Reports of teams undertaking cost cutting measures at the expense of front office staff and coaches are becoming a special sub-genre of NFL lockout coverage, sort of those "how we live now" pieces in every newspaper during the worst of the recession. Reports of the Arizona Cardinals instituting unpaid furloughs for staff starting next week hit the web today, and at least 11 other teams have admitted publicly that coaches and staff will take pay cuts. The St. Louis Rams are one of those teams.
There are no reports of what kind of pay cuts the Rams staff, and who on that staff, will suffer. Early reports confirmed only that assistant coaches would suffer pay cuts. Surely, the big cats would have to take a little hit too, it would only be consistent with Steve Spagnuolo's and the Rams "team-first" approach that's produced results on the field. Also unknown is when those pay cuts would take effect.
Season tickets sales, typically the main source of revenue for teams this time of year, are sagging. That's what drove the Dolphins to make such a move. Of course, the irony here is that season ticket sales are slack because of the lockout.
As you might expect, pay cuts among staff and coaches are causing some tension with owners. According to at least one report, those employees are rooting against the owners in the upcoming court decision so that they can get back to playing football and receiving their full paychecks.
That tension probably translates into nothing, barring some an extended lockout that loses the entire season. Spagnuolo and GM Billy Devaney haven't been working with the Rams' new owner very long anyway. The more palpable tension will arise in how pay cuts are distributed.
What is interesting to think about here is that both Steve Spagnuolo and new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have contracts that both end after the 2012 season. McDaniels' $2 million per year deal is consistent with other coordinators with his experience, but Spagnuolo is working relatively cheap, a paltry $3 million per season. For comparison, Pete Carroll is making $7 million per and Ken Whisenhunt is making $5.75 million. It's widely believed that Josh McDaniels will bolt after his deal his up for a head coaching job (it's not always that easy though). But what about Spagnuolo? I suspect if he takes this team places in the next two years, as is expected of him, he could be in demand...but surely the Rams would pay up to keep him.