When the LA Rams traded for quarterback Matthew Stafford, the team most certainly had done their homework in terms of Stafford’s abilities and potential fit in the team’s offense. But like buying a new vehicle without test driving it, there will always be questions until you get it home and run it through its paces.
Well, it may be that the LA Rams feel that they have run Stafford through enough of his paces to believe that it’s time to talk money.
You see, the Rams traded for Stafford, who is currently on the last two years of his current contract to play in the NFL. Because the contract expires in two seasons, many had expected the LA Rams front office to eventually revisit the deal, which impacts the team’s current salary cap by $20 million in 2021 and $23 million in 2022 (figures per Over The Cap.com).
It appears that the time to talk about reformulating that contract is now. Or that is what the latest NFL rumors report suggests:
Even though the term “restructure” is cited in this report, it is more likely a renegotiation. Let’s explain why. Restructuring is used to describe a method of reclassifying contract payments in order to spread the impact of dollars over the remaining life of the contract. It doesn’t change the amount of money changing hands.
Renegotiating a contract can change the amount, timing, or length of a contract. Extending a contract simply has additional years and payments beyond the current expiration date. So the most logical method to create cap space now is likely to renegotiate Stafford’s current contract.
Dealing for dollars
With only two years remaining, any attempt to lower the salary cap impact of Stafford now would involve renegotiating his current two-year contract. There simply are not enough years extending into the future to realize worthwhile cap savings otherwise. So how low can it go?
Well, it can go much lower than his current $20 million and $23 million salary cap hits. It depends almost entirely on how many years the Rams want to lock up Stafford for, how much guaranteed money the two sides agree upon, and how low the LA Rams organization needs the cap to be in 2021 and 2022, the two years where the team is squeezed for cap space.
Even in a salary cap reduction in 2021, the LA Rams are carrying nearly $40 million of dead cap space. That disappears in 2022, giving the team an opportunity to crawl out from the past several years of salary cap purgatory. Reworking Stafford’s contract could create vital cap space in 2021 and 2022, cap space that will be desperately needed to retain key contributors a year from now.
This is typically the time when the front office locks in key players to contract extensions. Should a new deal go through, it will be huge for both sides. For Matthew Stafford, it will likely keep him under center for as many as five more years. For the LA Rams, a multi-year deal will remove the Rams from concerns about finding a new quarterback just around the corner and will free up dollars to help the team re-sign vital veterans in 2022. Keep this one on your radar.