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St. Louis Rams 2013 Individual Cap Hits And Available Cap Space: March 3, 2013 Update

Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

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For months it was estimated that the 2013 NFL salary cap figure would be $121 million. This week, multiple reports have confirmed that the salary cap figure for 2013 will be $123.9 million. (please click on link).

This is good news for teams that were tight in available cap space going into the free agency signing period, including the St. Louis Rams. The additional $3.3 million over the 2012 salary cap (the actual salary cap figure for 2012 was $120.6 million) may not appear to be a significant amount on the surface. However, it could have an impact on signing one of our own free agents (ex. Danny Amendola, Steven Jackson or William Hayes), signing a free agent from another team or restructuring a contract/cutting a player from the Rams current roster.

St. Louis Rams 2013 Individual Cap Hits

Player Position Base Salary Signing Bonus Other Bonus Cap Figure
Cortland Finnegan CB 9,000,000 1,000,000 5,000,000 15,000,000
Chris Long DE 13,250,000 13,250,000
Sam Bradford QB 9,000,000 3,594,800 200 12,595,000
James Laurinaitis LB 1,000,000 400,000 11,000,000 12,400,000
Quintin Mikell S 6,000,000 1,000,000 2,000,000 9,000,000
Scott Wells C 5,500,000 1,000,000 6,500,000
Kendall Langford DT 5,000,000 1,000,000 6,000,000
Harvey Dahl G 4,000,000 4,000,000
Wayne Hunter T 3,950,000 50,000 4,000,000
Robert Quinn DE 1,232,829 1,340,646 2,573,475
Michael Brockers DT 822,818 1,341,272 2,164,090
JoLonn Dunbar LB 1,300,000 500,000 1,800,000
Rodger Saffold T 655,000 580,000 225,000 1,460,000
Eugene Sims DE 1,201,021 25,825 141 1,226,987
Brian Quick WR 634,845 589,250 1,224,095
Lance Kendricks TE 759,118 393,437 1,152,555
Janoris Jenkins CB 480,000 517,331 136,382 1,133,713
Isaiah Pead RB 573,550 344,200 917,750
Matthew Mulligan TE 725,000 100,000 825,000
Austin Pettis WR 580,000 153,604 733,604
Trumaine Johnson CB 499,000 167,794 30,000 696,794
Josh Hull LB 630,000 8,889 638,889
Shelley Smith G 630,000 630,000
Chris Givens WR 480,000 124,257 604,257
Jake McQuaide LS 555,000 833 555,833
Joe Barksdale T 555,000 555,000
Greg Zuerlein PK 480,000 32,205 512,205
Daryl Richardson RB 480,000 11,474 491,474
Brandon Washington G 484,484 484,484
John Hekker P 480,000 3,333 483,333
Matt Daniels S 480,000 3,333 483,333
Matt Conrath DT 480,000 2,000 482,000
Rodney McLeod S 480,000 1,333 481,333
Mason Brodine DE 480,000 480,000
Ty Nsekhe T 480,000 480,000
Sammy Brown LB 480,000 480,000
Cory Harkey TE 480,000 480,000
Jabara Williams LB 480,000 480,000
Terrance Ganaway RB 480,000 480,000
Austin Davis QB 480,000 480,000
Quinton Pointer CB 480,000 480,000
Rokevious Watkins G 405,000 47,825 452,825
Raymond Radway WR 405,000 405,000
Cameron Graham TE 405,000 405,000
Chase Reynolds RB 405,000 405,000
Nick Johnson WR 405,000 405,000
Dead Money
Jason Smith T 4,022,000 4,022,000
Greg Salas WR 225,576 225,576
Aaron Brown LB 51,675 51,675
Danario Alexander WR 8,888 8,888
Noah Keller LB 2,667 2,667
Alex Hoffman-Ellis LB 2,000 2,000
Active Contracts 110,968,029
Dead Money 4,312,806
2012 Available Cap Rollover 247,000
2013 Total Cap Hits 115,033,835

Available Salary Cap Space

2013 Salary Cap - 123,900,000

2013 Total Salary Cap Hits - 115,033,835

Available Salary Cap Space - 8,866,165

Terminology And Calculations

Available Salary Cap Space - Is 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 salary cap, plus the available cap rollover from 2012, less the dollar amount of current active contracts (cap hits), less the dollar amount of "dead money" cap hits.

Dead Money - Is the amount of money that still must be counted as cap hits in the current year for players that are no longer with the team. These amounts consist of guaranteed money/bonuses that were outstanding for 2013 (in some cases beyond 2013). The Rams are in a very good position going forward into 2014 with respect to dead money. 2013 is the last year for any dead money attributable to Jason Smith.

Salary Cap Figure (Hit) - Is any contractual obligation that counts against the salary cap in a particular year. It is the sum of a players base salary, signing and/or other bonuses and any incentives deemed to be earned.

Available Cap Rollover - Is the amount of the preceding years available cap space not used in that year. The amount carried forward by the Rams from 2012 is 247,000. Salary cap provisions allow for the carryforward to be added to cap space for the current year.

The Salary Cap - Is the maximum amount a team can have in total cap hits without incurring penalties imposed by the NFL. These penalties can be financial in nature and/or include the loss of draft picks. A team must be under the maximum before the start of the current season.

Signing vs Other Bonuses - A signing bonus can be defined in its literal sense. The signing bonus can be spread out (for cap purposes) evenly over the life of a contract. Other bonuses include roster, incentive, etc. bonuses that occur in different years of a contract and in varying amounts.

Observations, Implications And Clarifications

1. It had been reported over the past two weeks or so that the Rams were in fact over the salary cap. I had commented and reported that the Rams were 1.1 million over the cap (rounded off). Two major events occurred in the intervening two weeks that brought the Rams available cap space to where it is as of this writing: Steven Jackson is voiding his contract for 2013. This added 7.0 million to the available cap space figure (his 1.899 million bonus had already been accelerated to count as a 2012 cap hit). The announcement of the salary cap for 2013 (123.9 million) was 2.9 million over the estimated amount of 121 million, a figure that had been used for quite some time in calculating available cap space. These two events added 9.9 million to the Rams available cap space; hence the figure of 8.8 million in cap space at present.

2. The Rams currently have 46 players under contract and 19 players eligible for free agency.

3. Practice squad players do not count as cap hits because they are free agents. In the Rams case, all eight of their practice squad players from 2012 were signed to contracts on December 31, 2012. As such, they all count against the salary cap at the present time.

4. None of the 19 players eligible for free agency count against the salary cap at present, for they are not under contract. Only when (or if) any of them are re-signed will their contracts count against the salary cap for 2013.

5. When contemplating how the Rams should spend their available cap space money please bear in mind the following: the Rams will need to begin the coming season with approximately 2 million in cap space as a reserve, in the event of having to sign players to replace anyone sent to the injured reserve list. In addition, the available cap space figure, at present, does not include the amount it will cost to sign the Rams incoming rookie class. The 2012 rookie class cost 6.68 million to sign. A reasonable estimate for 2013 would be 7 million. They (the rookies) are not likely to be replacing many existing contracts on the team, as the Rams only have 46 players under contract (7 short of the 53 man roster).

6. It is commonplace in the TST community to suggest that the Rams restructure bigger contracts to free up cap space. I am a firm believer that this is a poor business practice. It is the chief reason why many teams end up in perilous cap space situations. In addition, it sends the message to prospective free agents from other teams (and the Rams own players) that the Rams organization does not honour their contracts. Kevin Demoff has stated on many occasions that the Rams are committed to the "pay as you go" approach to contracts, one that ensures a minimal amount of dead money counting against the cap. I have included a link to an article published on TST (RVB October 14, 2011) that quotes Kevin Demoff regarding the matter of restructuring contracts.

Contracts and Kevin Demoff (click on link).

7. Many on TST have suggested signing various free agents from other teams in addition to re-signing some of our own free agents. Given the current available cap space (and the need to have a reserve/sign our rookie class), for all intents and purposes the Rams are currently at zero with respect to projected available cap space. In order to sign/re-sign free agents, the only other means available (aside from restructuring contracts) for increasing cap space is to cut players currently under contract with the Rams.To give you an idea of the parameters regarding how much cap space can be created, listed here are the contracts of players that would be big enough to be considered prime candidates for cutting: Quintin Mikell (6 mil), Wayne Hunter (4 mil), Harvey Dahl (4 mil),Eugene Sims/Matthew Mulligan (2 mil). The total cap savings if all five of these players are cut is 16 million. It gives you an idea of what it would take (and the decisions that would have to be made) to create enough cap space to sign/re-sign players such as Phil Loadholt, Jake Long, Steven Jackson, William Hayes, Danny Amendola, Jared Cook, Dustin Keller, Andy Levitre etc.

8. Much commentary has been made in regard to Kevin Demoff being the only person who truly knows the Rams cap situation and cap space figure. With regard to planning and cap strategy that assertion would be correct. It is not correct with respect to available cap space figures. Every financial transaction that affects the salary cap must be reported to the league office and the NFLPA as it occurs. It then becomes public knowledge. There is a time lag between the transaction actually occurring and it being made public knowledge, so we never get to hear or read about it in real-time. However, we do find out about these transactions in a timely manner. There are no "secrets".

Eric Nagel, one of the great writers here on TST, asked me to keep the TST community updated on the cap situation on a regular basis through these posts. I appreciate his support and the faith he has in me to do this on an ongoing basis. Thanks Eric!

March 6 Update - The Rams have released Wayne Hunter, adding 4 million to the available cap space total earlier in this post.

Sources: Rotoworld, Spotrac, NFL.com

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