Part of the reason that the Rams might not spend any more money this year is that they’ll need cap space to roll over into 2022. According to OvertheCap, LA has roughly $6 million in effective cap space and figure should include having already signed some of their rookie class. But the current projection for 2022 has the Rams at $8.2 million over the cap, which is what will happen when you restructure so many players to get under the current salary max.
How will Les Snead get of his jam next year?
Snead may not show his cards until he needs to, but that doesn’t mean that the LA Rams don’t have a plan for 2022. Some of that might include rolling over what cap space they can from this year. Another solution will come in the form of releases and retirements: $13 million in cap space if Andrew Whitworth goes, $5.65 million for Tyler Higbee, $5.5 million for A’Shawn Robinson, $3.55 million for Johnny Hekker, and $7.25 million for Rob Havenstein.
And many of those savings would be higher if LA chooses to wait until June 2 of next year.
Will there be enough cap space to extend any of the 2022 free agents who Les Snead wants to retain? Are there any upcoming free agents who Snead wants to retain? There are definitely a couple of extension candidates. Whether the Rams can afford them remains to be seen.
Matthew Stafford, QB
Stafford isn’t a free agent until 2023. But it’s worth noting that the Rams didn’t trade for him without believing that he’s going to be LA’s quarterback beyond the next two seasons. Stafford has a $23 million cap hit in 2022, which currently ranks 14th among quarterbacks for that season. If the Rams wait until next year to extend Stafford, it’s a realistic possibility that his price tag goes from “Lions QB for 12 years” to “Super Bowl MVP” between now and then. It’s possible. In fact, the Rams certainly hope that it is possible. That’s why they made the deal.
What would his price tag be then?
In 2023, there are five quarterbacks who are currently set to have cap hits of at least $40 million: Patrick Mahomes ($46), Dak Prescott ($44), Matt Ryan ($43), Deshaun Watson ($42), and Russell Wilson ($40). I think we may need to readjust our expectations of what Stafford will make on his next contract. It’s possible he could sign something like a three-year, $120 million deal. Prescott’s recent contract was four years and $160 million, with two void years to offset the cap hits.
Darious Williams, CB
Snead gave Williams the first round tender as a restricted free agent, and few GMs are willing to go above a second rounder in those cases. No teams came fishing for Williams and he’ll make $4.7 million this year, then become an unrestricted free agent next year.
LA is paying Jalen Ramsey a $23.2 million cap hit in 2022, then $25.2 million in 2023, and he’s signed through 2025. The team also drafted cornerback David Long Jr in 2019, then took Robert Rochell earlier this month. It’s enough to make you believe that the Rams won’t also be able to afford Williams, but what would that cost?
Because he got a late start in the NFL — Williams was 26 when he made his first start in 2019 — he’d be entering free agency at age 29. Last year, Trae Waynes, a former first round disappointment, signed a three-year, $42 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. And this year, former Bengals first round pick William Jackson signed a three-year, $40.5 million deal with the Washington Football Team; Jackson is 29 and his three career interceptions is one less than what Williams had last year alone.
I could see Darious Williams getting a four-year, $60 million contract in 2022, when teams will have a lot more breathing room with a raised salary cap.
Austin Corbett, C/G
LA was fine with going into 2019 with Brian Allen. They were fine with going into 2020 with Austin Blythe. And they’ll be fine going into 2021 with Corbett, a player who still lacks NFL experience at center. Unless he and Stafford develop some incredible chemistry that can’t be replicated, it could be a safe bet that the Rams will be fine going into 2022 with a different player at center.
But then again, the top-paid center in the NFL is Frank Ragnow, Stafford’s former teammate in Detroit. Will Stafford be pushing the team to get a high-end snapper?
Pro Football Focus views Austin Corbett highly as both a guard and center. https://t.co/KtSCnlUP2C— Rams Wire (@TheRamsWire) May 25, 2021
It’s difficult to project Corbett’s next deal because there aren’t a lot of situations like his. Corbett is only 25. He’s been good, not great. He hasn’t been a center at all. If he goes out and plays like a Pro Bowl center, he could top the contract signed by Chase Roullier relatively recently: four years, $40.5 million.
If he plays “OK” then he might only get a one-year deal for $5 million.
That huge swing in potential outcomes is why I wouldn’t expect a contract extension. Even if doing so might save LA some money — and some trouble — in the future.
Sebastian Joseph-Day, DL
The last potential free agent who I see as an extension candidate would be Joseph-Day, but he too is difficult to project. That’s partly because I’m not yet entirely sure what role he will play on Raheem Morris’s defense, but some are expecting a breakout campaign in 2021. Like ProFootballFocus:
Sebastian Joseph-Day has played a little under 500 snaps in each of the past two seasons, seeing his impact and overall PFF grade steadily improve over that time. He had 38 defensive stops ... including the playoffs, and could be in line for a bigger role in 2021.
Joseph-Day could be the most underrated player on the Rams and the moves to trade Michael Brockers to the Lions, while also letting Morgan Fox sign with the Panthers, opens up more opportunities for SJD to be known. He’ll be 27 next year and it just depends on how much credit he gets for what he does, and how much credit Aaron Donald gets for what Joseph-Day does.
When people mention the Rams lack of draft capital remind them of this:— Joshua Kollack (@real_kylo) September 29, 2020
Tyler Higbee-R4 P110
Cooper Kupp-R3 P69
John Johnson III-R3 P91
Josh Reynolds-R4 P117
Sebastian Joseph-Day-R6 P195
Darrell Henderson-R3 P70
David Edwards-R5 P169
Jordan Fuller-R6 P199
Last year, D.J. Reader signed a four-year, $53 million deal with the Bengals. Would a team see Joseph-Day in that same mold? If he continues to be one of the most dominant run stoppers at nose tackle, if he helps open up chances for Donald and other Rams, if he can be as versatile as he seems to be, then Reader’s contract may not be that far out of reach.
If he’s not seen that way, then Fox’s two years and $8.1 million is a closer comp.
Should the Rams extend any of these players?
This poll is closed
CB Darious Williams
C Austin Corbett
DL Sebastian Joseph-Day