Since my last St. Louis Rams salary cap update on March 11, 2013, both the free agency signing period and the NFL draft have transpired. In addition, the NFL league office, in conjunction with the NFLPA, determined the adjusted salary cap figure for each team.
The Rams roster (and cap space situation) has undergone numerous changes since the opening of the free agency signing period. The Rams signed free agents Jake Long and Jared Cook. The Rams also re-signed seven of their own free agents: William Hayes, Chris Williams, Darian Stewart, Jermelle Cudjo, Kellen Clemens, Tim Barnes and Mike McNeill. Some familiar names have departed from the Rams via free agency, most notably Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, Robert Turner and Brandon Gibson. To create additional cap space, the Rams restructured Chris Long's contract. In order to keep track of the changes, I regularly update the players on the Rams roster and depth chart. As of May 27, the Rams have the full off season complement of 90 players on the roster. The first chart contains all of the players previously under contract, 2013 free agent signings and the 2013 draft class. The second chart contains the 30 players signed as UDFA's after the draft.
|C||Scott Wells||Tim Barnes|
|RG||Harvey Dahl||Shelley Smith||Brandon Washington|
|LG||Barrett Jones||Rokevious Watkins|
|RT||Rodger Saffold||Chris Williams||Ty Nsekhe|
|LT||Jake Long||Joe Barksdale|
|TE||Lance Kendricks||Cory Harkey||Cameron Graham|
|TE||Jared Cook||Mike McNeill||Zach Potter|
|WR||Tavon Austin||Stedman Bailey|
|WR||Chris Givens||Austin Pettis|
|WR||Brian Quick||Raymond Radway||Nick Johnson|
|RB||Zac Stacy||Terrance Ganaway||Chase Reynolds|
|RB||Isaiah Pead||Daryl Richardson|
|QB||Sam Bradford||Austin Davis||Kellen Clemens|
|DT||Michael Brockers||Matt Conrath|
|DT||Kendall Langford||Jermelle Cudjo|
|DE||Chris Long||Eugene Sims||Mason Brodine|
|DE||Robert Quinn||William Hayes|
|MLB||James Laurinaitis||Josh Hull|
|SLB||Jo-Lonn Dunbar||Jabara Williams|
|WLB||Alec Ogletree||Sammy Brown|
|CB||Cortland Finnegan||Brandon McGee||Quinton Pointer|
|CB||Janoris Jenkins||Trumaine Johnson|
|FS||Darian Stewart||Rodney McLeod|
|SS||T.J. McDonald||Matthew Daniels|
|Don Unamba||S||Southern Arkansas|
|Scott Pillar||WR||Albright College|
|Jonathan Stewart||ILB||Texas A & M|
|Andre Martin||CB||North Dakota St.|
|Joseph LeBeau||LB||Jackson State|
|Tim Jenkins||QB||Fort Lewis College|
|CJ Akins||WR||Angelo State|
|Jorgen Hus||LS||University of Regina|
|Ray Ray Armstrong||SS||Miami|
|Garrett Goebel||DT||Ohio State|
|Cody Davis||S||Texas Tech|
|Al Lapuaho||DT||Utah State|
|Kevin Saia||G||Louisiana Tech|
|Benny Cunningham||RB||Middle Tennessee St.|
This update presents the current off season cap space situation and expands on some of the concepts presented in earlier updates:
2. The off season roster and salary cap implications.
3. The cost of signing the rookie class.
4. The amount of cap space needed in reserve.
5. The restructuring of Chris Long's contract.
St. Louis Rams 2013 Individual Cap Hits and Available Cap Space
|Player||Position||Base Salary||Signing Bonus||Other Bonus||Cap Figure|
|Top 51 Contracts||107,499,183|
|2013 Total Cap Hits||Off Season||118,643,633|
|2013 Unadjusted Salary Cap||123,000,000|
|2013 Available Cap Rollover||247,347|
|2013 Accrued Workout Bonuses||504,000|
|2013 Prior Year Adjustment||577,010|
|2013 Adjusted Team Salary Cap||122,166,337|
|Minimum Salary Benefits||900,000||-285,000||615,000|
|Available Cap Space||3,522,704|
Minimum Salary Benefits: The base, unadjusted salary cap for all 32 teams is 123 million for 2013. In addition, each team has 900,000 in Minimum Salary Benefits available to them. This allows a team to sign a veteran player for the league minimum, based on that players years of experience, and reduce the cap hit to that of the league minimum for a player with two years experience.When the Rams re-signed QB Kellen Clemens, they used the MSB provisions to reduce the cap hit on his contract. Clemens was signed to the league minimum for players with 8 years experience (840,000). The cap hit was reduced by 285,000 to that of the league minimum for a player with two years experience (555,000).
Dead Money: Is a salary cap charge for a player that is no longer on the teams roster. The dead money is comprised of guaranteed monies and/or pro-rated signing, roster or other bonuses.
Unadjusted salary cap: Is the base salary cap amount (123 million in 2013) for each of the 32 NFL teams.
Available cap rollover: Is the amount of unused cap space from the previous year that is allowed to be carried forward and used in the current year.
Accrued workout bonuses: Are monies charged by the NFL to teams that reduce available cap space:
"...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 2013 league year a cap fee of $504,000 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 salary cap adjustment: These adjustments take into account incentives and performance bonuses earned in the previous year. They are charged against available cap space in the current year.
Adjusted team salary cap: Is 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. For 2013, the Rams Adjusted Team Salary Cap equals the base salary cap (123 million), plus the carry-forward from 2012 (247,347), less the prior year and accrued workout bonus adjustments (577,010 and 504,000). The 2013 adjusted salary cap for the Rams is 122,166,337.
Available cap space (off season): Is the amount of cap space remaining once the top 51 contracts and dead money is subtracted from the 2013 adjusted salary cap. Currently, this figure is 3,522,704 (122,166,337 minus 118,643,633).
Signing the rookie draftees
The current rookie wage scale was implemented with the new CBA signed in 2011. In essence, the rookie wage scale represents a rookie salary cap within the main salary cap. As of this writing, none of the rookies drafted by the Rams this year have been signed to a contract. The chart below is an estimate of the cap hit for each of the seven players drafted by the Rams in 2013:
|Player||Round/Pick||2013 Cap Hit|
|Total Cap Hits||6,118,617|
|Net Cap Cost||3,283,617|
The 2013 cap hit figures for each player includes their base salaries and any applicable bonuses. The net cap cost of signing the rookies is determined by totaling the individual cap hits, then subtracting the contracts of players they will replace on the roster (presumably 7 players at the league minimum $405,000). The net cap cost will reduce the overall available team cap space by $3,283,617 once the the 7 drafted rookies have been signed.
Chris Long's contract restructuring
Chris Long signed an extension with the Rams in 2012 for 5 years/60.310 million. To free up much needed cap space, his contract was restructured on April 23, 2013. The Rams converted 6 million of Long's 13.25 million base salary for the 2013 season into a pro-rated roster bonus. Long still receives the same amount of money as originally scheduled. The restructure is an accounting move for cap purposes only. The conversion of the 6 million in base salary to a roster bonus allowed the Rams to pro-rate the 6 million in equal installments over the remaining years of the contract (4 x 1.5 million). Instead of counting 13.25 million against the salary cap in 2013, Long's contract now counts only 8.75 million against the salary cap for 2013 (freeing up 4.5 million in cap space). The accompanying chart presents Long's entire contract, before and after the restructure.
|Year||Base||Signing Bonus||Roster Bonus||Cap Hit|
The off season roster and salary cap implications
Beginning in 2012, the NFL increased the off season roster limit to 90 players. As of May 27, 2013 the Rams are at that limit. All 32 NFL teams must remain under their adjusted salary cap throughout the year, including the off season (when the roster increases to 90 players). However, during the off season, only the top 51 cap hits and outstanding dead money count against the salary cap. Before the season begins, rosters are reduced to the 53 man limit. At that time, all 53 contracts and outstanding dead money are counted against the salary cap. Of the 90 players currently on the roster, 83 have been signed to a contract. The seven players drafted by the Rams in 2013 have not been signed to contracts as of this writing.
Salary cap reserve
At the beginning of the NFL season, each team must have approximately 2 million in available cap space. This contingency or "reserve" is necessary in the event that a team needs to sign additional players during the season, to compensate for players placed on injured reserve. The Rams s also must pay for practice squad players (8) when the season begins. These minimal salaries will also count against the salary cap.
Observations and conclusions
I have revised my methodology for producing these updates. Although sites such as Rotoworld, OvertheCap and Spotrac provide valuable information regarding contracts, they are unreliable in determining actual cap space figures. Many media types, such as Jim Thomas and Howard Balzer, also provide insight into the Rams contracts and cap space situation; however, not in a detailed fashion. To make these updates as accurate as possible, I now use the Top 51 League Cap Report (provided daily by the NFLPA) as a starting point. The report provides the available cap space figure for each of the NFL's 32 teams. I then work backwards through the individual contracts, cap hits and adjustments to come up with a figure that matches the one provided by the NFLPA.
The Rams current available cap space is 3,522,704. Is this enough to sign the rookies, add two additional contracts (to count 53 contracts instead of 51) by the beginning of the season, and have a season opening cap space reserve? The chart below breaks out the remaining cap space requirements necessary before the start of the regular season.
|Item||Cap Space Required|
|Roster from 51 to 53||810,000|
|Season opening reserve||2,000,000|
|Signing 7 rookies||3,283,617|
|Less available cap space||3,522,704|
|Cap space to be created||2,570,913|
The Rams will need to create 2.6 million in cap space before the beginning of the regular season. This can be accomplished through a number of different measures: roster cuts, minor restructuring of existing contract(s), and rookie contract structuring. Although the Rams have a relatively tight cap space situation at present, it is manageable and they should have little trouble in meeting their requirements before the season begins. It will not be necessary to resort to any drastic measures to create cap space. Conversely, the Rams will likely not be adding any players with contracts that are much above the league minimums. These assertions should be kept in mind when contemplating the Rams re-signing a player such as Quintin Mikell.
Your comments and opinions are welcomed and appreciated. The dog days of summer are almost upon us!