LA Rams must build war chest for the 2021 NFL Free Agency market
By Bret Stuter
To be the best, you have to beat the best. And that’s the goal of the LA Rams this year. But if the Rams intend to beat the best, they will need to do four things.
First and foremost, they will need to cut down on turnovers. Secondly, the Rams will need to threaten the backside of the defenses they face. Thirdly, the Rams will need to boost blocking at the point of attack. Finally, the Rams need an enforcer at linebacker. A true punishing sort of tackler.
So that’s the list. It’s very doable, but it will take a keen eye in the 2021 NFL Draft, shrewd negotiations in the NFL Free Agency market, and sufficient free salary cap space to make it all happen. How much is enough? Well, the Rams have an estimated $181 million to work with. From that amount, the team will have a minimum threshold of $45 million tied up just to sign 53 players to the $850,000 minimum annual salary. That’s the bare bones.
Right now the LA Rams are estimated to be in excess of the 2021 salary cap by ($25-30 million). So to get under the ceiling, the Rams must find at least that much in cap saving. That’s the starting point. But to accomplish their goals, the Rams will need to find more savings, much more savings. That’s where we can differ. But the methods of finding salary cap savings remain the same each year. So how deep must the Rams cut?
Well, you can form your own conclusions. But it’s a double-edged sword. To free up salary cap space today, the Rams will need to cut, trade, retire, restructure, or rework contracts of existing salary commitments, or players who you have come to love. We’ve come out with a 5 step process to shave $80 million off the Rams salary expense this year, just like we had in 2020. How close did we get? Well, the Rams actually did three of five steps we predicted a year ago.
The Rams have over a dozen outbound free agents. Many of whom have already been planned for among the Rams depth chart or reserve/future contract signings. But the Rams should be committed to keeping John Johnson III and Darious Williams. How much will that cost? $15 million. Now the Rams must shave from $40-45 million of salary cap savings.
So that’s the starting point. $45 million is the bare-bones minimum. Add more to draft players. More still to sign players from the NFL Free Agency market. More still to sign players after the 2021 NFL Draft. To be active this off-season, the LA Rams will need to find ways to shave dollars from the salary cap. $30 million won’t cut it. Neither will $40 million. In fact, $50 million won’t do it.
That’s why we set the mark for savings at $80 million. The LA Rams will need a war chest this off-season to restock their roster with several game-changers. Will it hurt to clear that much salary expense from the team’s payroll? Of course. But it may hurt even more not to clear that much salary cap space. The Rams want to win now. To do that, they need to build the roster capable of doing so.