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Potential Cap Casualties For 2017 Los Angeles Rams

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NFL teams are starting to trim down rosters in advance of free agency and the draft. Here’s who the Rams could part with.

Los Angeles Rams DE Robert Quinn
Los Angeles Rams DE Robert Quinn
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

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.

As Jason Fitzgerald from Over the Cap points out, the Los Angeles Rams don’t have a ton of room to maneuver this year unlike some of their peers:

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.

In 2014, Quinn re-signed a long-term extension keeping him under contract through the 2019 season.

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.

Saffold re-signed a long-term deal in 2014 in odd circumstances after initially leaving to sign with the Oakland Raiders. He remains under contract through 2018.

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 Rams re-signed both last year: Sims on a less expensive three-year deal, Hayes on the more lucrative three-year contract.

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.