The Los Angeles Rams made shocking news on Thursday with the report that they agreed to mutually part ways with star linebacker Bobby Wagner, only one year into a five-year contract at $50 million. The news means a lucrative year for Wagner and an opportunity for him to hit free agency again and to cash in on another payday.
The question for Rams are left with: Why now and what does it mean?
Well, the early reports suggest that the Rams aren’t going to release Wagner just yet and that he won’t be a free agent until March 15, like every other free agent. This is in contrast to an example such as Derek Carr, who the Raiders have already cut, allowing the quarterback to already meet with the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets. According to Mike Garafolo, Wagner won’t be officially on the market for three more weeks, which tells us that he’s most likely a post-June 1 designation.
Won’t be official until the start of the league year so he won’t be able to sign with teams just yet. Will join the new free agent class that will be free to sign on March 15. https://t.co/CKILyBshqD— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 23, 2023
As a post-June 1 designation, the Rams will be able to spread out Wagner’s dead cap penalty over two years instead of one. That’s significant. It means that L.A. will save $8 million against the 2023 salary cap instead of the $5 million that was expected.
It also means that the Rams will carry a more notable dead cap hit for Wagner in 2024, so this is probably a move that signals that L.A. wants to keep building their roster for 2023. This probably isn’t a “give up and rebuild long-term” release, as many initially felt. Or...it could just mean that the Rams are still over the 2023 salary cap ($6.8 million per OvertheCap.com after the post-June 1 release) and they need to clear out as much space as possible.
Wagner isn’t the last domino to fall. Is he the last domino to fall moving out though, and how many dominos are falling in?