The Rams have the clear-cut best defensive line in the league. Period, end of story.
With four first rounders and several stud backups, it's no longer just Rams fans proclaiming dominance. The NFL has taken notice. The best part is that there will be an opportunity for the Rams to drastically improve the unit this offseason.
Take a moment and dream with me...
The Rams pick 10th in the 2015 Draft. Last year, the Lions picked 10th and their rookie cap pool was around $6M for their picks. The Rams are short a 4th and 6th round pick from the Mark Barron trade, but I'm going to be conservative and allot $8M for their draft pool and undrafted free agents.
According to Over The Cap, the Rams are currently projected to be around $1 million OVER the salary cap next season. It's not hard to follow the math... regardless of whether the Rams pursue free agent signings or not, roster moves are needed.
By pruning the roster of a few injury-prone and ineffective assets and restructuring another financial albatross, they have the ability to have much, much more cap space than that. The 'Financial Foursome' could create nearly $30M in additional cap room.
Move #1 Cut Kendall Langford (Save $6M)
Langford lost his starting job to Aaron Donald early in the 2014 season. Now that says more about Donald than Langford... but it's hard to justify paying $7M for your 3rd DT. He was rumored to be on the way out last year. This year, I expect it to happen. There is no reason to keep a rotational player around on a $7M cap hit.
Move #2 - Cut Wells (Save $3.75M)
A long overdue move along the OL concerns the Rams center. Wells can count himself among the other free agent addition that the Rams have made in recent years that hasn't worked out. Wells has had his moments, but he certainly hasn't played up to the contract that the Rams gave him.
Move #3 - Cut Jake Long (Save $8M)
First, let me say that it pains me to write this. I had high hopes for Jake Long in St Louis, but it just hasn't worked out. With G-Rob at LT for the next 7-10 years and Joe Barksdale able to fill in for a much more reasonable contract, there just isn't room for Long on the OL. There are whispers that Long could move inside and play RG, but I'm not certain that's very realistic.
Move #4 - Restructure Sam Bradford (Save $10.5M)
It's no secret that Fisher wants Bradford back for 2015. The problem is that his cap hit for 2015 season is a monster $16.5M. The big question lies with how much of a pay cut Sammy boy is willing to take. My guess is that the Rams give him a base salary around $6M with escalators in there for playing time and performance.
Cap Space After Moves
If you're still following my math here, the Rams can create $28.25M of cap space with these four moves. When you take into account the $1M the Rams are over the cap, that gives them roughly $27M prior to any roster additions. Lop off the $8M that they need to reserve for the draft class and undrafted free agentsand that leaves a the Rams around $19M for free agent expenditures.
Enter Ndamukong Suh
Imagine a DL of Quinn, Donald, Suh, and Long. With ultra-aggressive Gregg Williams as DC? Are you drooling yet??? If teams didn't want to play the Rams last year... think what adding Suh would do! That being said... it would cost the Rams more than just cap space - likely a J.J. Watt-type contract - to bring him aboard.
First off, it would eliminate the ability to sign an OL in free agency...or anyone else in free agency for that matter. It also means that retaining our own free agents becomes much more difficult. Personally, the only free agent departure that I feel would hurt the Rams next season would be Kenny Britt. With some creative structuring, it's not beyond reason to think that Snead and Demoff could sell Britt on taking a 'discount'... to bring Suh aboard (and to stay with Fisher).
For the sake of argument, let's assume that Britt will sign for $15 over 4 years with the cap hit being $3M next season. Which leaves $16M available.
Now... back to that Suh business. I'm no expert on the Salary cap (that distinction goes to Dubs), but I'm inclined to believe that the Rams front office could structure a 6 year/$100M contract that would meet both Suh's needs and the team's.
Fans thought the second coming of the Fearsome Foursome was created last year, but Suh would emphasize the 'Fear' in more ways than one. It would be the ultimate double down by Fisher. He would take what is already the best DL in the league and make it potentially historical.
How Realistic is This?
In all likelihood, this has minimal chance of happening. But it's possible.
It would be the ultimate luxury signing by a team that can't really afford luxury signings. Is it fun to think about? Absolutely. But if I was a gambling man, I'd put more money on the Rams winning the Super Bowl 50 next year than this happening