Current Estimated 2016 Cap Space: $36.7 million
Expected 2016 Cap Space: $56.0 million
Estimated Rookie Cap: $5.720 million
Players Under Contract: 54
Pro Bowlers: 3
Unrestricted Free Agents: 12(7 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 15
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
The Rams don’t have any shortage of free agents to keep this year. I would expect one of the two cornerbacks to be back next season, but it may be too expensive to keep both. It sounded as if they made more an effort to keep Jenkins last season so I’d guess he would be the preferred of the two…William Hayes played well and was a valuable replacement for injury. At 31 he should not be incredibly expensive to keep…While Rodney McLeod is not as well known as some of the other available safeties, he likely will provide more bang for the buck…Mark Barron wound up playing more linebacker than safety and likely has more value to them than most other teams….I would assume Greg Zuerlein will be offered a contract, though he did not have a good year last season.
Free Agents to Let Walk
Eugene Sims has spent his entire career with the Rams but its probably time for the Rams to look for more upside…My guess is someone will offer Nick Fairley a one year deal for more than he is worth. With Michael Brockers slary jumping I cant see the reason to keep Fairley for more than $3 million…Tim Barnes is pretty much a stop gap solution and one would think the Rams would look to find someone else next year.
Contracts to Modify
Chris Long has been a good player for the team but the last few seasons he has just been plagued with injuries. Long has a $14.25 million cap charge and $11.75 million salary. I could see working out a three year extension at a far lower figure to allow him to finish his career with the team…It might be worth extending Brockers before the season. His current salary is over $6 million which could be used as a big portion of his new guarantee package
Players to Consider Releasing
Jared Cook never grew into the role that his contract seemed to indicate the Rams expected from him. They can save $5.7 million in cap and $7 million in cash by releasing him…James Laurinaitis generally grades out poorly and they could save just under $5.8 million if they release him. I could also see an extension for him at a $5,8 million guarantee on a much lower cost deal…If Long does not accept a paycut they would save $11.75 million if they cut him.
The premise behind the Rams’ 2012 draft trade – accumulate a large quantity of relatively highly drafted players on overlapping cheap rookie contracts – was sound. Aligning assets in this manner is one way to gain a competitive advantage. If it had worked, the Rams could have been in an enviable salary cap situation, as the team would have had the opportunity to overpay free agents on front-loaded deals and/or push cap space forward throughout the duration of the rookie contracts of the core players, while signing the core players to extensions before hitting free agency (which tend to be at least somewhat below-market extensions). However, for one reason or another this strategy did not translate to many wins, and none of the players from the 2012 or 2013 drafts have received contract extensions.
The good news is that the Rams have not made much of a commitment to this seven-win team, ranking 27th in Commitment Index. The team actually has more current salary cap space than true salary cap commitments in 2017 and beyond. As a result, the Rams are in a position to spend aggressively in free agency without compromising their future salary cap situation, although doing so in conjunction with resigning some of their own impending free agents will likely cause the team to move to the top half of the league with respect to Commitment Index. The team must decide if doing so is advisable, or if it is more prudent to refrain from increasing salary cap commitments until obtaining a QB suitable for contending.
Expected Contract Outcomes – Expected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions. The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016. A pay cut is treated as a termination. We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options. Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.
|Player||Position||Expected Outcome||Expected Savings|
|Expected Change in Cap Room||+$19,263,104|
True Cap Space – Realizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms. Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.
|True Cap Space (2016)|
|Adjusted Salary Cap||$150,933,521|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||($19,798,873)|
|Realizable Cap Space||$131,134,648|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||($16,906,392)|
|Minimum Salary Cap Holds||($20,250,000)|
|True Cap Space||$93,978,256|
Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams. A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments. The Commitment Index Score of every team in the league changes to at least some degree with every transaction executed by any team in the league, so Commitment Index Score is measured as of a specific point in time (in this case, January 11, 2016).
|Commitment Index (2017+)|
|Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts||$18,295,839|
|Fully Guaranteed Salary||$9,136,257|
|Current Cap Space||($32,490,626)|
|Commitment Index Score||-29%|
|League Rank (1st = Most Committed)||27th|
Every offseason the story seems to be the same with the Rams as their lack of a quarterback and offensive talent locks them into a guaranteed 6 to 8 wins in a season. They have some devastating talent on the defensive line ad have the potential to be a great defense, but every year that offense seems to misfire. For the first time in a few years the Rams will have some cap room to spare even after they keep some of their own players. Can that help with their position needs though? Probably not.
Nick Foles did not work out for the Rams last year and it seems likely they would bring in another player to compete for the job. Once cut Robert Griffin III would have more potential than anyone else available. I’m sure some could look at the defense and say that maybe a veteran like a Drew Stanton or Ryan Fitzpatrick could do something, but unless they improve elsewhere they are better off with the higher upside player even if there is potential to bust completely.
There were rumors that the Eagles were interested in Foles and if that was true and I were the Rams I would look to see what I could get back for him. He has a $6 million guaranteed roster bonus that the Rams could avoid if they traded him and that might be worth it assuming they have another option. RGIII would be cut before the start of free agency so the Rams should have a good idea if they have an option on the table before moving Foles.
The Rams desperately need a receiver, but unfortunately this is not a great free agent group. Names like Rueben Randle and Travis Benjamin are not really much better than what they have and overpaying for a number 2 receiver that won’t have help is going to end up in disappointment. Maybe Marvin Jones could have some upside for this offense but only if it’s at a reasonable number. Expect this to be a draft need more than a free agent one.
I would expect the team to look at the offensive line to see where they could improve. Making a push for Alex Mack of the Browns would be a boost at center and there may be a few guards who can improve the interior line play or add depth to cover for injuries. They could always move on from Rodger Saffold if they really felt they found a strong candidate to replace him. Getting a veteran left tackle to potentially take over for Greg Robinson if he continues to struggle and needs to move to the right side or just take a break might be an option. Probably best to look at players who are released rather than pure free agents.
If they do let Long go the team would have the resources to go after an Olivier Vernon or even take a risk on a Jason Pierre-Paul. They have three really good pieces on that line and they could end up with a superunit if they decided to put the resources there to have the two dominant ends that can rush the passer.
If the Rams find the right options in free agency and the draft they have the opportunity to make a playoff run this year, but if I had to guess the real impact talent for them will need to come from the draft and wont be there in free agency.
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.