March 10, 4.00 pm EDT marks the opening of the new league year and Free Agency. The Rams have a number of players on the roster set to become Free Agents. Will they attempt to re-sign any of them? With the potential for numerous holes on the offensive line, the Rams will not be able to stabilize the line solely through the upcoming draft. Will the Rams actively pursue help for the offensive line via Free Agency? Do the Rams have enough salary cap space to go after players they’re interested in?
St. Louis Rams 2015 Eligible Free Agents
The accompanying chart presents the 14 players eligible for Free Agency when the 2014 regular season ended:
On March 6, the number of pending Free Agents was reduced from 14 to 9. The Rams tendered 5 of their 6 Restricted and Exclusive Rights Free Agents last Friday, four days in advance of the deadline. All 5 contracts have one-year terms.
Brandon Washington – $585,000 – Washington was tendered at the league minimum for an ERFA with two credited seasons. He is restricted from signing with another team.
Chase Reynolds – $585,000 – Reynolds was tendered at the league minimum for an ERFA with two credited seasons. He is restricted from signing with another team.
Austin Davis – $1,542,000 – Davis was tendered at the minimum level for a RFA. The Rams retain the right to match a higher offer, but will not receive any compensation if Davis is signed by another team.
Cory Harkey – $1,542,000 – Harkey was tendered at the minimum level for a RFA. The Rams retain the right to match a higher offer, but will not receive any compensation if Harkey is signed by another team.
Rodney McLeod – $2,356,000 – McLeod was tendered at the second round level for a RFA. The Rams retain the right to match any higher offer and will receive a 2nd round draft pick if McLeod is signed by another team.
RFA Tim Barnes was not tendered by the Rams and will become a Free Agent. The Rams could possibly re-sign Barnes at a later date for less money than the tender required.
The Rams will likely allow all eight remaining eligible Unrestricted Free Agents to test the market beginning March 10.
On February 26 (in a transaction unrelated to Free Agency) the Rams released DT Kendall Langford. As a result of his release, the Rams gained $6 million in salary cap relief.
St. Louis Rams Current Roster And Depth Chart
The accompanying chart presents the Rams’ 60-man current roster and depth chart. It reflects the subtraction of nine players becoming Free Agents, the release of Kendall Langford and the inclusion of the five above-mentioned tendered players.
|C||Scott Wells||Demetrius Rhaney|
|RG||Rodger Saffold||Brandon Washington|
|LG||Barrett Jones||Travis Bond|
|RT||Jake Long||Steven Baker|
|TE||Cory Harkey||Justice Cunningham||Brad Smelley|
|TE||Jared Cook||Alex Bayer||Mason Brodine|
|WR||Brian Quick||Chris Givens||Devon Wylie||Damian Williams|
|WR||Tavon Austin||Stedman Bailey||Emory Blake|
|RB||Tre Mason||Chase Reynolds||Trey Watts|
|RB||Benny Cunningham||Zac Stacy||Isaiah Pead|
|QB||Sam Bradford||Austin Davis|
|P||John Hekker||Michael Palardy|
|DT||Michael Brockers||Doug Worthington|
|DE||Chris Long||William Hayes|
|DE||Robert Quinn||Eugene Sims||Ethan Westbrooks|
|MLB||James Laurinaitis||Daren Bates|
|OLB||Alec Ogletree||Korey Toomer|
|OLB||Jo-Lonn Dunbar||Marshall McFadden|
|CB||Janoris Jenkins||Marcus Roberson||Brandon McGee|
|CB||Trumaine Johnson||E.J. Gaines||Lamarcus Joyner|
|SS||T.J. McDonald||Mark Barron||Maurice Alexander|
|FS||Rodney McLeod||Cody Davis||Christian Bryant|
St. Louis Rams Available Salary Cap Space
The accompanying chart presents the Rams’ current salary cap situation heading into the new league year:
|Actual 2015 Available Salary Cap Space||-5,021,184|
|2015 NFL Salary Cap||143,280,000|
|Plus: Rams' 2014 Salary Cap Carryover||0|
|Plus: Rams' Net League Adjustments||1,393,387|
|St. Louis Rams Adjusted Team Salary Cap||144,673,387|
|2015 Current Net "Top-51" Contractual Obligations||141,694,571|
|St. Louis Rams Current Available Salary Cap Space||2,978,816|
|Less: Additional 2015 Financial Obligations (est.):|
|Practice Squad Salaries||1,100,000|
|Roster To 53 Players From 51||900,000|
|NET Cost Of Signing Rookie Draft Class||2,800,000|
|Total 2015 Additional Financial Obligations (est.)||8,000,000|
Terminology And Calculations
2015 NFL Salary Cap – The league-wide salary cap (before adjustments) is $143,280,000 for 2015.
2014 Salary Cap Carryover – The Rams were the only team in the NFL without unused salary cap space to carry over from 2014 to 2015.
Net League Adjustments – Adjustments include proven performance escalators, earned incentives, accrued workout bonuses and carryovers. In addition, the Rams received a $3 million salary cap credit for Cortland Finnegan. The credit was earned as a result of an offset included in the language of Finnegan’s contract with the Rams, and was triggered when Finnegan signed with the Dolphins.
Adjusted Team Salary Cap – The adjusted team salary cap is calculated by taking the league salary cap figure and adding/subtracting carryovers and net league adjustments.
Net “Top-51” Contractual Obligations – In the offseason, only the top 51 contracts in terms of cap hits (plus outstanding dead money) count against the Rams’ adjusted team salary cap.
Current Available Salary Cap Space – Current available salary cap space only takes into account obligations incurred to-date. It doesn’t account for additional financial obligations counting against the salary cap later in the year.
Additional Financial Obligations – Are obligations incurred by the Rams during the remainder of the year. They must be budgeted for, as they count against the salary cap at different times during the year: Practice squad salaries – during the regular season, season-opening reserve – September, signing the rookie draft class – June, and 2 players added to make up the 53-man roster – September.
Actual Available Salary Cap Space – This figure is the amount of salary cap space the Rams have with all 2015 financial obligations taken into account. Available salary cap space will change as the Rams sign/re-sign players, and release/restructure players currently on the roster.
The Financial Foursome (Re-visited)
The Rams will need to create a substantial amount of salary cap space if they wish to re-sign any of their eligible free agents, or those from another team. Currently the Rams sit close to $5 million over the salary cap, with all costs for 2015 taken into consideration.
In my first salary cap update of 2015, I looked at 4 prime candidates for an outright release or contract restructuring/renegotiation (based on the size of their salary cap hits and individual circumstances): Sam Bradford, Kendall Langford, Jake Long, and Scott Wells.
The Rams and Sam Bradford’s agent Tom Condon are currently involved in talks related to reducing Bradford’s $12.985 base salary for 2015. Little progress has been made. The talks are likely aimed at converting a substantial portion of Bradford’s base salary into cap-friendly incentives.
As noted, the Rams released DT Kendall Langford, creating $6 million in salary cap space.
The Rams are also in negotiations with Jake Long, the intent being to lower his $10.5 million salary cap hit for 2015. It’s possible that Long could still be released (with a salary cap savings of $8 million). We will know the outcome of these talks sooner than later. On March 14, $4 million of Long’s $9.25 base salary becomes guaranteed.
For most of the offseason to-date, many have presumed that Scott Wells would be released before the beginning of the new league year. He’s still on the roster, and there’s been little news from the Rams’ front office related to Wells. If he’s released, the Rams would gain $3.75 million in salary cap relief. Could the non-tendering of Tim Barnes be a sign that Wells will remain with the Rams in 2015? Again, we’ll know soon enough. Wells is due to receive a $1 million roster bonus on March 12.
March 9 update: 10.00 pm
The Rams announced the release of both Jake Long and Scott Wells today. The Rams gain a total of $11.75 million in salary cap relief. As a result, the Rams’ Actual 2015 Available Salary Cap Space now becomes a positive figure: $6,728,816.
March 10 update: 9.30 am
I published an updated version of this article on Turf Show Times at 9.30 AM March 10. It reflects the changes in figures due to the releases of Long and Wells. Here’s the link to the article.
March 11 update: 11.00am
I published a Rams salary cap update on Turf Show Times last night, reflecting the implications of the Foles-Bradford trade. Here’s the link to the article.