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Rams salary cap situation and a potential workaround

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The St. Louis Rams do not have much available room toward the $120 million NFL salary cap this year. In an email conversation with ESPN's Mike Sando, he confirmed that the Rams have approximately $12 million in cap space, as things stand right now. How will this impact their free agent targets? Is there anything that can be done to free up more cap space?

Let's tackle the last question first. The biggest hits to the Rams' salary cap come from bonuses and salaries due to their last three first round picks. Sam Bradford has an $18 million bonus due this year. Jason Smith takes up a hefty chunk at $8.5 million. Chris Long's outstanding play triggered some bonuses, $19 million worth to be exact. He counts for $13.5 million against the cap this year. 

There might be some opportunity to realize some addition cap savings with Chris Long's contract. Long is due for free agency after the 2012 season. As Football Outsiders suggests, restructuring his contract while inking him to a long-term deal would free up cap space to make a run at free agents this year. Perhaps they could work out a deal like the ungodly one given to DE Charles Johnson by the Panthers today, with a guaranteed $32 million. Long may not be worth quite the same level of a deal, but Johnson has now set the market for defensive ends. 

And what about the others mentioned restructuring? It's way too early to ask Bradford to do that, in just his second season. No agent worth their salt would let that happen. Smith might be a different story, but since this is just his third season, it seems unlikely. 

Someone suggested the possibility of working with the pricey deals for Jason Brown and Jacob Bell. Maybe. Restructuring those deals would be possible, freeing up cap space, but their price would go up given what the market is paying for interior linemen right now. Cut them? No way. Bell is the Rams best lineman right now, and they don't have the depth to replace those two and Adam Goldberg. 

And just how much would those free agent targets like Darren Sproles and Barry Cofield cost? Here's out look from last week