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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2024 salary cap impacts

So now we have seen where the money may have gone in 2023, but what of 2024? I mean, the LA Rams front office sounded as though the sky was the limit by the time that the 2024 NFL Free Agency market opens for business. But somehow, that blank check presumed to be spendable this year is now not a great deal of available funds.

In our recent Rams 2024 offseason primer, we laid out the five steps that are necessary for the LA Rams organization to be prepared to begin shopping in the NFL Free Agency market this year. When we arrived at the topic of re-signing players, we pointed out that the Rams front office may not view offseason spending priorities in the same order as fans.

But, per, aren't the LA Rams projected to have over $35 million of available cap space to spend? Well, yes and no. While the Rams do rank as the NFL team with the 12th-most amount of money to spend, there are some other factors at play. For starters, the Rams are shown to have just 51 players under contract for the 2024 NFL season. While that means that the Rams have satisfied their Top-51 contracts, it means that the Rams will be adding 39 players to the roster for the 90-man roster for OTAs and training camp.

Some of those additional players will fall in the Top-51 contracts, and will lower the available salary cap space.

But there is also the matter of the Rams 2024 NFL Draft. As of right now, the Rams 2024 NFL Draft hold is set at $2.65 million. Additionally, the Rams 2024 dead salary cap is estimated to be $723K

Can the Rams add key pieces in 2024 with just $35 million to spend. Absolutely. But with estimates for extending IOL Kevin Dotson coming in at $12.5-17 million per year, you can see how quickly even a surplus of $35 million can be spent.

I believe that the Rams learned a valuable lesson in 2023, a lesson that it's more important to sign high-value players, rather than high-cost players. The difference? High-cost players are signed quickly in free agency. High-value players are not signed quickly, but rather after the dust settles.

The LA Rams have plenty of money to spend in free agency, if they do so wisely. I, for one, think that is how the Rams will approach the 2024 NFL Free Agency market. After all, the Rams proved in 2023 that they could get a Brian Burns-like production at outside linebacker on a rookie's salary. I look for a lot more bargain shopping from the Rams this season.