clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why The Rams Restructured Chris Long's and Austin Pettis' Contracts

The regular season salary cap rules take effect on September 4. In anticipation of incurring additional salary cap costs throughout the regular season, the Rams restructured the contracts of Chris Long and Austin Pettis.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, September 3-4 are important dates for NFL teams with respect to the salary cap:

"September 3: 4:00 p.m. - New York time - is the deadline for all NFL player contracts, practice player contracts, tender offers, and miscellaneous amounts to fit within each club’s 2014 salary cap, in anticipation of the midnight expiration of the Top-51 Rule. At midnight, off season salary cap rules change to regular season salary cap rules."

"September 4: At 12:00 a.m. - New York time - the Top-51 Rule expires for all NFL clubs. The Top-51 rule is explained in an earlier salary cap article for TST (link)."

In anticipation of the deadline, the Rams - in need of salary cap space - restructured the contracts of Chris Long and Austin Pettis. On Tuesday, the Rams had $1,748,376 in salary cap space. Why did the Rams need to create additional salary cap space, when they already appeared to be in compliance with the changeover to the regular season salary cap rules? I explained the reasons why in a complete salary cap update, published in April:

  1. During the offseason, only the top 51 contracts count against the salary cap. As of September 3'rd, all contracts count against the salary cap. The roster expands to 53 players for the regular season. In the Rams' case, this meant adding $840,000 - 2 x $420,000 - in salaries counting against the salary cap.
  2. The Rams must pay practice squad salaries during the regular season totalling $1,071,000 (10 x $107,100). All practice squad salaries count against the salary cap.
  3. During the season, salaries for players placed on Injured Reserve still count against the teams salary cap. The team must replace these players on the roster. The players added to the roster also count against the Rams' salary cap. The Rams usually attempt to have a minimum reserve of $3 million, as a contingency in the event of injuries.
  4. The total estimated additional operating costs: $4,911,000. The Rams were credited with $504,000 for accrued workout bonuses on Thursday, leaving the estimated additional operating costs at $4,407,000.

After the Long/Pettis restructures - and additional league accounting procedures related to injury settlements, accrued workout bonuses, and Stedman Bailey's reduced cap hit due to his suspension - the Rams now have $4,557,033 in salary cap space (with all contracts counting against the cap). This figure is the lowest in the league.

The Rams salary cap situation is still very tight. If they incur an inordinate amount of injuries during the regular season, the Rams will be faced with the same predicament as last year, when Chris Long's contract was restructured in December to create $200,000 in salary cap space. The Rams needed the additional monies to remain cap compliant through the end of the regular season.

I will be publishing a complete salary cap update within the next week.