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2016 St. Louis Rams Offseason Salary Cap Update

The Rams have many difficult personnel decisions to make in the next couple of months. Many familiar faces will not be in a Rams uniform next season. Today we update the Rams' current financial situation, examine projections for the 2016 NFL Salary Cap and look at how the salary cap will affect the Rams' offseason plans.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL regular season is now in the history books. For a dozen teams, the playoffs lie ahead. For the remaining 20 teams, the focus has shifted to the offseason: Free Agency, offseason programs, front office/coaching changes, the NFL Draft and money managing the salary cap.

2015 Player Contracts & Salary Cap Calculations

The accompanying chart presents the St. Louis Rams’ detailed salary cap position at the conclusion of the regular season. It includes all current contracts, dead money and a breakdown of all related costs used in determining the Rams’ available salary cap space.

Player Position Base Salary Prorated Bonus Other Bonus Cap Hit 2015 Release Savings
Robert Quinn (IR) DE 5,555,555 955,355 10,233,201 16,744,111 2,689,489
Chris Long DE 7,000,000 2,500,000 3,000,000 12,500,000 7,500,000
Jared Cook TE 7,000,000 1,300,441 8,300,441 -600,882
Rodger Saffold (IR) OG 4,250,000 1,000,000 3,000,000 8,250,000 -2,750,000
Lance Kendricks TE 1,500,000 4,100,000 5,600,000 -1,150,000
Greg Robinson OT 1,387,459 3,449,836 4,837,295 -12,576,967
Nick Fairley (IR) DT 2,500,000 2,250,000 4,750,000 3,250,000
William Hayes DE 3,105,000 1,250,000 125,000 4,480,000 3,230,000
Kenny Britt WR 2,550,000 1,750,000 4,300,000 750,000
James Laurinaitis LB 3,625,000 650,000 4,275,000 2,725,000
Nick Foles QB 1,022,000 1,000,000 2,020,000 4,042,000 -7,980,000
Tavon Austin WR 1,564,182 1,913,364 3,477,546 -4,057,137
Michael Brockers DT 1,688,454 1,341,273 3,029,727 0
Akeem Ayers LB 1,250,000 1,671,875 2,921,875 2,921,875
Todd Gurley RB 435,000 2,078,306 2,513,306 -11,309,874
Eugene Sims DE 1,900,000 116,686 375,000 2,391,686 2,275,000
John Hekker P 1,111,111 151,551 1,111,111 2,373,773 -454,655
Mark Barron SS 2,362,704 2,362,704 0
Rodney McLeod FS 2,356,000 2,356,000 2,356,000
Aaron Donald DT 880,750 1,423,000 2,303,750 -5,989,750
Alec Ogletree (IR) LB 1,044,092 873,187 1,917,279 -873,187
Brian Quick WR 1,124,536 589,382 1,713,918 1,124,536
Trumaine Johnson CB 1,542,000 167,794 1,709,794 1,542,000
Janoris Jenkins CB 660,000 517,331 410,498 1,587,829 1,070,498
Cory Harkey TE 1,542,000 1,542,000 1,542,000
Lamarcus Joyner DB 648,644 494,578 1,143,222 -370,512
Garrett Reynolds OL 750,000 249,999 999,999 750,000
Wes Welker WR 456,471 200,000 300,000 956,471 756,471
Jake McQuaide LS 850,000 850,000 550,000
T.J. McDonald (IR) SS 624,426 162,000 786,426 462,426
Greg Zuerlein PK 691,102 32,205 723,307 691,102
Rob Havenstein OT 435,000 286,822 721,822 -1,475,921
Tim Barnes C 660,000 50,017 710,017 660,000
Tre Mason RB 530,035 159,375 689,410 211,285
Maurice Alexander SS 510,000 116,065 626,065 277,870
Jamon Brown (IR) OL 435,000 188,704 623,704 -131,112
Sean Mannion QB 435,000 156,449 591,449 -34,347
Benny Cunningham RB 585,000 3,334 588,334 585,000
Case Keenum QB 585,000 585,000 585,000
Cody Davis FS 585,000 585,000 585,000
Chase Reynolds RB 585,000 585,000 585,000
Daren Bates LB 585,000 585,000 585,000
Andrew Donnal OT 435,000 124,234 559,234 62,298
Ethan Westbrooks DL 510,000 6,666 516,666 503,332
Marcus Roberson CB 510,000 5,000 515,000 505,000
Stedman Bailey (Res/NFI) WR 601,234 127,972 -247,567 481,639 331,795
Cody Wichmann OG 435,000 22,621 457,621 367,137
Bryce Hager MLB 435,000 18,035 453,035 380,895
Demetrius Rhaney C 435,000 11,474 446,474 412,052
Bradley Marquez WR 435,000 2,166 437,166 430,666
Cameron Lynch LB 435,000 666 435,666 433,666
Darrell Williams (IR) OT 435,000 2,500 -47,926 389,324 381,824
E.J. Gaines (IR) CB 510,000 26,918 -177,000 359,918 279,164
Christian Bryant FS 435,000 -76,765 358,235 358,235
Isiah Ferguson (IR) WR 435,000 333 -117,000 318,333 317,333
Eric Kush OL 585,000 -344,188 240,882 240,882
Brian Folkerts OL 585,000 -344,188 240,882 240,882
Matt Longacre DE 435,000 -204,706 230,294 230,294
Isaiah Battle OT 435,000 -255,882 179,118 179,118
Eric Patterson (IR) CB 435,000 -332,647 102,353 102,353
Doug Worthington (IR) DT 510,000 -420,000 90,000 90,000
Louis Trinca-Pasat DT 435,000 -358,235 76,765 76,765
Trey Watts (Res/Susp) RB 510,000 -450,000 60,000 60,000
Nick Toon WR 660,000 -621,176 38,824 38,824
Malcolm Brown RB 435,000 -409,412 25,588 25,588
Troy Hill CB 435,000 -409,412 25,588 25,588
Total Active Contracts 129,688,865
Roster Detail
74 Players Under Contract
53 Players On The Roster
8 Players On Practice Squad
11 Players On Injured Reserve
1 Player On Reserve/Suspended
1 Player On Reserve/NFI
Dead Money
Sam Bradford 3,595,000
Jake Long 2,500,000
Scott Wells 1,000,000
Kendall Langford 1,000,000
Chris Givens 487,081
Isaiah Pead 447,435
Jo-Lonn Dunbar 330,227
Justice Cunningham 243,000
Doug Worthington 162,600
Christian Bryant 158,903
Louis Trinca-Pasat 141,000
Damien Williams 134,118
Barrett Jones 111,300
Malcolm Brown 108,433
Brandon McGee 95,402
Zac Stacy 88,250
Nick Toon 85,800
Zach Hocker 76,764
Eric Patterson 66,000
Isaiah Battle 57,216
Matt Longacre 54,133
Mitchell Van Dyk 45,450
Trey Watts 38,600
Michael Sam 34,422
Garrett Gilbert 29,010
Bud Sasser 28,434
Martin Ifedi 17,774
Trovon Reed 13,200
Austin Franklin 11,667
Phillip Steward 3,334
Alex Bayer 3,333
Imoan Claiborne 1,666
Aaron Hill 1,334
Abasi Salimu 1,334
Jay Hughes 1,333
Zach Laskey 1,000
Montell Garner 833
Terrence Franks 833
Deantre Harlan 667
Kadeem Jones 667
Jarrid Bryant 667
Jamaine Sherman 667
Jacob Hagen 333
Keshaun Malone 333
Tyler Slavin 333
Total Dead Money 11,179,886
Total Salary Cap Hits
Total Active Contracts 129,688,865
Total Dead Money 11,179,886
Practice Squad Salaries 1,249,823
Regular Season Adjustments 546,875
2015 Total Salary Cap Hits 142,665,449
Team Salary Cap
2015 Unadjusted Salary Cap 143,280,000
2015 Salary Cap Rollover 0
2015 Accrued Workout Bonuses 0
2015 Prior Year Adjustments 1,393,387
2015 Adjusted Team Salary Cap 144,673,387
Available Salary Cap Space 2,007,938

Descriptions And Terminology

2015 NFL Salary Cap – The league-wide salary cap (before adjustments) is $143,280,000 for 2015. In December, 2014 the NFL Management Council projected the salary cap to come in at $138.6-$141.8 million. In early January, 2015 I predicted the salary cap would rise to $145 million.

2015 Salary Cap Carryover – The Rams were the only team in the NFL without unused salary cap space to carry over from 2014 to 2015. The Rams did in fact have approximately $700,000 in unused salary cap space at the end of 2014. They chose to net that amount out of year-end salary cap charges related to performance raises and earned incentives. This year, the Rams have close to $2 million in salary cap space available for carryover and/or application against year-end salary cap charges.

Net League Adjustments – Adjustments include proven performance escalators, earned incentives, accrued workout bonuses and carryovers. In addition, the Rams received a $3 million salary cap credit for Cortland Finnegan. The credit was earned as a result of an offset included in the language of Finnegan’s contract with the Rams, and was triggered when Finnegan signed with the Dolphins.

Regular Season Adjustments - Adjustments include salary cap charges for Likely To Be Earned Incentives and game day roster bonuses.

Adjusted Team Salary Cap – The adjusted team salary cap is calculated by taking the league salary cap figure and adding/subtracting carryovers and net league adjustments.

Net "Top-51" Contractual Obligations – In the offseason, only the top 51 contracts in terms of cap hits (plus outstanding dead money) count against the Rams’ adjusted team salary cap.

Current Available Salary Cap Space – Current available salary cap space only takes into account obligations incurred to-date. It doesn’t account for additional financial obligations counting against the salary cap at various times during the year.

Additional Financial Obligations – Are obligations incurred by the Rams at varying times throughout the year. They must be budgeted for, as they count against the salary cap at different times during the year: Practice squad salaries – during the regular season, season-opening reserve – September, signing the rookie draft class – June, and 2 players added to make up the 53-man roster – September.

Available Salary Cap Space - The amount of money the Rams have remaining to spend on player contract obligations, without exceeding the salary cap. The calculation to determine the available salary cap space is: the dollar amount of the adjusted salary cap, less the total dollar value of current active contracts (cap hits) less any "dead money".

Dead Money - The amount of money counting as cap hits in the current year, for players that are no longer with the team. These amounts consist of guaranteed money/bonuses/prorated amounts outstanding for 2015 (in some cases beyond 2015).

Salary Cap Figure (Hit) - Any contractual obligation counting against the salary cap in a particular year. It's the sum of a players base salary, signing and/or other bonuses, and any incentives/escalators deemed to be earned.

The Salary Cap - The maximum amount a team can have in total cap hits, plus dead money, without incurring penalties imposed by the NFL. These penalties can be financial in nature and/or include the loss of draft picks.

Signing/Prorated vs Other Bonuses - A signing bonus can be defined in its literal sense. The signing bonus is spread out - prorated for cap purposes - evenly over the life of a contract. Other bonuses include roster, incentive, option, etc. bonuses that occur in different years of a contract, and in varying amounts.

Accrued Workout Bonuses - Are adjustments charged by the league, reducing a teams available salary cap space. These bonuses reduced the Rams' salary cap space by $506,600 on March 11. The Rams were credited back the entire amount in the first week of September. From the 2011 CBA:

"...all players will earn $175 a day for each day they participate in 2013. That per day number changes every other year, with the next increase slated for 2015. The NFL charges each team at the start of the 2015 league year a cap fee of $506,600 for minimum workouts on top of the contracted bonuses, so any reported cap space number between now and the start of the regular season needs to be reduced by $504,000. At the end of the workout period teams have their salary cap credited for money that was not earned."

Prior Year Adjustments - The league adjusts/charges a teams' current year salary cap for player incentives and performance escalators earned in the previous year.

Unadjusted Salary Cap - The base salary cap amount ($143.28 million in 2015) for each of the 32 NFL teams.

Adjusted Team Salary Cap - The actual salary cap (after adjustments) for a particular team in the current league year. Each team will have a different figure for cap purposes.

Roster Detail - Currently, there are 72 players under contract for 2015. Contracts run concurrently with the league year.

Methodology - To derive salary cap figures and information, two main sources are used: the NFLPA and the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NFLPA only publishes team salary cap details as team totals. Once the totals are established, I then compile information for individual contracts, ensuring they collectively add up to match the NFLPA totals. At last count, 83 sources have been used to compile data on the Rams' individual contracts.

2016 NFL Salary Cap

On December 1, 2015 (at the NFL owners meetings), the NFL Management Council announced an estimate of the NFL league-wide salary cap for 2016:

The NFL league office is notorious for underestimating the following years salary cap at their December meetings. A lower estimate discourages team salary cap managers and executives from spending too much money on long-term contracts before the actual salary cap figures are announced in late February. At the December 2014 meetings, the owners were given an estimate of $138.6 million-$141.8 million for the 2015 salary cap. The actual figure (announced in late February, 2015) was $143.28 million.

The stable, continued growth of television contract revenues throughout the life of the current CBA ensures similar growth in the salary cap from year-to-year. With that in mind, I estimate the 2016 salary cap will come in at $155 million when announced in February.

Compliance with the minimum cash spending requirements of the 2011 CBA could have an impact on how much money is spent by teams this offseason. The minimum cash spending requirement is in relation to the salary cap "floor" instituted in the new CBA. The final eight years of the CBA are broken out into four-year periods (2013-2016 and 2017-2020). In each period, teams are required to spend up to 89% of the salary cap with a guaranteed league-wide spending amount reaching 95%.

The consequences for non-compliance with the minimum cash spending requirements? The league/clubs must pay the difference to the players. Compliance will likely put upward pressure on salary commitments and increase demand for players in Free Agency this offseason.

St. Louis Rams' 2016 Offseason Salary Cap Space

The Rams currently have 44 players under contract for 2016, with salary cap hits totalling close to $114 million. In addition, the Rams will incur the following estimated costs counting against the salary cap in 2016:

Consideration (Estimated) Cost ($)
Net League Adjustments 2,500,000
Net Cost Of Signing Rookies 3,000,000
Season-Opening Reserve 3,300,000
Practice Squad Salaries 1,200,000
Total Cost 10,000,000

As noted, my estimate for the 2016 league-wide salary cap is $155 million. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Rams will also carry over approximately $2 million in salary cap space from 2015 to 2016 (making the Rams' Adjusted Team Salary Cap $157 million).

The Rams will have an estimated $33 million ($157M less $124M) in Available Salary Cap Space this offseason for re-signing their own Free Agents and/or Free Agents from other teams. If the Rams can successfully structure their new contracts without backloading them, they will likely be able to re-sign as many of their own Free Agents as desired.

St. Louis Rams 2016 Free Agents

The following 28 players are currently eligible for Free Agency in 2016 (after this season). ERFA's (Exclusive Rights Free Agents) have two or less accrued years in the league. RFA's (Restricted Free Agents) have three accrued years in the league. UFA's (Unrestricted Free Agents) have 4 or more accrued years in the league. In each instance, their contracts will have been fulfilled at the end of this season. Each type of Free Agent designation is accompanied by a certain level of team control. Included in the chart is an estimate of what each player can expect to earn (average per year) in their next contract. Who will the Rams attempt to re-sign?

Position Player FA Status Avg. Per Year
QB Case Keenum RFA 2,500,000
RB Benny Cunningham RFA 1,250,000
RB Chase Reynolds RFA 1,200,000
RB Malcolm Brown ERFA 525,000
TE Cory Harkey UFA 2,000,000
WR Brian Quick UFA 1,500,000
WR Wes Welker UFA 1,000,000
WR Nick Toon ERFA 525,000
C Tim Barnes UFA 750,000
OT Isaiah Battle ERFA 525,000
OL Eric Kush ERFA 525,000
OL Brian Folkerts ERFA 525,000
K Greg Zuerlein UFA 1,750,000
DT Nick Fairley UFA 4,500,000
DT Doug Worthington ERFA 525,000
DT Louis Trinca-Pasat ERFA 525,000
DE Eugene Sims UFA 2,000,000
DE William Hayes UFA 6,250,000
DE Matt Longacre ERFA 525,000
OLB Daren Bates RFA 1,100,000
CB Janoris Jenkins UFA 9,000,000
CB Trumaine Johnson UFA 7,250,000
CB Eric Patterson ERFA 525,000
CB Troy Hill ERFA 525,000
SS Mark Barron UFA 4,250,000
FS Rodney McLeod UFA 3,250,000
FS Christian Bryant ERFA 525,000
FS Cody Davis RFA 875,000

Decisions, Decisions

The Rams will have many difficult decisions to make this off season. Some of those decisions will likely involve players listed among their 2015 top dozen salary cap hits:

  • Nick Fairley becomes an UFA after the season. Has Fairley accomplished enough on his one year prove-it deal to warrant a longer term contract with the Rams?
  • Chris Long missed 4 games this season due to injury, after missing 10 games in 2014 with an injury. Long will be 31 and counts $14.25 million against the Rams' salary cap in 2016 (the final year of his contract). Will the Rams part ways with Long, or work out a small extension, reducing his 2016 salary cap hit in the process?
  • The inconsistent Jared Cook has an $8.3 million salary cap hit in 2016. Will the Rams negotiate a pay cut with Cook, release him outright (cap savings of $5.7M in 2016) or leave the contract as it is?
  • The oft-injured Rodger Saffold missed 11 games this season due to a shoulder injury. Saffold may become a salary cap casualty in the offseason. His release would create $3 million in salary cap savings for 2016.
  • William Hayes becomes an UFA after the season. Hayes has played more snaps this season because of injuries to Chris Long and Robert Quinn. He's a quality performer who represents great value for the Rams. They'll make every attempt to re-sign Hayes this offseason.
  • Kenny Britt has had his ups and downs since joining the Rams in 2014. Britt will carry a $4.85 million salary cap hit in 2016. Depending on ones perspective, that salary cap hit could be considered a relative bargain...or an extravagance.
  • James Laurinaitis' salary cap hit rises to $6.425 million in 2016 (from $4.275M in 2015). Laurinaitis is a better-than-average MLB and team leader. Could he become a cap casualty this offseason? If the Rams re-sign Mark Barron, they could decide to move Alec Ogletree inside (his college position) and have Barron, Ogletree and Ayers as their starting LB's.
  • A month ago, I took a look at "The Implications Of Nick Foles' Contract Extension". If the Rams release Foles after the season, they will only save $750,000 against the salary cap. Will the Rams keep Foles through 2016?

For salary cap information updated on a weekly basis, please visit my website: Rams In Perspective.