The LA Rams “reworked” the contract of punter Johnny Hekker this week, freeing $1 million in 2021 cap space and giving Hekker an opportunity to become a free agent in 2023 instead of 2024. The deal helps further explain why the Rams chose to keep Hekker over Corey Bojorquez, the punter who had a fantastic preseason and was traded to the Green Bay Packers after LA decided to retain the incumbent.
As part of his reworked deal, Rams P Johnny Hekker can now make up to $2.75M in 2021 and 2022 and up to $3M in 2023.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 6, 2021
The move clears ~$1M in cap space for LA, while Hekker now has the chance to void the 2023 year in his deal and pursue free agency a year early if desired.
Cap space should not be a huge concern for Les Snead and the Rams, but clearly saving $1 million mattered for some reason. Teams can roll over a certain amount of cap space to the following year though and Los Angeles will likely need some extra in 2022; they are currently bumping up against the 2022 salary cap MAXIMUM of $208.2 million.
What other players could the Rams talk to about extending, renegotiating, restructuring, or reworking their deals?
Matthew Stafford, QB
Stafford has two years remaining on the last contract he signed with the Detroit Lions and there is a 100-percent chance that he will sign an extension or an entirely new deal with the Rams. There have not been any credible rumors about a Stafford extension coming before they face the Chicago Bears this coming Sunday but I have complete confidence that the two sides will come to an agreement on a pact that goes beyond 2023.
Darious Williams, CB
The Rams gave Williams the first round tender this year, a rare move for any team and restricted free agent, but clearly Snead and Sean McVay are reluctant to see the cornerback leave for a new deal. That of course means that Williams is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 and if he plays like he has for the last year and a half, it will be difficult for LA to retain the 28-year-old veteran who unbelievably still only has 13 career starts.
Jalen Ramsey signed a five-year, $100 million contract to stay with the Rams, the most money for any defensive back in the league. A contract for Williams could come close to the three-year, $43.5 million deal that James Bradberry signed with the New York Giants in 2020.
Sebastian Joseph-Day, DT
There’s been a lot of talk about 2021 being SJD’s breakout year, so would the Rams like to give him a team-friendly contract prior to his ascension as a defensive line star? Joseph-Day will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
Rob Havenstein, RT
There is no talk of Havenstein succeeding Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, whenever the 39-year-old decides to step away, but LA will need to shore up the right side of the offensive line just the same. Havenstein is signed for two more years, but the 29-year-old veteran could have a lot more career left and the Rams might be able to lower his cap hit in either of the next two seasons: $8.3 million in 2021 and $8.8 million in 2022.
Tyler Higbee, TE
Higbee is signed through 2023, so there’s no rush to get him locked in for a longer period of time. But the Rams might be able to find cap savings eventually by converting some of his current or future salary into a bonus and it doesn’t seem like McVay has any intention of parting with his current starting tight end any time soon.