The easy way, or the hard way
There is always the easy way. Yes, easy, because the Rams can leave everything in place. Let the players get paid., The team can watch ten Rams walk into the NFL Free Agency market in 2020 because the Rams paid WR Brandin Cooks, RB Todd Gurley, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and QB Jared Goff as if they were tops in the NFL. And then the Rams can hope for the best.
The Rams can place all their hopes that the team can somehow bring all four back to their potential and the level of player the team paid for so willingly. Add RT Rob Havenstein to the mix as well, who also suffered a sharp downturn in 2019. The Rams’ hope hinged upon rebounds for five NFL players at once. Then, it won’t sting as much knowing the team depleted the defense of their top 2019 stars because they broke the piggy bank for offensive players who failed to show up last season.
Or the LA Rams can step up and bite the bullet in 2020. By that, I mean the Rams can eat the salary cap penalties built into the contracts by trading both RB Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks in 2020. Doing so now would relieve the team of $3.6 million net in 2020, and gives the team plenty of cap space in 2021 to afford next year’s free agents. The team can simply convert QB Goff’s 2020 bonuses, freeing up an additional $24 million. And finally, extending CB Jalen Ramsey can free up another significant amount of 2020 cap space by stretching dollars over multiple years.
Of course, the strategy of biting-the-bullet in 2020 does not fix everything. But it does give the Rams a fighting chance of paying market prices for some of their projected 2021 free agents. And perhaps in the process, of affording some of the teams outgoing 2020 free agents as well.