LA Rams Les Snead’s restructure aversion contradicts his latest contracts

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) *** Local Capture *** Les Snead
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) *** Local Capture *** Les Snead /

LA Rams general manager Les Snead’s hesitation to restructure existing high-paying contracts contradicts the way those contracts are structured.

LA Rams general manager Les Snead does not back down from high-risk high-reward opportunities. Nor does he back down from putting the Rams money where his mouth is. So the Rams had made it a priority to sign QB Jared Goff, WR Brandin Cooks, RB Todd Gurley, and DL Aaron Donald to contract extensions.  Of course, Snead successfully did so, but in the process tied up over 50 percent of the team’s total available salary cap in just five players (CB Jalen Ramsey is the fifth).

Not only were those contracts lucrative for the players, but the language in the contracts rivaled those of contracts from major corporations written to avoid hostile takeovers. The contracts included so much guaranteed money, roster bonuses, and other clauses that the Rams have virtually no feasible option to sever without paying significant penalties in the current salary cap.

In short, unless the LA Rams are willing to take considerable cap hits in any year to trade or cut a player, the concept of kicking-the-can on restructuring has already been made. The Rams willingly paid a premium in today’s dollars in the chance of locking in productive players at discounted rates in several years.

However, three of the four players became far less productive after signing mega contracts. Those contracts are nearly airtight in many ways. Yes, the Rams can trade the player, but will still be on the hook for a significant amount of salary cap dollars. Yes, the Rams can cut the player, but doing so will amplify the salary cap hit for the player significantly, and the team will lose the player from the roster in the process.  Yes, the Rams can do nothing, but doing so allows additional roster clauses to kick in, sometimes adding another $10 million + to the current salary year’s salary cap outlay.

In the end, Rams GM Les Snead may simply not want to free up 2020 salary cap space because he does not want to sign any of the team’s exiting free agents to a costly contract risking overpaying them into the future.

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Unfortunately, it appears that the Rams have already overvalued players with three such ironclad contracts. So whether the Rams pay those dollars today or tomorrow makes almost no difference.  But what does change is the team’s salary cap ceiling should increase dramatically next year, and the next, and as long as the new proposed CBA is in effect. Tomorrow, those dollars take-up less of the team’s total cap space.  25 cents today for a dollar is greater portion than that same 25 cents in tomorrows $2.00.

In the end, the Rams will pay for all five players, and for the life of the contracts. The team cannot get out of those contracts anytime soon, because the penalty to do so is worse than keeping underperforming players.