Our friends over at Pride of Detroit, the SB Nation community for fans of the Detroit Lions, had a good piece yesterday on three top potential cap casualties they could cut to open up some spending with free agency set to to open on March 9.
Teams with the ability to create the most cap space via cuts-— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) February 14, 2017
Nonetheless, there are still some moves the Rams could make to spread things up a bit. Here are a few to consider in order of cap savings:
OLB Alec Ogletree
2017 cap hit: $8.37 million
Savings: $8.37 million
The Rams exercised Ogletree’s fifth-year option last May on the same day they did the same for fellow 2013 NFL Draft first-round pick WR Tavon Austin; what they didn’t do was re-sign Ogletree to a long-term extension which is exactly what they did do with Austin in August. So whereas Austin enters the 2017 season with more than $11m in guaranteed money, Ogletree is on his option with none of it guaranteed and all of it available for cap space.
It would certainly be a radical move given how thin the Rams are at linebacker. There’s no certainty that Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has plans for his front seven that lean on Ogletree as much as former Head Coach Jeff Fisher and DC Gregg Williams did though.
No contract on the books offers as much cap space as Ogletree’s would were he released.
DE Robert Quinn
2017 cap hit: $10.75 million
Savings: $5.21 million
The performance questions here are perhaps more intense than Ogletree. The injury concerns certainly are.
In 2013, Quinn was one of the best defenders in the NFL racking up 19 sacks and forcing seven fumbles. He was relatively unblockable.
The last two years, though, have seen Quinn hobbled by injuries that have limited his playing time and output. Two seasons ago, Quinn missed half the season ultimately ending up on IR and requiring back surgery. Last season, he was again placed on IR in December under somewhat cloudy circumstances following a worrisome medical incident in which he had to be checked into a hospital. Quinn totaled just nine sacks in these last two injury-flecked seasons.
OL Rodger Saffold
2017 cap hit: $6.32 million
Savings: $4.32 million
Rebuilding the offensive line under new Head Coach Sean McVay is going to be a top priority. I’m not sure how comfortable of a position the Rams would be in to lose arguably their best lineman in Saffold in 2017.
While Saffold has a lengthy and well-known injury history, he only missed one start last year. In 2014, he started all 16 games. So it’s perhaps only fair to point out that the only season among the last three in which injuries severely impact his playing time was 2015 in which he started just five games.
TE Lance Kendricks
2017 cap hit: $4.25 million
Savings: $4.25 million
This is probably the best bet in all likelihood. The Rams drafted a pair of tight ends a year ago in the 2016 NFL Draft, so there’s at least some existing potential for the new coaching staff to build up. Make a tick mark on the schedule for March 11; that’s when Kendricks is due a half milly roster bonus.
Kendricks is headed into his third year of his four-year contract extension he signed in 2015.
DEs Eugene Sims & William Hayes
2017 cap hit (Sims): $3.25 million
Savings (Sims): $3.25 million
2017 cap hit (Hayes): $5.50 million
Savings (Hayes): $2.50 million
The front office and coaching staff need to come up with a concrete plan for DC Wade Phillips to have the necessary tools to get consistent pass pressure. Between Quinn, Sims and Hayes, I’m not sure how they’ll fit into that plan. With Sims sitting without any guaranteed money this year and Hayes looking at a $2m bonus on March 11, there’s obvious reason to wonder if either will be looking for a new team for 2017.
C Tim Barnes
2017 cap hit: $3.35 million
Savings: $2.60 million
Barnes doesn’t have strong support among the fans, so this one would likely be well-received. The Rams would need to address the position this offseason through free agency or the draft in a meaningful way that would bring a reliable starter for 2017 since Demetrius Rhaney, the Rams’ seventh-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, is the only other center the Rams have under contract.
The real question is if the upgrade value is higher elsewhere than center. I could certainly see the staff and FO making a cogent argument to support as much.