How did that huge 2024 LA Rams salary cap projected surplus dwindle so quickly?

A year ago, the LA Rams bit the bullet in dead salary cap expense to free up over $60 million of surplus cap space in 2024. But nlow that we are in 2024, much of that surplus has vanished. What happened?

Kevin Demoff, Los Angeles Rams
Kevin Demoff, Los Angeles Rams / Ric Tapia/GettyImages
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Beware early salary cap projections

Well, the simple answer is that both can be true. After all, a projection is only as good as the information that is available when the projection is made. For the LA Rams, a projection in March 2023 does not include many of the factors that ultimately affect an NFL Team's salary cap.

While we embrace salary cap projections, the truth is that those projections are flawed even from the starting point. The salary cap is not just impacted by obligations that are known to take place next year, but are impacted by the unknown events and outlays from the current year. After all, whatever is left over in 2023 rolls over in 2024.

So what type of impacts to the Rams 2024 salary cap were not included in the Kevin Demoff estimates? Let's go down the list:

Contract Restructures

One of the fundamental rules about any salary cap activity is that while an NFL team can create space in the current year, the cap impact never goes away. The LA Rams, thanks to absorbing over $77 million of dead cap space in 2023, were taken to the brink of their 2023 salary cap limit. And so, the Rams front office had to create current year space.

The simplest way of doing so is converting base salary into a signing bonus. While that does not impact the amount of money paid to a player, it does alter the timing of when the team has to recognize those outlays. The Rams cleared $9 million of 2023 salary cap space by restructuring the contract of OT Joe Noteboom.

But even that was not enough cap space for the LA Rams in 2023. The team took on the additional task of creating $10.44 million of additional cap space by restructuring WR Cooper Kupp's salary.

Restructuring these salaries pushed an additional $14.78 million into 2024, having the effect of lowering the Rams 2024 available salary cap space.