January 26, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; Team Sanders running back Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers (27) is tackled by Team Rice defensive end Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams (94) during the fourth quarter of the 2014 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Rams Pick Up Fifth-Year Option On Robert Quinn


Do not fret football fans, we are a mere nine days away from the start of the 2014 NFL Draft. While the last month may have been brutal to sit through, as analysts transform 0:03 sound-bites into full-blown, draft-altering rumors, the end is almost in sight. In fact, yesterday, in the midst of all the smokescreens and noise, the St. Louis Rams made an extremely important move for their future.

As allotted under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), teams have a “fifth-year option,” that can be picked up on any player selected in the opening round. We recently touched on this in our case for the St. Louis Rams taking a quarterback in the 1st round this year, highlighting the benefits of the non-negotiable, cap-friendly option. Unsurprisingly, the Rams have chosen to use that fifth-year perk on Robert Quinn, the reining Professional Football Writers of America’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Instead of breaking the bank on a new extension, the Rams will keep their All-Pro on the roster for a mere $6.97 million in 2015, likely half of what Quinn would demand on the open market. In fact, the stud defensive end will only make $9.97 million combined over the next two seasons; a figure lower than the annual salary on Earl Thomas’ new contract in Seattle.

How is that number so low? Well here is how those salaries are calculated…

“The option for top-ten picks is set at an amount equal to the salary of the Transition Tender (set in Article 10, Section 4 of the CBA) for the player’s fourth contract year. This salary is calculated, basically, by finding the average of the top ten highest Prior Year Salaries for players that played the same position. Positions are defined by the spot a player spent the most plays at during the previous season (Sec. 7, (a), 31).

For players selected between 11th and 32nd in the draft, the same calculation is used to compute their salaries. The difference is that the average of the third through 25th highest Prior Year Salaries for the player’s position equals the player’s fifth-year salary.” -Anthony Holzman-Escareno

Luckily for the St. Louis Rams, the vast majority of their opening round selections since 2011 have come outside of the Top 10. To highlight that difference, some of the fifth-year option salaries within the Top 10 are quite hefty, albeit with some going to players at position take typically receive larger contracts. For example, the option for A.J. Green (4th overall pick) in Cincinnati would be nearly $10.2 million, for Cam Newton it would be $14.6 million, and Marcell Dareus (the only Top 10 defensive end in the 2011 class) would cost $8.1 million.

Looking into the future, the Rams will have Michael Brockers, Tavon Austin, and Alec Ogletree to consider in the next couple of years. Both Brockers and Ogletree were taken outside of the Top 10, which should give the front office some flexibility as they attempt to keep this defensive roster together.

Regardless, for now, the St. Louis Rams have reaped the benefits of the owners’ ability to negotiate during the most recent CBA. Robert Quinn being locked into the roster is just one less thing the Rams will have to worry about this time next season!

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