Will LA Rams need to restructure more contracts for cap space?
We know that the LA Rams are in the midst of renegotiating contracts for quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive lineman Aaron Donald. But the driving force behind that exercise is more about raising their compensation than creating salary cap space for the team right now. Of course, both outcomes are possible if the Rams are savvy enough to construct plenty of cash payments now that can be spread over the life of the contract.
While the combined salary-cap hit for these two contracts works out to $50 million for the 2022 season, that amount simply is not enough to move the salary cap needle far enough out of the red and into the green to allow the LA Rams more options in the upcoming NFL Free Agency market.
Shrewd contract writing could free up to $30 million between the two players. By fronting cash as a signing bonus, crafting a significantly lengthy contract, and topping everything off with void years to add more spreadability in the final years, the Rams could place both QB Matthew Stafford and DL Aaron Donald at the highest-paid players at their position but still be left short of enough freed up cap space in the end.
LA Rams can restructure more contracts
The LA Rams have more players with lucrative contracts. Rather than renegotiating the entire contract, the team could simply reclassify the salaries of DB Jalen Ramsey and WR Cooper Kupp, saving the team over $21 million in 2022 salary cap space, and changing nothing to the players except the category of the payments.
The reason being is that if the payments are reclassed as signing bonuses, they can be spread over the life of the contract. Of course, the downside is that whatever is saved by the team in 2022 will be passed along to impact the salary caps of future years. That is why restructuring is often described as ‘kicking the can down the road.’
But the Rams will need to do something more than renegotiate the contracts of Stafford and Donald. The Rams, theoretically, can free up nearly as much salary cap as they wish if the team is willing to bite the bullet down the road. For the importance and production of some of the team’s free agents this year, it makes some sense to consider freeing up additional cap space.
If the Rams organization is comfortable trading tomorrow’s picks for today’s players so readily, then it makes sense to adopt a similar strategy with the salary cap to retain those players after their partial year contract expires.