The Los Angeles Rams know that they already have a roster capable of winning a Super Bowl championship, as most of last season’s team is returning and general manager Les Snead has managed to add Bobby Wagner, Allen Robinson, and Troy Hill in the process. With rumors popping up against recently that the Rams would like to bring back Odell Beckham Jr. for another second half run midseason, L.A. should have no problems at least getting back to the NFC playoffs.
But how much money do the Rams have left to spend in 2022 and would it benefit L.A. to have more cap space to rollover to 2023?
Per source update regarding OBJ and the @RamsNFL:— Connor Hox (@connor_hox) May 16, 2022
“His recovery is going well. Timetable is more optimistic. He thinks he will be back in November to play against the Saints. Rams target for him is Broncos. Rams contract is also based on that. I'm sure they'll bridge the gap.”
Right now, OvertheCap.com projects $5,403,530 in cap space for the Los Angeles Rams. And because the Rams didn’t have any picks in the top-100, we don’t really have to worry much about which rookies remain unsigned because none of them will cost a penny more than “very cheap.”
It is hard to say what Odell Beckham would be able to reasonably expect in compensation because we don’t know to what degree teams will value a 30-year-old receiver coming off of ACL surgery, especially when that receiver had not been so productive until the postseason. And before that, OBJ was a waste of space on the Cleveland Browns, whether that’s the fault of the Browns or OBJ is probably somewhere in the middle.
Setting aside Beckham, because we know that no matter who it is that Snead has a reputation for adding marquee talents midseason, L.A. could add another star out of left field who we aren’t even discussing yet. So the amount that Snead has to work with right now appears to be around $5 million.
If the Rams choose to make no moves, they will be able to rollover $5 million to the 2023 space amount, which as you can see currently sits at $11.7 million (I’m not clear if that figure includes the pre-rollover amount or the current rollover amount).
LA’s 2023 free agents include Rob Havenstein, A’Shawn Robinson, David Edwards, Greg Gaines, Darrell Henderson, Justin Hollins, Taylor Rapp, Matt Gay, Nick Scott, Travin Howard, Bobby Evans, Brandon Powell, Troy Hill, Matt Orzech, and David Long.
The Rams won’t have enough cap space to re-sign the free agents who they want to keep, so whether it is through extensions, restructures, retirements, cuts, trades, or other, something will have to happen. Could L.A. release any players this year to save money?
A’Shawn Robinson - $7 million savings with post-June 1 release
I have zero expectation of a Robinson release. He played a big role in the Rams’ Super Bowl run and it’s hard to envision Jonah Williams, Earnest Brown IV, Marquise Copeland, or Michael Hoecht having that kind of impact in his absence. Robinson played in all 21 games after a season of health uncertainty in 2020.
On the other hand, Robinson only played in 44-percent of the snaps and as a rotational piece, is there any thought that the extra $7 million could be used in another area? Robinson has a $6.5 million base salary, $1 million of which is guaranteed, plus $1.5 million in per game roster bonuses, meaning: $5.5 million in unguaranteed salary + $1.5 million in per game bonuses = $7 million in savings.
Remember, the Rams could cut Robinson, do nothing, and rollover $7 million to their 2023 needs.
Tyler Higbee - $6.625 million in savings with post-June 1 trade
Again, I repeat, this is not going to happen. Still, imagine a scenario where both Kendall Blanton and Brycen Hopkins look fantastic in training camp and offseason workouts, then a team swoops in and offers a second round pick for Tyler Higbee. Does that change the formula a little bit?
I know, a second rounder for Higbee? It happened for Hayden Hurst and Mohamed Sanu once!
How good was the chemistry between Matthew Stafford and Higbee in their first season together? Higbee was targeted 85 times, the second-most of his career, but he only gained 560 yards on those plays for 6.6 yards per target; Higbee averaged at least 8.2 yards per target over the previous three seasons.
And this is not me implying that a player has to always have a high YPT to be valuable, I’m just pointing out some statistical facts. Another one, maybe more of a statistical insinuation than a fact, is that three of Stafford’s passes towards Higbee were intercepted. Only one pass towards Higbee over the previous three seasons combined was intercepted.
That has something to do with Stafford’s penchant for interceptions, certainly, but will need to be addressed in 2022. The team would save Higbee’s entire $6.25 million base salary if traded or released.
Taylor Rapp, $2.54 million saved if released
This one is maybe more believable than the first two, but at no point has Sean McVay shown the same displeasure for Rapp as a starter that many Rams fans have through three seasons.
The Rams must be hoping that Nick Scott, Terrell Burgess, or rookie Quentin Lake step up and earn a starting role next to Jordan Fuller next season. There was similar hope a year ago, then Rapp started all 17 regular season games—and made four interceptions.
He will likely stick around and $2.54 million is not a lot, but it could be enough to sign Odell Beckham, Jr..
Some of you may be wondering, “If the Rams need cap space, couldn’t they just restructure or extend a player?”
Yes! If the Rams need 2022 cap space, they could do that. But what I am addressing is “Do the Rams need 2023 cap space” and a restructure or an extension would REDUCE their future spending abilities, not INCREASE it. So today we are only talking about the FUTURE of the Rams cap space.
The Rams could also save $7.25 million by releasing Rob Havenstein, but I don’t see that happening in any scenario. There is some talk of Andrew Whitworth playing again... Which could only possibly impact Havenstein if the team decided to start Joseph Noteboom at right tackle in that scenario. I don’t see that happening either.