General manager Les Snead and the Los Angeles Rams are known for playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers. Look no further than the rest of the league finally adopting the strategy of trading first round draft picks for proven talent. Another way that LA has gotten creative over the years is with player contracts. Players like Andrew Whitworth and A’Shawn Robinson have had unique contracts during their stint with the team.
One contractual piece that went under the radar during last year was running back Cam Akers. Because Akers was injured in training camp of 2021 and did not play in six regular season games that year, his 2024 free agency status changed from Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) to Restricted Free Agent (RFA). Why?
According to NFL contract rules, an RFA is a player who has three or less accrued seasons. An accrued season is six or more games in a regular season schedule.
Cam Akers signed a four-year rookie contract after the 2020 Draft, but his 2021 season will not count as an accrued season because of his achilles injury. Even though Akers played in the final regular season game against the San Francisco 49ers and in all four playoff games, those games do not meet the threshold to count towards an accrued season.
Why does it matter? This has significant contract barring for next year. As a RFA, Akers is eligible to receive one of various qualifying offers (“tenders”) that come with the right of first refusal and/or draft-pick compensation. Akers is free to negotiate with any team, but LA will have the opportunity to match any offer. In addition, rather than having to pay Akers as an unrestricted free agent, LA has the opportunity to keep him on a cheap deal.
Something I did not previously know: Cam Akers will technically be an RFA in 2024 bc he started 2021 on NFI list. That means Rams could tender him instead of getting into FA/extension convo next spring and could have two more seasons w/Akers as lead. https://t.co/bO0Q1Xfhp0— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) December 29, 2022
With the running back market not in high demand, LA will likely be able to keep Akers with a second rounder tender offer of about $4 million. If the running back has a breakout season in 2023, that offer will be very favorable for the team’s cap heading into the 2024 season.