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How Can the Rams Make Room for Aaron Donald’s Massive Extension?

If this extension is going to get done, the Rams need to trim some fat...

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, I took a look at what a fair contract for Aaron Donald could look like. In that article I note that the Rams limited cap space in 2017 may be a contributing factor in the situation. I think that the Rams could entice Donald back to the bargaining table with a small bump in pay this season.

The Rams currently have a little less than $5M in cap space for 2017. For all intents and purposes, that money needs to be left alone. In addition to practice squad salaries, it is wise to carry a bit of cap space throughout the season. Because of these expenditures, any money the Rams would like to offer Donald in 2017 needs to be freed up via cuts on September 2.

Below is a list of veterans who could be on the chopping block and the likelihood of them being cut and/or traded. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it gives you an idea of the decisions facing the Rams.

Mark Barron - Potential Savings $2M

Barron has played well since his trade to the Rams in 2014. However, it’s hard to justify his $11M salary given some of his limitations. That being said... I don’t think Wade Phillips would take kindly to losing a key part of his defense for a measly $2M savings.

Odds of Happening: 1/10

Robert Quinn - Potential Savings $5.2M

When healthy, Quinn is an elite edge rusher under contract as a relative bargain. The problem is that he hasn’t been 100% in quite some time. Also, see above.... Phillips isn’t going to take kindly to this conversation.

Odds of Happening: 1/10

Rodger Saffold - Potential Savings $4.3M

Yeah, you don’t cut your best guard when you have invested so much in Jared Goff

Odds of Happening: 0/10

Connor Barwin - Potential Savings $2.5M

The potential with Barwin is fairly high. He’s had success in a 3-4 defense in the past so I think the Rams roll the dice and hope he can repeat his success.

Odds of Happening: 2/10

Cory Harkey - Potential Savings $1.3M

The Rams have Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. For all that Harkey brings to the locker room, his time with the Rams may have finally ran out.

Odds of Happening: 9/10

Cody Davis - Potential Savings $1.7M

To be honest, I’m not really sure what to think about Davis. He hasn’t impressed me by any means though and that’s pretty much the definition of someone who’s expendable.

Odds of Happening: 7/10


I don’t see the Rams making any huge cuts, but they do have the ability to add roughly $3M in cap space by cutting Harkey and Davis. While that $3M may not seem like a lot, it has the potential to roughly double Donald’s 2017 base pay. I’m no expert on the CBA, but there has to be a way the Rams can get that money to Donald.

If they figure that out, it might be enough to push this deal over the edge.