Latest Salary Cap Breakdown for St. Louis Rams
As we go through the latest St. Louis Rams salary cap breakdown, we will find that tough decisions loom if the the team is going to create the cap space they need.
Prior to extending the contracts of Chris Long and James Laurinaitis before the start of the 2012 regular season, the Rams were set to have oodles of 2013 cap space.
Before the ink dried on those two contracts, the Rams 2013 cap space went from cavernous to constricted.
With all of their existing contracts, the Rams 2013 cap hit, as of 02/15/2013, is $120.656 million. And that is just for the top 51 players, which are the only contracts that count against the cap in the offseason. If we take into account the dead money for 2013, (thanks, Billy Devaney) that number jumps to $124.722 million.
Clearly, players will be cut, and others will have their contracts restructured.
Let's break it down by position and see where the Rams can save some money.
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This is a bargain year for the Rams. Bradford made $15.95 million in the 2012 season, and is due $17.6 million in 2014.
2013 is the year in which Bradford must earn that 2014 pay day, but he is safe for now.
The only other quarterback currently on the Rams' roster is 2012 rookie Austin Davis. His relatively paltry $480,000 won't be coming off the books or getting restructured.
What will be interesting is how the Rams choose to address their need for a third quarterback. Do they bring back Kellen Clemens, pick up another rookie in the draft or scour the free-agent market for some other veteran QB?
Jeff Fisher will likely want someone experienced in case Bradford goes down and Davis proves unable to run an NFL team in a game situation.
Jason Campbell, Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Moore and Seneca Wallace are all free agents who could come in and provide that veteran presence off the bench while not hurting the Rams' wallet too much—especially Moore, who hasn't thrown a pass in a game since 2010 but was impressive when he did play.
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Isaiah Pead is the future for the Rams at running back.
Yeah, I said it.
Pead's competitiveness was widely lauded while he was in college. He lost his second-string job to Daryl Richardson largely because of Richardson's more decisive nature when hitting the holes, but it wasn't entirely Pead's fault. His indecisiveness was a product of playing behind a porous offensive line at the University of Cincinnati.
Considering his competitive nature, Pead surely learned from his mistakes and will show Rams fans why Les Snead and Jeff Fisher thought him worthy of the 50th overall selection in the 2012 draft.
That will be a good thing, too, because Steven Jackson—and his $8.899 million cap hit—probably won't be back in St. Louis.
From a strictly business point of view, it doesn't make sense to bring Jackson back even if he opts out of his contract and re-signs for a lower salary. With Pead and Richardson already in the fold, and having shown they can contribute, the Rams could add a big bruiser in the draft to complement their two shifty backs for a fraction of what it would cost to bring Jackson back.
Pead is due $917,750 in 2013. Richardson will earn $491,474. Even if the Rams take a running back in the first round, last year's 22nd overall pick, Brandon Weeden, signed for $8 million over four years.
The Rams won't be able to get Jackson back for that little money.
And they probably won't take a running back that high. If they take one in the second round or later, their financial commitment will be even less.
Jackson is great, and he has a lot left in the tank. But the Rams' salary cap situation makes it imprudent to bring him back.
It will be a sad day in St. Louis, but a necessary one.
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In 2013, the Rams' highest paid wide receiver will earn less money than 15 other players currently on the roster. His name is Brian Quick, and he will only take up $1.224 million of cap space.
Newcomer Titus Young will earn $789,666.
Austin Pettis and Chris Givens will earn $733,604 and $604,257 respectively.
That is all the money the Rams have tied up in their wide receiver corps.
Such an important position having so little money dedicated to it is a problem that needs to be remedied.
They will try to bring Danny Amendola back. But, considering his injury history, if another team offers him more than the Rams are comfortable with, they will let him walk.
Sadly, bringing in some other free-agent wide receiver just does not seem plausible considering the Rams' salary cap situation and the price tags that Greg Jennings and Dwayne Bowe are likely to command. Even if they are able to free up some money, it likely won't be enough to sign one of those guys and their own players and draft picks.
Solidifying the wide receiver position on this team is going to take some craftiness. Unless, of course, they just decide to pick up another rookie and roll without any veteran leadership at the position.
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The tight end position is another financially neglected area of this Rams team.
Lance Kendricks will earn $1.152 million in 2013.
Behind him are Matthew Mulligan ($825,000) and Cory Harkey ($480,000).
The Rams need another playmaker here, and as always, they will look to build through the draft. Stanford's Zach Ertz and Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert are the two early-round possibilities.
If everything goes perfectly as far as cutting players and restructuring contracts, the Rams may have enough change left over to go after Dustin Keller or Jared Cook on the free-agent market.
Keller played under Brian Schottenheimer in New York. Schotty's presence in The Lou may be enough incentive to lure him here. And his underwhelming 2012 performance assures his relative affordability.
Cook was drafted by Fisher. If he is like every other player Fisher has coached, (sans Vince Young) he would love nothing more than to play for his mustachioed former leader once again.
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Scott Wells is far and away the Rams' highest-paid offensive lineman; he will rake in $6.5 million clams in 2013.
Though Wells' injury-shortened 2012 season was a disappointment, there isn't much the Rams can do with his contract just yet. If Wells has anything less than a top-tier effort in 2013, he may find himself being asked to restructure for 2014.
The second-highest paid Rams offensive lineman is Wayne Hunter.
Yup, Wayne Hunter.
The same guy who was booed out of New York and then spent the 2012 season as an overpriced, underwhelming backup to Barry Richardson.
$4 million is a lot of money for a backup tackle. The Rams can cut him and save nearly all of it. They will certainly do that.
There is good news and bad news with Rodger Saffold. The good news is that he is only going to count $1.46 million against the cap in 2013.
The bad news is that he is an unrestricted free agent after the season. This means the Rams need to work out an extension before or during the 2013 season. Though Saffold isn't considered by most to be a top-tier left tackle, he will still get one hell of a raise.
Harvey Dahl is due to make $4 million in each of the next two seasons. The Rams will pay him this year, but if he doesn't improve on his 2012 performance, he may find himself out of work in about 12 months' time.
The next highest paid offensive lineman is Shelley Smith. The former sixth-round pick of the Houston Texans is slated to make $630,000 in 2013, the final year of his back-loaded rookie contract.
He may be a candidate for the chopping block, as he could be replaced by a mid- to late-round draft pick which would save the Rams a few hundred thousand dollars.
Joe Barksdale, Brandon Washington, Ty Nsekhe and Rokevious Watkins are all in the $400,000 to $550,000 range.
Don't expect much change from this group. Though a drafted replacement may come a little cheaper than Barksdale's $555,000, the Rams only have so many picks.
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Chris Long's $13.25 million ranks him second on the Rams' list of highest payed players for 2013.
After that, the defensive linemen's salaries become a little more reasonable, at least by the standards of contemporary professional sports.
Kendall Langford will count $6 million against the 2013 cap. He has $12 million guaranteed and he's only been paid three. He's not going anywhere.
Robert Quinn's $2.57 million is a steal, especially if he can add some discipline to his pass rush.
Michael Brockers comes in at $2.16 million for 2013. He won't make any more than $3.03 million through 2015. That's a great contract on an even better player.
Eugene Sims might find himself looking for a job thanks to the $1.22 million he is owed in 2013. With 20 tackles and three sacks, he had a decent season for a backup defensive end, but William Hayes had a better one and the Rams need to free up some cash to bring him back.
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James Laurinaitis' 2013 cap number of $12.4 million is by far the biggest one of his contract. In 2014 the Rams salary cap will save $2 million on his account. Another $6 million will come off of his tab for 2015.
The Rams structured his deal this way so they would have money to sign the players whose rookie contracts will be expiring in a few years. It really is brilliantly set up. Take a look.
The only other significant linebacker contract is JoLonn Dunbar's. He will count $1.8 million against the cap in 2013, and the Rams are fine with that.
2012 strong-side starter Rocky McIntosh is an unrestricted free agent and is unlikely to be re-signed.
Josh Hull ($638,889) and Sammy Brown ($480,000) will return and provide depth.
What the Rams need is a strong-side starter to replace and be an upgrade over McIntosh.
Ideally, this player would come through the draft. Free-agent starting linebackers don't come cheap, and those that are out there are either old or likely to be way too expensive.
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It might come as a surprise to learn that Cortland Finnegan will be the biggest burden on the Rams' salary cap in 2013, with a cap hit of an even $15 million.
2013 is the bad year in Finnegan's contract. He won't cost the team any more than $10 million in salary cap space for the remaining three years—still a lot of money—but acceptable for a No. 1 cornerback.
Janoris Jenkins is next on the list at $1.133 million. His is another good contract for the Rams. He won't cost them any more than $1.66 million in salary cap space through 2015. If he continues to play the way he did in 2012, or better yet improves with experience, his contract might be the biggest bargain of them all.
After Jenkins, we have Trumaine Johnson at $696,794, Rodney McLeod at $481,333 and Quinton Pointer at $480,000.
Even with the likely departure of Bradley Fletcher through free agency, the Rams are pretty happy with their cornerback situation.
But, lest we forget the 2011 season that saw the Rams place 10 cornerbacks on injured reserve, there is no such thing as too much depth in the NFL.
With this in mind, look for the Rams to take at least one cornerback in the draft, possibly as high as the third round if they feel they are getting a steal.
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The Rams only have two safeties currently on their roster, and they have to ask one of them to take a pay cut.
Quintin Mikell had a Pro Bowl-caliber season, though he wasn't actually selected for the game.
From Pro Football Focus:
To round out our NFC defense we head back out West with the Rams providing their first PFF Pro Bowler with Quintin Mikell's form over the second half of the season giving him the nod as the ideal box safety. Mikell has excelled blitzing the passer recording pressure on better than one in five of his blitzes and he has been a strong presence in run defense too. His coverage does suffer at times but regardless this is the sort of impact the Rams were expecting when they signed him last season.
Despite being a liability in coverage at times, Mikell earned the money he is due in 2013.
The Rams have two options: They can ask him to restructure or just cut him outright.
Considering little-used safety Matt Daniels is the only other player at the position currently under contract (Darian Stewart is a restricted free agent), cutting Mikell would be ill-advised. Getting him to restructure is going to be a difficult sell, but Jeff Fisher doesn't want both of his starting safeties to be rookies.
If Mikell refuses to restructure and the Rams are forced to cut him, the safety class in this year's draft is deep enough that they could fish two starters out of it. But if that happens, look out for blown assignments in the secondary next season.