Even with 14% salary cap increase, LA Rams not out of 2022 woods yet

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The NFL and NFLPA have announced the decision to increase the 2022 annual salary cap from a 2021 ceiling of $182.5 million up to a 2022 ceiling of $208.2 million. Even though that is a bump of $23.7 million in just one year’s time or inflation of some 14 percent, it’s still not enough to get the LA Rams out of salary cap hell.

That’s significant for the Rams personnel office, perhaps as newsworthy as the announcement of the salary cap increase. So, we’ll package the two topics together, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love talking about the LA Rams being in NFL salary cap hell regularly, right?

So let’s get this party started by getting some real numbers out there. The NFL and NFLPA agreed today on the basic 2022 NFL salary cap. Now, just to be clear, the formal final number will ultimately be calculated after the 2021 NFL season has been played out, and that number could go up or down based upon the financial results.  I’m even willing to be optimistic at this point.

So why am I emphasizing the Rams’ lack of purchasing power for 2022? Well, per the salary cap experts at Spotrac.com, the Rams currently have contracted commitments up to $213.6 million for players in 2022, even after 21 players with expired contracts are eliminated from their salary cap expenditures.

If you hadn’t heard, the LA Rams were under a lot of financial pressure to get under the salary cap ceiling for 2021. Of course, the Rams did so and announced to the world their success with the classic image of LA Rams General Manager Les Snead pushing dozens of ball caps from a horizontal surface.

In the meantime, the Rams’ current shortfall does not provide for any 2021 carryforward amount. In short, whatever savings that the team can clear out of 2021 will be added to their salary pool for 2022. While that number may come down with the combined forces of any carryforward plus unexpected revenue bumps for next year, it does illustrate the dangers of repeatedly kicking the can down the road.

Due to huge signing bonus monies paid out to several veterans who have since been cut and or traded, the Rams financial picture has devolved into a bit of a quagmire due to the residual dead cap money on the books after the player leaves. That dead cap money forced the Rams organization to convert 2021 salary commitments into 2022 salary commitments.

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Yes, at some point in the future it will all clear out, much like the traffic jams for commuter traffic dissipate at 1:00 or 2:00 am. But it isn’t much relief if you are stuck in one of those bumper-to-bumper logjams and need to get somewhere quickly.