Similar to what I did earlier with the free agents piece, this is just intended to be a quick look at the St. Louis Rams' cap situation in 2014. We'll be getting much deeper into the subject as free agency and the draft get closer.
RIght now the 2014 salary cap is projected to be around $126 million, continuing the trend of very small increases since the 2011 CBA was signed (you have to believe the NFLPA would like a do-over on that deal). The Rams have roughly $126 million in cap commitments for 2014.
As many needs as the Rams have, it's hard to see another big free agent deal coming this year. In 2012, they brought in Cortland Finnegan, and last year's pricey free agent additions included Jake Long and Jared Cook. They'll almost have to make cuts to bolster the defense, not to mention to sign a pair of first-round picks, but the financial realities make it hard to see another deal on the scale of those three.
Okay, the 10 biggest cap hits for 2014 are:
|Player||Cap value||Dead money||Savings|
|Sam Bradford, QB||$17.61MM||$7.19MM||$10.42MM|
|Chris Long, DE||$14.9MM||$17.7MM||($2.8MM)|
|James Laurinaitis, LB||$10.4MM||$10.2MM||$200,000|
|Jake Long, OT||$9.25MM||$7.75MM||$1.5MM|
|Jared Cook, TE||$7MM||$12MM||($5MM)|
|Scott Wells, C||$6.5MM||$2MM||$4.5MM|
|Kendall Langford, DT||$6MM||$2MM||$4MM|
|Harvey Dahl, OG||$4MM||$0||$4MM|
|William Hayes, DE||$3.85MM||$2.5MM||$1.345MM|
Those 10 players and their contracts account for roughly 71 percent of the Rams total cap value in 2014. Compare that the 49ers, whose top 10 cap hits account for 54 percent of their total cap value for 2014. No player on the Niners is currently scheduled to count more than $9 million against the cap in 2014. The Seahawks are much closer to the Rams with their top 10 cap hits making up roughly 69 percent of their cap total. They have two players with contracts that count more than $10 million against the cap: Percy Harvin at $13.4 million and Russell Okung at $11.2 million. I still contend the Harvin trade was a mistake for Seattle, but their cap flexibility allowed them to make that move.
Chris Long and Bradford are the second- and third-highest cap hits in the NFC West for 2014. Only Larry Fitzgerald carries a bigger number at $18 million.
The Rams have five players with cap hits exceeding $9 million in 2014; only the Pittsburgh Steelers can boast as many (which is a pretty good argument against being top heavy). The Rams have four players with cap hits exceeding $10 million; the Ravens , Jets and Steelers are the only other teams that also have four players commanding cap hits of $10 million or more.
The next question you have to ask when looking at the highest paid players on the team is the production level. Dahl, Finnegan and Wells are prime targets for cuts because the production doesn't match the cap hit. Sam Bradford's production doesn't match his cap hit either, but this isn't the time or place to get into that.