Rams left tackle Jake Long tore his ACL this past Saturday, an injury that should send him to the IR and end his season. This will mark the 4th time in four seasons that Long has finished the year on the injured list and he will add to the massive salary total that sits on the Rams injured list.
If Long will want to play football next season he will likely need to discuss his contract with the Rams. The Rams designed a creative contract with Long that was somewhat back loaded in value and gave them yearly outs in the event the often injured tackle continued to be hurt.
Long is owed $9.25 million in salary in 2015 and has a $10.5 million salary cap number. If Long is on the Rams roster a few days into the 2015 League Year, $4 million of that figure will become guaranteed, forcing a decision sometime in early March on his future. Releasing Long will save the Rams $8 million in cap room, so the Rams would certainly have every financial incentive to move on.
The sides could also agree to restructure a contract that pays Long his guaranteed number he wanted ($4 million) and nothing else. That would have the sides meeting somewhere in the middle in terms of cash/cap savings while also giving Long one more opportunity to play in the NFL.
The Rams will likely have a number of offseason roster decisions to make. Even with the injuries they have to be disappointed with their current 2-5 record and it may be hard to justify coming back with the same veterans on the roster in 2015.
In addition to Long the Rams will have to make a decision on the future of quarterback Sam Bradford, who will count for over $16.5 million in cap charges. Releasing Bradford avoids sinking another $13 million into the quarterback in both cap space and actual cash commitments. Kendall Langford carries a $7 million salary cap charge and would open up $6 million in cap room if cut. The team could also look to try to do something with the contract of Jared Cook.
My current estimates for the Rams have them with about $13 million in cap room in 2015, assuming a $3 million credit for Cortland Finnegan and a $140 million salary cap. That would be around the top of the bottom third of the NFL. Making a few of the above moves would move them into the top 10 best cap positions in 2015 and likely near the top 5.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.