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NFL salary cap: Rams, taking their time to adjust, remain in worst financial position

Something will be announced by next week; they have no choice

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Los Angeles Rams v Houston Texans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Les Snead will get the Los Angeles Rams under the salary cap by Wednesday’s deadline, but he’s taking his SoFi suite time to get there. As of Saturday afternoon, the Rams remain roughly $33 million over the 2021 salary cap, which was set at $182.5 million this week. ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry reports the number to be $31.26 million over, which is still the worst in the NFL now that the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles have adjusted contracts to get closer to being out of the red.

Los Angeles will have no choice but to restructure some of their most expensive contracts, such as the ones for Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, but Snead may have to pull the trigger on releasing one or more players if the Rams aren’t able to free up the amount of cap space they’d like by moving pre-existing commitments around.

But whether or not a player restructures is often not up to the player. From PFF’s salary cap explainer, here’s how an “automatic conversion” could mean that Snead can restructure Donald and/or Ramsey without having to ask for permission:

In the vast majority of veteran NFL contracts, there are now “automatic conversion” clauses, meaning the team can do this unilaterally without the player signing off. The player gets the cash up front as a bonus, so it’s not exactly the worst thing in the world, but they are doing the team a favor.

I can’t say for sure if Donald and Ramsey have these clauses, but in any case it is inconceivable that they would do anything that harms the team’s chances of improving its roster for next season when a restructure wouldn’t mean they’re being paid any less. It only means that they would be receiving more money now, as opposed to later, while the team would free up cap space in 2021 while accepting greater guarantees in future years.

The Rams would be able to free approximately $29 million by restructuring the deals of Donald and Ramsey to the maximum allowed. By restructuring one other key player, such as Robert Woods or Cooper Kupp, LA would be under the 2021 salary cap.

It’s going to happen, one way or another, but with less than 48 hours until the legal tampering window opens Snead hasn’t appeared rushed in getting them there.