I had speculated the other day that the Rams needed to restructure a contract in order to execute the trade for safety Mark Barron and as it turns out the Rams did just that. According to Brian McIntyre, the Rams tweaked the contract of tight end Jared Cook this time around to comply with salary cap restrictions.
To fit Mark Barron & Co under the cap, Rams converted portion of Jared Cook’s base salary to a signing bonus. Created ~$900k in cap space
— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) October 30, 2014
In the restructure it seems that the Rams reduced Cook’s P5 from $3 million to the minimum of $730,000 and converted the balance to a signing bonus. The Rams gained $901,323 in cap space with the restructure. Cooks salary cap charge will now rise by $300,441 over the next three seasons. I believe Cook had incentives in his contract which I am assuming were removed as those would have counted against the cap following the restructure.
The Rams, probably more than any other team in the NFL, ride the cap as close as possible to their salary cap limit. This leads to the need for potential in-season restructures if a big move comes along, like the trade, or if injuries force them to sign additional players. The Rams have been decimated by injuries the last two seasons so they have had a handful of restructured deals leading into and during the season.
It’s a bit of a different approach than most teams in the NFL. Usually teams that ride this close to the salary cap do so because they have very little choice based on how they have managed their roster and the costs associated with cutting certain players. The Rams operate this way by choice, maintaining flexibility in future years to pick and choose the contracts to restructure, in part based on current performance rather than trying to project that performance at an earlier date.