Step IV: Review positional spending
The LA Rams, like all 32 NFL teams, are allotted a specific amount of money to spend each season on salaries, which has come to be known as the NFL salary cap. Because the Rams must mete that fixed amount out to the 53 players on the Rams roster each year, the Rams have a unique financial strategy towards winning against other teams. Some teams invest heavily in their offense. Some teams invest heavily in their defense.
Because NFL teams begin with the same starting point, the decisions made regarding how they spend that money can be tracked and compared by assessing the NFL positional spending tables compiled by OverTheCap.com or Spotrac.com. So why take this step?
By assessing how the Rams have spent their funds in comparison to other teams, you can get a pretty accurate feel of where the Rams will likely spend money in free agency this offseason. So . . . How does that work? Let's examine the case of whether or not the LA Rams will extend FA IOL Kevin Dotson?
Right now, we know that the LA Rams have three free agent extensions that are vital to the team: LT Alaric Jackson, C Coleman Shelton, and RG Kevin Dotson. Now, review where the LA Rams are in terms of salary commitments to offensive linemen in 2024. Regardless of which number you use, whether Sportrac or OvertheCap, you can assess that the Rams' outlays for 2024 are about at the midpoint in terms of offensive linemen. If the Rams extend Shelton to about $4 million/year, and extend a Second Round Qualifying Tender Offer to Alaric Jackson of $4.633 million, the Rams will have added nearly $9 million to their salary expenses, all of which has been invested in the offensive line.
But then we must consider the offset of restructuring contracts. If the Rams invest $9 million, but save $12,5M, the team has shaved the cost of the OL group by $3.5 million. Low ball estimates to extend Kevin Dotson are $12.5 million, and could reach as high an $18 million for 2024. Will the Rams commit that much to one player, particularly one who plays at an interior offensive line position?
The Rams positional group spending right now is skewed heavily to offense. If you express the Rams to regress towards the norm in 2024, you are likely to see the Rams spend heavily on the defensive side of the football. That could be great news for DBs and OLBs, but may not shine the best light on spending money on offensive linemen or backup QBs in 2024.
It's not a perfect system, but it does point you in the right direction in terms of how the LA Rams, or any NFL front office, approaches free agency spending.