The Los Angeles Rams are financially constrained again in 2023, but what’s new? Though Overthecap currently projects the Rams to be at least $14 million over the cap, Sean McVay no doubt returned to the team because he expects the roster to keep improving. General manager Les Snead had financial constraints a year ago but managed to add Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson, while re-signing Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen.
How? Because L.A. will start paying the price for those deals now or next season, but similarly, Snead can structure his new stars by getting them on contracts with low cap hits for 2023.
As we’ve been covering at Turf Show Times for months, the Rams have ways to free up the necessary cap space, as all NFL teams do. Not once in the history of the league has Roger Goodell told a team “Sorry, you’re out this season because you messed up your salary cap. We’re replacing you with Alabama.”
Not that it isn’t painful for the Saints to keep restructuring and cutting players and pushing their credit score down the line, but New Orleans always manages to do it. The Eagles almost won the Super Bowl this year despite “salary cap hell” last year and they’re back at it again this offseason. The Rams won the Super Bowl a year ago despite their own regular place in “salary cap hell”.
Just one contract restructure—Cooper Kupp at $14.2 million—gets the Rams right back to 0 against the 2023 salary cap. He’s a good enough player to not have to worry about what that does to his contractual future and just a few more moves before L.A. can get right back to swimming in the pool of the top free agents.
In 2022, the Rams signed Bobby Wagner to a five-year, $50 million contract, but his first year cap hit was only $2.5 million. The Rams signed Allen Robinson to a three-year, $46 million contract, but his 2022 cap hit was only $4.3 million; as painful as it feels now to know that the Rams are taking on an $18 million cap hit for Robinson, the majority of fans were simply elated the L.A. managed to sign Robinson last March despite seemingly being “out of money”.
That’s only possible because Robinson’s cap hit last year was under $5 million.
The Rams also re-signed Joe Noteboom and his first cap hit was only $3.5 million, while Brian Allen’s hit on his new three-year deal was only $1.8 million. Even trading for Matthew Stafford in 2021 was plenty affordable in the beginning, taking on $20 million cap hit in the first year and a $13.5 million cap hit in the second year. Stafford’s hit is still only $20 million in 2023.
So the Rams were able to trade for a starting QB in 2021 and only pay him a total of $53.5 million against the salary cap for the first three years.
Once the Rams are able to restructure Kupp and make some additional financial decisions to free up immediate space (Jalen Ramsey’s contract considerations, a potential post-June 1 cut of Leonard Floyd, moving Noteboom or Allen, and more restructures) Snead might only need to open up an extra $2-$6 million on the books to add each star player.
So the premise of maybe trading for someone like Tee Higgins or signing someone like Josh Jacobs or Saquon Barkley or Yannick Ngakoue maybe, it’s not outlandish. It just means that the future payments will be greater than the immediate, but as recent offseasons indicate: It’s possible and with Les Snead in charge of the Rams, it’s probable.