5 contracts holding Rams back right now

While the team has some money to spend, the 2024 offseason is by no means smooth sailing. Here are 5 player contracts that pose unique challenges, and may be holding the Rams back rignt now from taking action in other directions

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout, Les Snead
Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout, Les Snead / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
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How much money do the LA Rams have to spend? It depends on the day, and the site, that you pose that question to. After all, the complexity of that question is truly not as simple as 1+1=2. The number is so complex because it's not simply the amount of cash projected to be spent on each and every player in the 2024 NFL season. There is also the matter of what category those payments fall under.

NFL contracts have a variety of salary categories, and creative contract lawyers and accountants come up with new ways to pay a player each new year. But to fully appreciate the complexity of player contracts, we need to gloss over the types of salaries that can be used to compensate players. They are:

Current year compensation - A player's salary, roster bonus, and any incentive clauses that are almost certainly to be met are all versions of compensation that impact a salary in the present year.

Deferred compensation - Signing bonuses, and other forms of 'bonus payments' are paid out in the current year, but are spread over the life of the contract. That means that a $20 million signing bonus on a four-year contract is paid out now, but an NFL team only recognizes $5 million of that bonus against the current year's salary cap. This is why players who are cut or traded create dead cap space. Those are bonuses paid in previous years that must be expensed now because that player's contract has been terminated.

Delayed compensation - Due to the uncertainty of some incentive clauses, the potential of some player contracts are delayed until the conditions of that clause or clauses are met. A perfect example of this is the contract signed by Odell Beckham Jr. The conract's base value was $750,000 salary and $500,000 in signing bonus. But $3,000,000 of incentive clauses for how well the Rams overall team performed in the 2022 NFL Playoffs kicked in, making the entire contract worth $4.5 million by the end of the post-season.

Void years - Void years are a relatively new contract trick that adds additional years to a player contract that do nothing more than allow signing bonuses to be spread over a greater period of time. If a player receivers a signing bonus, void years allow the impact of that bonus payment to be less in the current year, but potentially creates a much larger impact if and when that player is released or traded.

Okay, that covers the basics. There are other factors at work as well, such as the pre-June 1 versus post-June 1 date for trades or releasing a player. We won't cover that in depth here, but the basic principle is that a post-June 1 dated trade or release does not eliminate a salary cap hit. Rather, it merely allows an NFL team to move some of the salary cap penalty from the current year into the next year.

Okay, Accounting 101 class is over. Now we are ready to look at the five contracts holding the Rams back right now: