With the release of James Laurinaitis, Chris Long and Jared Cook last Friday, the Rams cleared close to $23 million in salary cap space. The new league year (and Free Agency) opens on March 9. What does the Rams' financial position look like heading into the new league year?
2016 Player Contracts & Salary Cap Calculations
The accompanying chart presents the Los Angeles Rams’ detailed current offseason salary cap position as of February 24, 2016. It includes all current contracts, dead money and a breakdown of all related costs used in determining the Rams’ available salary cap space for 2016. It also includes all 10 of the Rams' ERFA's and the six players who were signed to reserve/future contracts in December.
|Player||Position||Base Salary||Prorated Bonus||Other Bonus||Cap Hit||Release Savings|
|Tim McDonald Jr.||SS||730,037||162,000||892,037||730,037|
|Total Active Contracts||90,659,977|
|Total Top 51 Contracts||90,209,977|
|52 Players Under Contract|
|Total Dead Money||6,459,735|
|Total Salary Cap Hits|
|Total Top 51 Contracts||90,209,977|
|Total Dead Money||6,459,735|
|2016 Total Salary Cap Hits||96,669,712|
|Team Salary Cap|
|2016 Unadjusted Salary Cap (Est.)||155,000,000|
|2016 Salary Cap Rollover||2,178,544|
|2016 Accrued Workout Bonuses||0|
|2016 Prior Year Adjustments||0|
|2015 Adjusted Team Salary Cap||157,178,544|
|Available Salary Cap Space||60,508,832|
Descriptions And Terminology
2016 NFL Salary Cap – The league-wide salary cap has not yet been determined for 2016.
2016 Salary Cap Carryover – The Rams have $2,178,544 million in salary cap space available for carryover and/or application against year-end salary cap charges from 2015.
Net League Adjustments – Adjustments include proven performance escalators, earned incentives and accrued workout bonuses.
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 2016 (in some cases beyond 2016).
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 will reduce the Rams' salary cap space by $506,600 on March 9. 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. As noted, I expect the 2016 league-wide salary cap to come in at $155 million.
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 52 players under contract for 2016 (this figure presumes the re-signing of all ERFA's). Contracts run concurrently with the league year. The new league year begins on March 9.
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:
Club executives and cap managers given projection for 2016 salary cap today: $147 million-$153 million.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 1, 2015
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. In addition, the NFLPA recently won a case against the NFL (re withholding up to $120 million in shared revenue). It could add an estimated $1.5 million to each teams 2016 salary cap. With all of that in mind, I estimate the 2016 salary cap will come in at $155 million when announced in late 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 52 players under contract for 2016, with salary cap hits totalling close to $96.7 million. In addition, the Rams will incur the following estimated costs counting against the salary cap in 2016:
Consideration (Estimated) Cost ($) Net League Adjustments 1,700,000 Net Cost Of Signing Rookies 3,000,000 Season-Opening Reserve 3,000,000 Roster From 51 To 53 1,100,000 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 $2,178,544 million in salary cap space from 2015 to 2016 (making the Rams' Adjusted Team Salary Cap $157,178,544 million).
The Rams will have an estimated $50.5 million ($157.2M less $106.7M) 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.
The so-called salary cap experts rarely, if ever, account for these additional costs in determining available salary cap space. You can be certain Kevin Demoff accounts for/factors in every penny that is (and will be) spent in 2016.
2016 Los Angeles Rams Salary Cap Summary
|2016 NFL Salary Cap (est.)||$155,000,000|
|Plus: Los Angeles Rams 2015 Salary Cap Carryover||$2,178,544|
|Los Angeles Rams Adjusted Team Salary Cap||$157,178,544|
|Less: All 2016 Contractual Obligations||$96,669,712|
|Los Angeles Rams Current Available Salary Cap Space||$60,508,832|
|Less: Additional 2016 Financial Obligations (est.):|
|Practice Squad Salaries||$1,200,000|
|Roster To 53 Players From 51||$1,100,000|
|Net League Adjustments||$1,700,000|
|NET Cost Of Signing Rookie Draft Class||$3,000,000|
|Total 2016 Additional Financial Obligations (est.)||$10,000,000|
|Los Angeles Rams Actual 2016 Available Salary Cap Space (est.)||$50,508,832|
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 (the Rams have total control over these players). 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 3,500,000 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 4,750,000 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 10,000,000 CB Trumaine Johnson UFA 9,250,000 CB Eric Patterson ERFA 525,000 CB Troy Hill ERFA 525,000 SS Mark Barron UFA 4,750,000 FS Rodney McLeod UFA 3,650,000 FS Christian Bryant ERFA 525,000 FS Cody Davis RFA 875,000