Will LA Rams really allow DB Williams to test NFL Free Agency?

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams racing against the clock is more than an annual exercise in getting in under the NFL salary cap ceiling just at the deadline. Oh no, this one is so much more important this year. You see, while the organization is already at $33 million over the stated 2021 NFL salary cap ceiling, that is just the start of it. To make any and all qualifying tender offers, the Rams will need to find those savings as well.

That deadline is March 17, 2021, at 1:00 pm PT, and it is the deadline for filing those tender offers.  While the Rams will likely not extend a qualifying tender offer to tight end Johnny Mundt, the Rams have every reason in the book to extend such a qualifying tender offer to defensive back Darious Williams. The cost of a first-round tender offer to Williams is just shy of $5 million. The market price for Williams could be triple that amount.

Even with a qualifying tender offer in place, other teams can still negotiate with Williams’ agent and file an offer letter for him.  The Rams will have the right to match the offer, also known as the Right of First Refusal, or to pass on matching that offer. If the Rams choose either a first-round or second-round qualifying offer to Darious Williams, the new team will need to forfeit a draft pick to the Rams to sign Williams.

What if the Rams don’t make a qualifying tender offer?

But, what if the Rams choose not to make such a qualifying tender offer? After all, they refused to do so with any restricted free agents in 2020.  That election did not prevent the Rams from re-signing both Morgan Fox and Donte Deayon to 2020 contracts, but they did not have a very robust market. There is a heated market for Darious Williams, and as many as ten NFL teams will be happy to bid for his services.

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The Rams sum of the $33 million overage PLUS the $5 million required to make the first-round qualifying offer. Again, that is just to get to a break-even point at the deadline. Even with just six picks, the Rams will need to sign those rookies to contracts.  But the Rams will have more time to get there.  And if the Rams wish to sign any veterans in free agency, they will need the cap space to do so.

Right now the LA Rams have 63 players under contract. That means they will be adding 27 more players before the start of training camp. Hopefully, Darious Williams will be one of those additions.

We know that Troy Hill is an unrestricted free agent. We also know that John Johnson III is an unrestricted free agent. Both were starters for the LA Rams secondary. Even with All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, can the Rams afford to lose Darious Willams too?   While that may still not happen, the lack of any action by the Rams certainly raises the possibility.

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Yes, the Rams may be actively working to free cap space now. There are less than six days now. Just 141 hours to save $40 million.  That’s a pretty sizeable chunk of change. I wish I had more information of a positive nature to share on this situation. But for now, all is quiet on the Darious Williams front.