The LA Rams need to get crack a'lackin'. The start of the 2023 NFL season is scheduled to commence on March 15, 2023, at 1:00 pm. At that time, all 32 NFL teams must be under the 2023 NFL salary cap. The problem? The LA Rams are not 'there' just yet.
If you track the LA Rams salary cap progress on either OverTheCap.com or Spotrac.com, you will note that the LA Rams are still shown to be over ($14 million) in excess of the new NFL season salary ceiling. But didn't the Rams release veteran Bobby Wagner to get some cap relief?
They did, and that will shave approximately $8 million from the Rams projected excess. But the Rams have designated the release to be a post-June 1 transaction, which means that he is on the Rams roster until the moment the new season starts, Until then, he has the rights and privileges of any NFL Free Agent, with the exception that he will not trigger any algorithm for awarding NFL compensatory draft picks.
But even with that saving, the team will need to pull more from their payroll. The bare minimum is another $7 millon. But ideally, if the Rams wish to be active in the NFL Free Agency market, that number will need to climb to somewhere $30 and $40 million. Even if the Rams shed $40 million of 2023 salary cap expense, the team will not be major players in free agency. Perhaps extending a player or two. Perhaps adding one or two new faces to the roster.
Money matters and other Rams salary cap quandaries
It's the tight financial situation that is compelling the Rams to field offers for DB Jalen Ramsey right now. A post June 1 trade scenario can save the team another $17 million in 2023 salary cap dollars. Of course, that would necessitate the LA Rams executing a trade well into trading camp, a scenario that does not have as many practical benefits for the team as a pre-draft trade.
As we have seen in the past, the LA Rams have good relations with many highly-paid players, and that has allowed the team to restructure contracts in order to free up significant cap space in the past. Restructuring a contract changes nothing in terms of cash payouts to players, it merely allows the team to spread what was previously a current year salary over the existing life of the entire contract. In short, save today, and realize tomorrow.
If the Rams attack their salary cap problem by restructuring their top seven paid players, the team could generate $67 million saved against the 2023 cap. But by doing so, the team pushes that $67 million into the future, which will become a headache at that time.