Believe it or not, the LA Rams are not in terrible position with regards to the salary cap in 2021. As of today, they appear to have committed $163.8 million in salary for next season, which ranks as the 19th-most at the moment. In comparison, the Philadelphia Eagles have $226.2 million in commitments, the New Orleans Saints are at $249.9 million, and the Atlanta Falcons are at $214.4 million.
So while Rams GM Les Snead may not get to throw around as much cash next year as Colts GM Chris Ballard — assuming Snead has kept his position in the front office — he’s not “screwed” by any means. Though releasing Todd Gurley, trading Brandin Cooks, and losing Cory Littleton and Dante Fowler in free agency was painful to some degree, it has given Los Angeles more options next year.
Though the options may all be internal.
Unsigned and set to hit free agency are cornerback Jalen Ramsey, receiver Cooper Kupp, and safety John Johnson, all of whom would resemble “cornerstone” pieces for any franchise. What looks like about $42.7 million in 2021 cap space per OvertheCap.com would then seem to evaporate quickly, and that’s only based on a projected cap of $215 million; the 2020 cap is $204 million and speculation is that it will freeze or go down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, we should also assume that the NFL doesn’t want to encourage situations where teams will lose key players or be unable to pay salaries based on circumstances entirely out of the hands of everyone this year. And because we’ve seen a player sign a $503 million contract we can also assume that the league and the NFLPA isn’t too worried about the money aspect quite yet.
It does mean that if the Rams are going to give Ramsey $22 million per year, Kupp $17 million per year, and Johnson $13 million per year, that the $42 million is gone like that. I did not intend for my figures to add up to $42 million, it was only a coincidence based on reasonable salary projections for those positions.
Now what would Snead do about his other free agents — Leonard Floyd, Austin Blythe, Troy Hill, Gerald Everett, Samson Ebukam, Josh Reynolds, Malcolm Brown — and the players who are not on the Rams who he’d like to see on the Rams in 2021?
LA has potential salary cap opportunities, but they’d all indicate that bigger issues might be ahead or behind the organization if these players are no longer useful to the team: Andrew Whitworth ($5.3 million in savings if released or retired), Michael Brockers ($4.6), A’Shawn Robinson ($4), Rob Havenstein ($5.1), Tyler Higbee ($5.3), Robert Woods ($9).
One solution to needs, as always, is the draft. Unfortunately the Rams will again be left out of the first round after trading their 2020 and 2021 picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Ramsey. I will continue to hold my position that first round picks are overrated by most people, especially if LA succeeds as planned and makes it in the late 20s, early 30s, but certainly the more talented young players, the better.
The Rams have not picked in the top-40 since trading up for Goff in 2016 and while this means that they don’t get as much coverage from guys like Daniel Jeremiah and Mel Kiper, it hasn’t stopped them from posting three straight winning seasons, two division titles, and a trip to the Super Bowl. What issues they did have in 2020 wasn’t likely to be fixed or addressed by having the 31st pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
(The Falcons selected Kaleb McGary, but I suppose make your own choices out of the available names.)
So while many will say that the Rams have two issues ahead — no first round pick, no cap space — I would instead say that they have the financial opportunity to lock down three excellent players and that the picks spent on Ramsey will have an uphill battle to be as valuable on the field as Ramsey.
That being said, it always feels nice and cozy to be in the position of having money to spend on current stars and draft picks to use on the future stars of our fantasies. I wonder what would be more valuable to Rams fans right now though:
$20 million in additional cap space to the 2021 cap (as in a ‘cap credit’ that doesn’t change anyone’s salary but simply gives Snead more room to play with) OR their original 2021 first round pick at whatever position that ends up being?
Which would you rather have for the 2021 Rams?
This poll is closed
$20 million in additional cap space
The 2021 first round pick back to the Rams