, the Mag surveyed the landscape of 294 professional teams covering 15 leagues from seven sports worldwide with focus on how those teams are spending money and how that money is divvied up among the players on each roster.

While the NFL is widely recognized as one of the most popular leagues in the world and the most popular league in the United States, the survey reveals that on a per-athlete basis, American pro football isn't coming anywhere close to the compensation being handed out elsewhere.

Of course, that should come as no surprise. The sheer number of players an NFL team carries on the roster is enough to move the per-player average well below other sports where rosters are more limited. Beyond that, the NFL's hard salary cap is one of the strictest in sports and contracts are not guaranteed. In other sports like baseball, where there is no cap and all money is guaranteed, or basketball where there's a soft cap and all money is guaranteed, even the lower-end players on most rosters are paid closer to what a mid-level player might make in the NFL.

This study ranks the football club Manchester City as the team offering up the most money of any professional franchise in the world with a per-player average of $8,109,912 and a total payroll of $202,747,812.

To get to the first NFL team, you have to travel pretty far down the list. The Minnesota Vikings are the first NFL team to appear on the list, checking in at No. 115 with a per player average of $2,315,053.

The St. Louis Rams make an appearance even further down the list but not that far behind the Vikings in terms of the average payout. At No. 146, the average Ram took home $2,029,308 in the 2013 season.

It should be no surprise to see NFL teams further down the list using the criteria put forth for the study. Even for teams spending all the way to the salary cap, there's only so much money that can go to 53 players on a roster. Dividing that number into the hard salary-cap number means that no matter what, the number can't exceed a certain point and won't approach the levels of spending in more free market leagues such as the EPL.

The Rams have consistently spent to the cap under owner Stan Kroenke and show no signs of changing that any time soon.