Over the last two offseasons, the Los Angeles Rams have been unusually aggressive in taking advantage of some of their most important players being on inexpensive rookie deals by trading for talented but unwanted pieces and exploiting the available cap space those rookie deals created.
That aggression allowed the Rams to go all-in on an effort to build a Super Bowl-caliber roster. That roster got them to the Super Bowl. Hard to be upset.
But now, the cost of that deal is coming due, and it’s coming due in two forms.
One of those is in terms of draft picks and the deficit the Rams have built up over the last four years both in moving up in the draft but also in packaging draft picks in moves that brought in talented, though temporary, roster upgrades. That, coupled with the wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide group of role players on expiring deals, means the Rams are in the precarious situation of losing much of the middle third of their roster. While that doesn’t grab the attention (or money) of the top end of the roster, it’s nearly as important on the field.
But the other cost of that aggression is much more quantifiable. And it’s in the form of a couple of players that will cost the Rams much, much (, much, much) more in 2019 than it did a year ago.
It comes down, largely, to five players: WR Brandin Cooks, DL Aaron Donald, LT Andrew Whitworth, CB Marcus Peters and RT Rob Havenstein. I’ll throw in RB Todd Gurley for the purposes of rounding-friendly figures, but it’s mostly about that quintet.
As a six-man group, those six players will cost the Rams more than $40m in 2019 than they did in 2018. To be specific using numbers from Over The Cap, they’ll cost $41,095,577. If you’re wondering why the Rams are so cavalier about letting LG Rodger Saffold III, DL Ndamukong Suh, S Lamarcus Joyner and EDGE Dante Fowler, Jr., hit the market, that’s your easy answer.
They picked the former over the latter.
2018-19 LA Rams key contract increases
That’s not a decision deserving criticism by any means. A plurality of teams, if not a majority, would love to have that six-man group the Rams are bringing back in 2019. And Whitworth’s return from the precipice of retirement was met with celebration for a reason.
It just comes at a cost.
So while Rams fans can lament that the team has little wiggle room to address burgeoning needs across the defense and offensive line, the simple reason why is that the Rams have locked in a functioning core that has helped them win the NFC West the last two seasons and led them to a Super Bowl appearance just a month ago.
If you’re gonna spend money, you might as well spend it wisely.