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Rams only have 2 expected cap casualty candidates

Rams only clear options to release are Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The L.A. Rams have three players making over $20 million against the salary cap in 2024 and none of them are expected to be cap casualty candidates, if for no better reason than they can’t be released to save cap space. Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and Cooper Kupp would only seem to have two clear paths in 2024, which is to return to the Rams or retire.

Beyond those three, the Rams have four players making over $5 million and two of them are all but certain to be cut for cap savings: Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen.

Everyone else seems to be safe, barring an unforeseen trade or post-June 1 release.

Joe Noteboom: $15 million dead money, $5 million cap savings

Noteboom has a $20 million cap hit in 2024, a lot for a backup, so there is no good reason for the Rams to keep him this year. Even though it is only $5 million in cap savings, that’s $5 million that can be spent one someone who is not a backup, utility player. Noteboom should be released prior to his $5 million roster bonus being exercised on the fifth day of the 2024 league year, which is in March.

L.A. will save the $10 million non-guaranteed base salary as well, giving them $15 million in total cash savings. The only reason there isn’t more savings is that Noteboom has two void years that the Rams must account for when he’s released.

If the L.A. Rams release Noteboom with a post-June 1 designation, they will save $15 million this year, but $10 million less in 2025. Also, the money would not be available until June. The Rams are not allowed to release a player with a post-June 1 designation in order to have more money for the cap space to sign a player in March, which is why it is a “post-June 1 designation”.

The money would only be necessary if the Rams are worried about needing money in the fall and during the season. L.A. is projected with $27.7 million in total cap space for 2024, but the number is actually much smaller than that when you account for draft picks, practice squad, re-signing players, etc.

Brian Allen: $3.15 million dead money, $4.9 million cap savings

Cutting Allen is even more straightforward than Noteboom. The team saves about $5 million and that’s too good to pass up for a backup center. Allen has a $1 million roster bonus coming, so he should be released before then. He also has two void years.

Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp

Donald has a guaranteed $5 million roster bonus coming to him in March and if he is on the roster on the fifth day of the league year, he will have a $30 million guarantee. So making it to the league year is a huge payday for Donald. Given that he was still a top-tier defensive tackle in 2023, why wouldn’t the Rams keep him unless he wanted to retire?

Donald has a $34.1 million cap hit in 2024 and no significant savings if released.

Stafford has the highest cap hit on the team at $49.5 million and his $31 million base salary is fully guaranteed. He’s going nowhere. There are no bonuses coming for Stafford this year.

Because of how Kupp’s deal is structured, there’s nothing much to discuss with his contract. He has a fully-guaranteed $15 million base salary and a fully-guaranteed $5 million roster bonus. Kupp’s $29.8 million cap hit is on the books no matter what L.A. thinks. Trading Kupp would only save $2.74 million, unless the deal is completed after May.

Rob Havenstein, Tyler Higbee

The other two significant contracts on the books are also virtually guaranteed. Higbee signed an extension in 2023, so he’s not going anywhere. Havenstein’s deal is two more years and $5 million of his $6.5 million salary is guaranteed. He has a $5 million roster bonus coming. The team would lose cap space if they released him before then.

All figures thanks to OvertheCap.com.

Once the team cuts Noteboom and Allen, they’re looking at $37.6 million in cap space. The top outgoing free agents are Kevin Dotson, Ahkello Witherspoon, Carson Wentz, John Johnson, Demarcus Robinson, and Jordan Fuller.