One of the major talking points around the NFL in recent years has been the nature of teams with quarterbacks on their rookie deals being more successful.
As the logic goes, the savings incurred from an inexpensive but also talented young QB allows teams more roster flexibility at other positions that helps build better rosters overall. Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and our Los Angeles Rams have often been the targets of this thinking.
Well that’s all about to change.
Specifically for the Rams, QB Jared Goff is heading into the final year of his four-year cap-friendly rookie deal with the fifth-year option kicking in for 2020. While Goff will get just under $9m this year, he’ll earn nearly $23m next season; in sum, he’s getting a $13,893,741 raise next year. A potential contract extension will boot his earnings even higher.
So with the Rams coming out of the Super Bowl or bust season, there’s a bit of a changing landscape on the salary cap front.
Three players will now begin enjoying significantly higher salaries: Goff, DL Aaron Donald (>$17m in 2019, $25m in 2020) and RB Todd Gurley ($9.2m in 2019, $17.25m in 2020). The total increase of those three’s salary cap impact goes from $35,197,259 to $65,033,000 — a difference of nearly $30m.
And while fans who would enjoy seeing the Rams enter salary cap hell as Goff’s earnings skyrocket, that’s not currently an option as the Rams have so few non-rookie deals locked in beyond 2020. Three of the Rams’ top five earners in 2019 (LT Andrew Whitworth, DT Michael Brockers and EDGE Dante Fowler, Jr.) are currently set to become free agents next year. Throw in CB Marcus Peters and CB Aqib Talib who are also in the final years of their contracts, and you’re looking at more than $56m on the 2019 books coming off next offseason. Throw in the two-year deals for LB Clay Matthews and S Eric Weddle that could be truncated after this season and the Rams are well structured to manage the cap even as Goff becomes a much more expensive asset.
So as the Rams put the era of building the roster with a QB on a rookie deal behind them, there’s not reason to fret. The Rams have plenty of cap room to maneuver and nearly their entire natural 2020 NFL Draft haul (the only pick missing is the fifth-rounder owed to the Jacksonville Jaguars from the Fowler trade).
So while the 2019 season is the last one for Goff to be underpaid, the Rams have little cause for concern moving forward.