The Rams have already made modifications to their coaching staff and home city this offseason. But the fireworks are just getting started as they have a multitude of impact players that could be playing elsewhere in 2016. Let's take a look at who could be a cap casualty as the new league year draws close.
2016 Savings are provided in parenthesis courtesy of Over the Cap.
Chris Long ($11.75M)
Long has been the emotional leader of the Rams defense for pretty much his entire career. That being said, he's missed significant time the past two seasons due to injury and simply isn't worth his $14.25M 2016 salary. He's 31 and on the back end of his career, but has expressed a desire to remain with the team.
Personally, it's hard for me to imagine the Rams without Long in 2016. I believe that the front office will work something out with him, but if negotiations go south, Long could be playing elsewhere next season.
Jared Cook ($5.7M)
Do I really need to justify this?
Verdict: Get the Fuck Outta Here
Rodger Saffold ($3M)
Saffold is a solid guard with experience at multiple positions, but he just can't stay healthy. It would cost the Rams $3M in dead money, but the team should probably move on from the former Hoosier. I wouldn't say no to having him around on a team friendly deal as a mentor for the youngsters along the OL, but - as the Raiders showed a few years ago - someone will overpay for his talents.
Lance Kendricks ($3.25M)
Kendricks is a solid - if unspectacular - player. He still has his moments as a receiver (especially when he has a torn thumb ligament), but he has become a pretty well rounded player. He fits the Fisherball TE mold much better than the aforementioned Cook and comes at a much more affordable price.
Verdict - STAY
Greg Robinson (NONE)
The stark reality here is that the Rams are stuck. Regardless of how bad his regression was in 2015, 2 years isn't enough time to evaluate him. If the Rams would accelerate all future bonuses to the coming league year, they'd lose roughly $7M in cap space.
Verdict - STAY
Kenny Britt ($4.85M)
Tavon Austin is a far superior all-around player, but from a purely receiving standpoint, Britt is the best that the Rams have. I'm generally not a fan of Britt, but I also understand that getting rid of the best receiver on the worst offense in the NFL isn't very wise.
That being said, 1 bomb a game doesn't justify the status as the Rams #1 WR. Britt would be much better suited as a #2 or #3 WR. As a reference to his hit or miss play, Britt gained 37% of his yards on 5 catches. That's just not going to cut it as a #1 WR - but then again it's no secret that the Rams need help in that department.
Verdict - STAY... but also upgrade
James Laurinaitis ($5.25M)
JL55 has been the consummate pro during his time with the Rams. He's played through injury, been a leader on and off the field, and has worked his way into the Rams record book. But the harsh reality is that he is limited in coverage and comes with a nearly $6.5M sticker for 2016. The Rams could replace his production at a much reduced rate next season.
Verdict - Painful but GO
Nick Foles ($750K)
The extension that the Rams gave Foles last year is really biting them in the ass now. Due to the way that it's structured, the Rams are stuck here. They would only save about $750K by moving on and he has more ability than any other QB on the roster.
The QB position is a sticky situation for the Rams. They've announced Keenum as the starter for 2016 though he's the only QB of the group NOT under contract. No one has any clue what Mannion is going to bring to the team. And Foles is stuck because of his salary.
Give the group some WRs to work with in 2016 and see what happens.....
Verdict - STAY...but re-evaluate frequently
Akeem Ayers ($3M)
Ayers was brought in to complement JL55 and Alec Ogletree last offseason. But when 'Tree went down with a broken leg, it wasn't Ayers who stepped up, but Mark Barron. He did nothing to impress me. The Rams could use his $3M salary better elsewhere.
Verdict - GO
Tre Mason ($480K)
Mason has the talent, but has found himself fumbling away his opportunities. He has the potential to be a solid compliment to Todd Gurley, but so does Benny Cunningham. I think that Tre could find himself on the trade block this offseason a la Zac Stacy, but as a cap casualty cutting him makes little sense.
Verdict - STAY
Potential Cap Space
According to the fine folks at Over the Cap, the Rams currently have $32.6M in cap space in 2016. If Chris Long takes a moderate pay cut to stay with the team, Les Snead could easily free up another $20M in cap space, bringing the Rams total to $52.6M.
While the Rams have a lot of their own talent they need to work to retain and need to set aside funds for the 2016 draft class and practice squad, that's still a lot of Cheddar to work with.