You see the headline with “cap casualties” and then a picture of Andrew Whitworth and then maybe think “Oh no,” but the reality is that not many 40-year-olds have played in this league. And when the next offseason hits, retirement or moving on may simply be arriving on schedule and if that happens the Los Angeles Rams would save $5.3 million off of his $11.1 million cap hit.
A June 1 cut, if that’s available, saves $7 million.
What else can the Rams do with their 2021 contracts to free up additional money, if necessary?
The Rams are currently set at $42.8 million in cap space for 2021, though that is only an estimate of what the salary cap will be. There are always circumstances that impact what a future salary cap actually will become, but this year and next are perhaps the least predictable in NFL history because of the pandemic. I’ve now noted that so we can acknowledge that the future is very uncertain, but under normal circumstances, here are some other cap options for L.A. in a year.
Robert Woods, $9 million saved if released next year
Certainly not the business they want to do as there aren’t any signs that Woods will be washed up or close to it in 2021. However, Cooper Kupp is also a free agent. Do they have to choose? Maybe not and Woods’ cap hit of $10.1 million is a bargain under most circumstances.
This is also the most they can save on any one move.
Tyler Higbee, $5.3 million saved if released next year
Given what Higbee did over the final five games last season, a $7.1 million cap hit in 2021 could also be a huge bargain and there’s no reason to think that this is likely unless something went very bad for him in 2020. We do know that the Rams could come out of next season with Gerald Everett as their TE1 and Brycen Hopkins as an exciting rookie but even then, would they want to trade Higbee? Only if they were really forced into it, I imagine.
Rob Havenstein, $5.1 million saved if released next year ($6.75 if June 1)
This is an obvious one: If he’s good, he stays. If he loses his job, Havenstein may be gone before the 2020 season is even over. But I would still lean towards him being a starter and being fine and at $8.3 million, being a relatively cheap right tackle.
Michael Brockers, $4.6 million saved if released next year ($6.1 if June 1)
A’Shawn Robinson, $4 million saved if released next year ($7 if June 1)
In spite of re-signing him to a three-year deal in March, the Rams could easily get out of the Brockers’ contract in 2021. Same goes for Robinson, the other defensive tackle they signed.
The Rams in this scenario could go from $172 million in 2021 liabilities, to $167.5 million if Whitworth retires and then from there to a $161-$163 million in liabilities if they released Brockers or Havenstein or Robinson.
The point is that right now the Rams have cap space in a year and a few options to get more of it. However, free agents also include Kupp, Everett, John Johnson, Samson Ebukam, Josh Reynolds, Troy Hill, Malcolm Brown, Austin Blythe, Travin Howard, and Jalen Ramsey. The “no need” to release one guy or another could easily become a need depending on how some of these starters and potential starters do next season.
And ideally, Whitworth is still able to be a part of the next two campaigns at least.