The Los Angeles Rams headed into the offseason with plenty of work to do and many difficult personnel decisions to make. As the last 5 weeks have unfolded, it’s become evident the teams’ primary goal was to re-sign as many of their own pending Free Agents as possible and avoid making any big splashes in the Free Agency market. For the most part, the Rams accomplished what they set out to do.
Offseason Transactions To-Date
On February 19, the Rams released Chris Long, James Laurinaitis and Jared Cook, gaining close to $24 million in salary cap space in the process. The additional $24 million left the Rams with close to $50.5 million in salary cap space (with all additional costs for 2016 taken into consideration).
In the weeks leading up to the opening of the new league year (and Free Agency) on March 9, the Rams were in the unenviable position of having 28 players eligible for Free Agency (12 UFA’s, 6 RFA’s and 10 ERFA’s). Before March 9, the Rams reduced that number to 15 by tendering all 10 of their ERFA’s, tendering RFA’s Benny Cunningham and Case Keenum and placing the Franchise Tag on Trumaine Johnson.
Once Free Agency opened, the Rams managed to re-sign 8 of their remaining Free Agents (Tim Barnes, William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Brian Folkerts, Brian Quick, Cody Davis, Mark Barron and Cory Harkey).
The Rams wisely chose not to overpay for the services of Rodney McLeod and Janoris Jenkins, both of whom were signed to bloated contracts by Philadelphia and the NY Giants, respectively. In addition, Daren Bates and Nick Fairley both found new homes in Oakland and New Orleans. The Rams have 3 remaining Free Agents (Chase Reynolds, Greg Zuerlein and Wes Welker). It’s still possible the Rams will re-sign both Zuerlein and Reynolds at a later date, with minimal impact on the salary cap.
The Rams made a pair of quality, medium-sized moves in Free Agency, signing CB Coty Sensabaugh and DE Quinton Coples. On Monday, ESPN’s Nick Wagoner gave a good breakdown of where Sensabaugh and Coples will fit in the Rams’ defense.
2016 Player Contracts & Salary Cap Calculations
The accompanying chart presents the Los Angeles Rams’ detailed current offseason salary cap position as of March 31, 2016. It includes all current contracts, dead money and a breakdown of all related costs used in determining the Rams’ available salary cap space for 2016.
|Player||Position||Base Salary||Prorated Bonus||Other Bonus||Cap Hit||Release Savings|
|Tim McDonald Jr.||SS||1,671,000||162,000||1,833,000||1,671,000|
|Total Active Contracts||142,867,620|
|Total Top 51 Contracts||136,042,287|
|65 Players Under Contract|
|Total Dead Money||6,459,725|
|Total Salary Cap Hits|
|Total Top 51 Contracts||136,042,287|
|Total Dead Money||6,459,725|
|Net League Adjustments||292,578|
|2016 Total Salary Cap Hits||142,794,590|
|Team Salary Cap|
|Unadjusted Salary Cap||155,270,000|
|2016 Salary Cap Carryover||933,521|
|2016 Accrued Workout Bonuses||-506,600|
|2016 Prior Year Adjustments||-31,732|
|2015 Adjusted Team Salary Cap||155,665,189|
|Available Salary Cap Space||12,870,599|
Descriptions And Terminology
2016 Unadjusted NFL Salary Cap – The league-wide unadjusted salary cap for 2016 is $155.27 million.
2016 Salary Cap Carryover – The Rams had $2,178,544 million in salary cap space available for carryover and/or application against year-end salary cap charges from 2015. They chose to apply $1.245 million of the carryover against year-end salary cap charges/net league adjustments from 2015.
Net League Adjustments – Adjustments include outstanding proven performance escalators, earned incentives and accrued workout bonuses.
Adjusted Team Salary Cap – The actual salary cap (after adjustments) for a particular team in the current league year. Each team will have a different figure for cap purposes.The 2016 adjusted team salary cap is calculated by taking the league salary cap figure and adding any carryover from 2015, then subtracting accrued workout bonuses and 2015 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 at various times during the year.
Additional Financial Obligations – Are obligations incurred by the Rams at varying times throughout 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).
Available Salary Cap Space – The amount of money the Rams have remaining to spend on player contract obligations, without exceeding the salary cap. The calculation to determine the available salary cap space is: the dollar amount of the adjusted salary cap, less the total dollar value of current active contracts (cap hits) less any “dead money”.
Dead Money – The amount of money counting as cap hits in the current year, for players that are no longer with the team. These amounts consist of guaranteed money/bonuses/prorated amounts outstanding for 2016 (in some cases beyond 2016).
Salary Cap Figure (Hit) – Any contractual obligation counting against the salary cap in a particular year. It’s the sum of a players base salary, signing and/or other bonuses, and any incentives/escalators deemed to be earned.
The Salary Cap – The maximum amount a team can have in total cap hits, plus dead money, without incurring penalties imposed by the NFL. These penalties can be financial in nature and/or include the loss of draft picks.
Signing/Prorated vs Other Bonuses – A signing bonus can be defined in its literal sense. The signing bonus is spread out – prorated for cap purposes – evenly over the life of a contract. Other bonuses include roster, incentive, option, etc. bonuses that occur in different years of a contract, and in varying amounts. These bonuses cannot be spread out over the life of the contract.
Accrued Workout Bonuses – Are adjustments charged by the league, reducing a teams available salary cap space. These bonuses will reduce the Rams’ salary cap space by $506,600 on March 9. From the 2011 CBA:
“…all players will earn $175 a day for each day they participate in 2013. That per day number changes every other year, with the next increase slated for 2015. The NFL charges each team at the start of the 2015 league year a cap fee of $506,600 for minimum workouts on top of the contracted bonuses, so any reported cap space number between now and the start of the regular season needs to be reduced by $504,000. At the end of the workout period teams have their salary cap credited for money that was not earned.”
Prior Year Adjustments – The league adjusts/charges a teams’ current year salary cap for player incentives and performance escalators earned in the previous year. The figure is normally netted out of any salary cap carryforward from the previous year.
Roster Detail – Currently, there are 65 players under contract for 2016. Contracts run concurrently with the league year. The new league year began on March 9, 2016.
Methodology – To derive salary cap figures and information, two main sources are used: the NFLPA and the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NFLPA only publishes team salary cap details as team totals. Once the totals are established, I then compile information for individual contracts, ensuring they collectively add up to match the NFLPA totals. At last count, 83 sources have been used to compile data on the Rams’ individual contracts.
2016 Los Angeles Rams Salary Cap Summary
The Rams will incur additional salary cap costs throughout the remainder of the year. To get a clear picture of the Rams’ “usable” salary cap space, these additional costs must be subtracted from the current $12.9 million in available salary cap space.
The additional costs total an estimated $8 million and include: Practice Squad salaries, a season-opening reserve, the net cost of signing the 2016 draft class and counting 53 players against the salary cap in September (as opposed to only the top-51 in the offseason. As a result, the Rams have only $4.9 million in usable salary cap space at present.
|2016 NFL Salary Cap||$155,270,000|
|Plus: Los Angeles Rams 2015 Salary Cap Carryover||$933,521|
|Less: Los Angeles Rams 2016 Accrued Workout Bonuses||-$506,600|
|Less: 2016 Prior Year Adjustments||-$31,732|
|Los Angeles Rams Adjusted Team Salary Cap||$155,665,189|
|Less: All 2016 Contractual Obligations||$142,794,590|
|Los Angeles Rams Current Available Salary Cap Space||$12,870,599|
|Less: Additional 2016 Financial Obligations (est.):|
|Practice Squad Salaries||$1,200,000|
|Roster To 53 Players From 51||$1,000,000|
|Net League Adjustments ($1.245M – February)||$0|
|NET Cost Of Signing Rookie Draft Class||$3,000,000|
|Total 2016 Additional Financial Obligations (est.)||$8,000,000|
|Los Angeles Rams Actual 2016 Available Salary Cap Space (est.)||$4,870,599|
Observations & Future Implications
The Rams clearly approached this offseason and Free Agency in a cautious manner and with future salary cap considerations in mind. They had a plan and stuck to it. The plan involved three key elements: re-signing as many of their own Free Agents as possible, paying up front (not back loading contracts) and not overspending in a manner that could affect their 2017 salary cap.
With all costs taken into consideration in my estimate, the Rams currently have close to $53 million in salary cap space for 2017 (based on the league-wide salary cap rising to $170 million). If Nick Foles ($12.25M), Rodger Saffold ($4.22M), Coty Sensabaugh ($4M) and Lance Kendricks ($4.25M) don’t perform up to expectations in 2016, all four could become salary cap casualties in 2017, with the Rams gaining an additional $24.72 million in salary cap relief.
Husbanding salary cap space for 2017 was an essential element of the Rams’ offseason plan. Trumaine Johnson, Tavon Austin, Alec Ogletree, Tim McDonald Jr. and Michael Brockers could all become Free Agents after the 2016 season. And Aaron Donald isn’t too far behind. The Rams will need all the salary cap space they can muster if they wish to re-sign all six of these core players.
From a strictly financial perspective, the Rams have had a very solid offseason to-date.
Los Angeles Rams Current Roster & Depth Chart
|C||Tim Barnes||Demetrius Rhaney||Eric Kush|
|RG||Jamon Brown||Cody Wichmann||Brian Folkerts|
|LG||Rodger Saffold||Garrett Reynolds||David Arkin|
|RT||Rob Havenstein||Andrew Donnal|
|LT||Greg Robinson||Darrell Williams||Isaiah Battle|
|TE||Lance Kendricks||Cory Harkey||Justice Cunningham|
|WR||Tavon Austin||Stedman Bailey||Kain Colter|
|WR||Kenny Britt||Nick Toon||Isiah Ferguson|
|WR||Brian Quick||Bradley Marquez||Deon Long|
|RB||Tre Mason||Trey Watts||Malcolm Brown|
|RB||Todd Gurley||Benny Cunningham||Zach Laskey|
|QB||Case Keenum||Nick Foles||Sean Mannion|
|DT||Aaron Donald||Doug Worthington||Louis Trinca-Pasat|
|DT||Michael Brockers||Ethan Westbrooks|
|DE||William Hayes||Eugene Sims|
|DE||Robert Quinn||Quinton Coples||Matt Longacre|
|MLB||Alec Ogletree||Bryce Hager|
|OLB||Mark Barron||Zack Hodges||Matthew Wells|
|OLB||Akeem Ayers||Cameron Lynch|
|CB||E.J. Gaines||Coty Sensabaugh||Marcus Roberson|
|CB||Trumaine Johnson||Lamarcus Joyner||Eric Patterson||Troy Hill|
|SS||Tim McDonald Jr.||Maurice Alexander|
|FS||Cody Davis||Christian Bryant|
|65 Players Total|
The Rams’ 28 Free Agents
Red: The 21 players re-signed by the Rams.
Blue: The 4 players signed by other teams in Free Agency.
Black: The Rams’ 3 remaining Free Agents.