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2016 Los Angeles Rams: Salary Cap Update - Free Agency Edition

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?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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
Robert Quinn DE 7,777,777 955,354 2,424,242 11,157,373 5,867,065
Nick Foles QB 1,750,000 1,000,000 6,000,000 8,750,000 750,000
Michael Brockers DT 6,146,000 0 0 6,146,000 6,146,000
Greg Robinson OT 2,354,918 3,449,836 0 5,804,754 -6,772,213
Rodger Saffold OG 4,500,000 1,000,000 156,250 5,656,250 2,656,250
Kenny Britt WR 3,600,000 0 1,250,000 4,850,000 4,850,000
Lance Kendricks TE 3,250,000 1,250,000 4,500,000 3,250,000
Tavon Austin WR 2,143,773 1,913,364 4,057,137 0
Akeem Ayers OLB 2,000,000 1,300,000 3,300,000 3,300,000
Todd Gurley RB 1,063,326 2,078,306 3,141,632 -8,168,242
Aaron Donald DT 1,341,500 1,423,000 2,764,500 -3,225,250
John Hekker P 2,444,444 151,551 2,595,995 2,141,340
Alec Ogletree OLB 675,000 873,187 688,638 2,236,825 1,363,638
Garrett Reynolds OL 1,050,000 950,021 2,000,021 2,000,021
Lamarcus Joyner DB 877,289 494,578 1,371,867 352,711
Rob Havenstein OT 615,455 286,822 902,277 -286,822
Tim McDonald Jr. SS 730,037 162,000 892,037 730,037
Jake McQuaide LS 775,000 100,000 875,000 675,000
Stedman Bailey WR 690,123 127,972 818,095 690,123
Tre Mason RB 641,146 159,375 800,521 481,771
Jamon Brown OG 575,575 188,704 764,279 198,167
Sean Mannion QB 582,285 156,449 738,734 269,387
Maurice Alexander SS 600,000 116,065 716,065 483,935
Eric Kush C 675,000 675,000 675,000
David Arkin OG 675,000 675,000 675,000
Andrew Donnal OT 525,000 124,234 649,234 276,532
E.J. Gaines CB 600,000 26,918 626,918 573,082
Demetrius Rhaney C 600,000 11,474 611,474 588,526
Ethan Westbrooks DT 600,000 6,668 606,668 600,000
Marcus Roberson CB 600,000 5,000 605,000 600,000
Trey Watts RB 600,000 600,000 600,000
Doug Worthington DT 600,000 600,000 600,000
Nick Toon WR 600,000 600,000 600,000
Justice Cunningham TE 600,000 600,000 600,000
Cody Wichmann OG 525,000 22,621 547,621 479,758
Bryce Hager MLB 525,000 18,035 543,035 488,930
Darrell Williams OT 525,000 2,500 527,500 522,500
Bradley Marquez WR 525,000 2,166 527,166 522,832
Cameron Lynch OLB 525,000 666 525,666 524,332
Christian Bryant FS 525,000 525,000 525,000
Louis Trinca-Pasat DT 525,000 525,000 525,000
Matt Longacre DE 525,000 525,000 525,000
Eric Patterson CB 525,000 525,000 525,000
Isaiah Battle OT 525,000 525,000 525,000
Troy Hill CB 525,000 525,000 525,000
Isiah Ferguson WR 450,000 333 450,333 449,666
Malcolm Brown RB 450,000 450,000 450,000
Zack Hodges OLB 450,000 450,000 450,000
Zach Laskey FB 450,000 450,000 450,000
Matthew Wells OLB 450,000 450,000 450,000
Deon Long WR 450,000 450,000 450,000
Kain Colter QB 450,000 450,000 450,000
Total Active Contracts 90,659,977
Total Top 51 Contracts 90,209,977
Roster Detail
52 Players Under Contract
Dead Money
Jared Cook 2,600,882
Chris Long 2,500,000
James Laurinaitis 900,000
Isaiah Battle 124,125
Barrett Jones 111,300
Bud Sasser 85,302
Martin Ifedi 53,332
Brandon McGee 47,790
Louis Trinca-Pasat 10,000
Malcolm Brown 5,667
Alex Bayer 3,334
Imoan Claiborne 3,334
Jay Hughes 2,667
Matt Longacre 2,667
Zach Laskey 2,000
Trey Watts 2,000
Terrence Franks 1,667
Montell Garner 1,667
Tyler Slavin 667
Keshaun Malone 667
Jacob Hagen 667
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:

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

Consideration $ Amounts
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
Season-Opening Reserve $3,000,000
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