Jan 22, 2014; Ko
A couple of months ago, there were rumors that the NFL was considering increasing that salary cap, in response to some of the massive television contracts, and to keep up with the increasingly inflating contracts in the NFL. Most projected a modest increase, one that might potentially raise the $123 million cap from the 2013 season to somewhere between $126-127 million. However, in a somewhat unexpected move that began slowly leaking out last night, the NFL blew the ceiling off last year’s salary cap, setting the number at an impressively-high $133 million for the 2014 season, with anticipated large increases in both of the next two season.
What does that mean exactly?
Prior to the massive bump in space, the St. Louis Rams top 51 contacts for the 2014 season were worth approximately $125.5 million. Under the previously-expected salary cap raise ($126 million), the Rams would have been in a awkward position, sitting nearly even with the cap before the free agency period has even begun. As a result, many speculated that the Rams front office would be forced to cut tied with a number of aging veterans in an effort to free up some room to be able to sign (or re-sign) a handful of players in free agency. Now it appears, the St. Louis Rams have much more room to maneuver, potentially having the space to target a “big name” free agent… or more, depending on the decisions they make over the next two weeks.
Just how much money to do the Rams have now?
Currently, St. Louis is sitting roughly $7.3 million under the new 2014 salary cap. That money might be just enough to re-sign an impending free agent, like Rodger Saffold, but would leave absolutely no room for any other free agent signing. However, even that might be a stretch, with the Rams still needing to sign a bounty of 2014 NFL draftees to the roster, including two first round prospects.
However, with a $7.3 million head start, the St. Louis Rams could certainly clear some major space by cutting some of the larger veteran salaries from the roster. The above chart lists the four “prime” targets for a potential cut. As we can see, cutting any one of those players will automatically bump the Rams up into the $11 million under-the-cap range, which would certainly be enough to bring in (or re-sign) one major player, while still having enough left in the bank to pay the future rookies. Taking it to the other extreme, the St. Louis Rams could fit well below the cap by releasing all four veterans. That adjusted figure would send the St. Louis Rams $23.8 million “in the black,” which could open the floodgates for Les Snead, Jeff Fisher, and Gregg Williams in an impressive free agent pool. That is, assuming the Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, could stomach eating $10 million in “dead” contracts.
There is still no hint at how the St. Louis Rams will actually approach free agency this offseason, especially after making such a massive splash with Jake Long and Jared Cook last year. However, with the “new” 2014 salary cap, the Rams certainly have more options to ponder as we quickly approach March.