Barring some unexpected stay of execution from owner Stan Kroenke, the St. Louis Rams will most likely be making some changes after the season. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney, the General Manager, will probably be replaced. Exactly who will replace both men remains to be seen, but according to Peter King at Sports Illustrated, the job opening in St. Louis could be the most attractive vacancy in the NFL.
Why would the St. Louis job be such a desirable landing spot after a house cleaning? Simple, they have a franchise quarterback in place and one of the better salary cap situations among all 32 teams in the immediate future.
The Rams have a very real shot at the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, a spot that has been preordained for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. St. Louis already has Sam Bradford, and despite his struggles or garbage time chatter on sports talk radio, he's a very good quarterback who should rebound into form next season. Having that pick, however, could translate into a bounty of other picks from teams looking to trade. King estimates that it could be worth three first round picks. That's more than a few chances to add prime players to a depleted roster.
As far as the salary cap goes, past high draft picks have left the Rams little in the way of cap space. In an interview I did with Rams COO Kevin Demoff back in October, he estimated that the Rams would have about $10 million in cap space for 2012. They will have some flexibility. I expect them to find any way possible to deal with the albatross that is Jason Smith's contract. Steven Jackson's $7 million deal could be a target as well.
All of that changes in 2013 when the Rams are expected to have between $40-45 million in cap space as those rookie deals come off the books. That, as they say, is an awful lot of cannoli. Things could get really interesting in 2014, because that's when the league's lucrative new broadcast contracts take effect, netting an estimated $7 bill per year in television rights fees alone. Many foresee the league's salary cap moving beyond the $150 million mark thanks to those television revenues.
As for which candidates may be lining up for the job(s) at Rams Park, we'll have to wait and see. A couple names that surfaced on the rumor mill recently included current Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith and former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, according to a report from the San Diego Union Tribune.
You'll want to keep your New Year's hangover in check. Black Monday is Jan. 2 this year, and with all that's expected to happen with the St. Louis Rams, you'll need all of your facilities to process an avalanche of news.