The Los Angeles Rams have 86 players on the roster, fewest in the NFL right now, and they have yet to sign any of their 14 draft picks. They will, last year the Rams waited until June 6th to sign their rookie class, but as of now there are 72 players signed to L.A.’s roster and they have just $1.75 million in projected cap space for 2023, per OvertheCap.com.
Steve Avila, the 36th overall pick, alone has a cap hit of $1.68 million for 2023.
The Rams will also need $1 million for Byron Young, $980,000 for Kobie Turner, $924,000 for Stetson Bennett, and so on until you hit Mr. Irrelevant Desjuan Johnson, who gets a total of $3.917 million over four years and $769,444 in 2023 if he makes the team. All of these numbers will become irrelevant eventually because that’s what teams hire cap gurus for and L.A. is used to finding money where there doesn’t seem to be any.
What is relevant here is that the L.A. Rams are paying $74.2 million in dead money, $73.8 million to Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald, and thus far just $78.8 million to everybody else.
Donald alone makes $5 million more than the rest of the defense combined.
Right now the Rams have 86 players, including the unsigned rookie class, two fewer than any other team in the NFL right now and meaning that they could still add four more players. But they don’t have the money to do it yet.
How could that be worked out to get present cap space?
Well, one would have to imagine that the Rams shouldn’t and wouldn’t touch the contracts of Stafford, Donald, and Kupp. L.A.’s COO Kevin Demoff has emphasized that the organization will eat all of the salary cap pain that they can eat this year and stop pushing it into the future, which means not restructuring any more contracts.
If you're wondering about the Rams' approach to 2023, read this.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) March 24, 2023
Of note, Demoff says:
"... we have taken all of our salary cap pain in 2023 and project to have more than $60 million in space in 2024, the most salary cap space we have had since our move to Los Angeles." https://t.co/MgYapy89kz
Restructuring right tackle Rob Havenstein would save over $4 million and only increase his 2024 cap hit by about $1 million, so that is an option. But brace yourself for Havenstein being almost a $16 million right tackle in 2024, if that happens.
Releasing Tyler Higbee, a 2024 free agent, saves $3.9 million. Even releasing Brian Allen with a post-June 1 designation doesn’t save any money. And the team has seemingly pledged allegiance to players like Jordan Fuller, Cam Akers, and Van Jefferson out of the 2020 draft class, so we shouldn’t expect any surprises there for cap purposes.
The Rams surely have moves up their sleeve—because they have to have them—and we should find out what they are sooner than later.