One of the constant facts about the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks we've heard over and over (and over and over) again is their salary cap situation, vis-a-vis Russell Wilson's contract and a host of young, late-round picks dotting the roster. Here at TST, we've had plenty of conversations about the St. Louis Rams and their salary cap situation. So let's tie the two threads together, if for no other reason than some perspective.
Albert Breer of NFL Network was tweeting out the totals of the top five 2014 cap hits for last season's playoff teams. It was an interesting, meta-level view of where those teams stand heading into next season. The Rams are expected to be a playoff team in 2014 too, so let's take a look at where they stand in the mix, using Breer's top five classification for top heaviness.
Alright, so I took a look at the highest '14 cap numbers for the playoff teams. Will tweet out Top 5 cap figures for each, plus the total.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 7, 2014
Hopefully, this gives you an idea where money is being spent, and how teams are structured salary-wise (top-heavy or not, etc.).— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 7, 2014
There's the explanation from Breer. Here are those teams ranked, with the most and least "top heavy" teams listed below that (I put the rest of Breer's tweets at the bottom of this post).
On those figures, most top-heavy $-wise to least 1) NO, 2) KC, 3) SEA, 4) DEN, 5) GB, 6) NE, 7) CAR, 8) SD, 9) PHI, 10) CIN, 11) SF, 12) IND— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 7, 2014
What about the Rams' top five cap hits for 2014? Here they are, in order:
1. Sam Bradford, $17.61 million
2. Chris Long, $14.9 million
3. James Laurinaitis, $10.4 million
4. Cortland Finnegan, $10 million
5. Jake Long, $9.25 million
Total: $62.16 million
That's more than any team on Breer's list. And, assuming a cap of $126 million, that represents 49.3 percent of the team's total cap costs. In other words, that's huge.
If the Rams cut Cortland Finnegan (and they probably should), that moves Jared Cook and his $7 million cap hit onto the list, bringing the top five total down by $3 million. Still pretty top heavy thanks to those big contracts at the very top.
Obviously, for the Saints, Drew Brees' cap hit is an issue ... but it's less than $1 million more than Sam Bradford's cap hit. If there's any quarterback you can justify an $18 million cap hit for, it's Brees. But it's still burdensome. Six of the teams here, half of them, have quarterbacks drafted since the 2011 CBA went into place, slashing rookie salaries for the top picks.
A boat load of draft picks in the wake of the 2012 trade (not to mention the steal they're getting for Robert Quinn's rookie contract) is a real silver lining for the Rams. However, they're going to have to start finding replacements among those picks for the hefty contracts at the top of this list ... because raises are coming for players Quinn, etc.
NEW ENGLAND ($49.59M) ... Tom Brady: $14.8M; Vince Wilfork: $11.6M; Logan Mankins: $10.5M; Jerod Mayo: $7.29M; Rob Gronkowski: $5.4M.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 7, 2014