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Thread: Try the Rams' Cap on for Size ..

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    Try the Rams' Cap on for Size ..

    By Howard Balzer
    February 17, 2012 @ 2:15am

    With Monday the day when NFL teams can begin doling out franchise or transition tags, that is one decision the Rams wonít have to worry about.

    The league year begins March 13 at 3 p.m. Central, not at midnight Eastern as it was for many years. By that day, all teams will have to be in compliance with the salary cap for their top 51 players under contract. Although the exact figure is being finalized, it will be very close to the $120.375 million total for 2011.

    When the CBA was consummated in the chaotic summer last year, it was agreed that the cap number would basically be the same for two years. There is expected to be a significant jump in 2013, but for now, teams have to deal with the way it is.

    However, the reality is that most teams will actually have a cap higher than the base number. Teams are able to roll into this year whatever cap dollars they had remaining at the end of 2011. In addition, there are other credits available.

    For the Rams, what does that mean? They have carried over around $3.8 million from last year and have another $1.5 million available. Using the $120.375 million number, that will establish the Ramsí cap at about $125.675 million.

    The teamís top 51 players currently account for around $110 million. However, that doesnít include restricted free agents and exclusive-rights free agents that will receive tenders.

    The Rams have 21 unrestricted free agents (UFA), a total that includes cornerback Al Harris, who has said he is retiring. The 20 UFAs are quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and A.J. Feeley, running backs Jerious Norwood and Cadillac Williams, wide receivers Mark Clayton and Brandon Lloyd, tight ends Billy Bajema and Stephen Spach, center Tony Wragge, guard Jacob Bell, tackle/guard Adam Goldberg, tackle Mark LeVoir, defensive tackle Gary Gibson, linebackers Chris Chamberlain, Bryan Kehl and Brady Poppinga, cornerbacks Rodf Hood and Justin King, safety James Butler and punter Donnie Jones.

    They also have two restricted free agents (RFA) and six exclusive-rights free agents (ERFA).

    Restricted are wide receiver Danny Amendola and defensive end C.J. Ah You. Last year, the lowest tender for RFAs was $1.2 million, which would result in compensation of the round the player was drafted in if he signed with a new team. There is no compensation if the player wasnít drafted and he receives the minimum tender.

    In 2011, the next tender was $1.8 million for compensation of a second-round pick and $2.6 million for a first-round pick. The highest tender, which would result in first- and third-round picks as compensation, no longer exists.

    The tenders are expected to be close to the 2011 levels, although they could increase by around $100,000. Although Amendola is coming back from injury, it wouldnít be surprising if the Rams put a second-round tender on him.

    Ah You is another matter. He was a favorite of the previous coaching staff, and the current evaluation could be that his value is not at least $1.2 million. If he doesnít receive a tender, Ah You would become a free agent. The minimum salary for a player with three credited seasons is $615,000.

    Tenders for ERFAs are made at the minimum salary, based on credited seasons. In 2012, the minimum salaries are $390,000 for no credited seasons, $465,000 for one credited season and $540,000 for two credited seasons.

    The Ramsí ERFAs are quarterback Tom Brandstater ($465,000), defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo ($465,000), wide receiver Dominique Curry ($465,000), guard Bryan Mattison ($465,000), fullback Brit Miller ($540,000) and safety Darian Stewart ($540,000).

    If each of those players are tendered, the total against the cap would be $2.94 million.

    However, the Rams have 50 players under contract. Once they reach 51, any new player signed or tendered would then knock someone out of the top 51, thus reducing the net cap increase from the new contract. The Rams have nine players at $390,000 so an ERFA added at $465,000 for example would count only an extra $75,000 against the cap if one of those players departed the top 51.

    Even if the Rams tender all eight RFAs and ERFAs, that should leave them between $12 and $13 million under their adjusted cap.

    However, still to be accounted for is the rookie pool, which could be between $6.5 and $7.5 million depending on whether the Rams end up selecting at No. 2 overall in the first round or deal the pick.

    What might the Rams do to create more cap space? Here are some potential options:

    Center/guard Jason Brown: He has two years remaining on his contract with base salaries of $5 million and $6.2 million. This year, his cap figure is $7.2 million. If Brown were released prior to June 1, the Rams would save $5 million, but $4.4 million in signing bonus proration would accelerate against the cap for a net savings of $600,000.

    Defensive tackle Fred Robbins: He is entering the final year of his contract with a salary of $3.75 million and $250,000 of likely-to-be-earned incentives. He did not receive a signing bonus, so if released that would be a net savings of $4 million.

    Tackle Jason Smith: There have been numerous reports that the Rams are trying to negotiate a pay cut for Smith, who has started just 26 of a possible 48 games since being the second overall pick in the draft in 2009. He missed the final 10 games of last season with the second serious concussion of his career. Smithís base salary for 2011 is $10 million, $1 million of which is guaranteed. Including a signing bonus proration of $3.268 million, he counts $13.268 million against the cap.

    If released on or before June 1, he would count slightly more than $10.8 million against the cap. That would save about $2.4 million, but does it make sense to give up on him? Smith has played well as a run blocker, but hasnít been able to stay on the field for long stretches of time, except in 2010 when he started 15 games.

    Would Smith agree to a pay cut to $4 or $5 million with the ability to make the lost money back based on games started? That would save the Rams between $8 and $9 million against the cap. In three years, he has been paid around $32 million for 26 starts.

    Defensive end Chris Long: His contract was renegotiated last September to resolve a grievance, and that accounts for the cap dollars the Rams were able to roll into this year. The Rams saved about $4 million by reducing Longís cap number.

    Prior to the renegotiation, Longís salary for 2011 was $11.335 million with a cap figure of $13.532 million and his salary for 2012 was $12.060 million with a cap number of $14.265. He received a $12.1 million signing bonus in September, and his 2011 base salary was lowered to $603,750 ($9.483 million cap) and his 2012 salary was lowered to $10.06 million, but his cap figure this year is $18.3 million.

    This is the final year of his contract, so heís likely to hit the bonus jackpot again. Itís possible a contract extension could occur that would lower the base salary for this year and result in some cap savings.

    The reality, though, is that all the talk of a cap-room bonanza for the Rams this year simply wasnít real.

    The reality is that Long, Smith and Sam Bradford ($15.595 million) count a combined $47.17 million against the cap, which is 37.5 percent of the projected cap space. Include Steven Jackson ($8.899 million) and the total is $56.069 million/44.6 percent. Finally, the percentage for five players goes over 50 percent when Ron Bartellís $7.663 million is factored in. Those five players have a total cap figure of $63.732 million, which is 50.7 percent of the expected cap.


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    Re: Try the Rams' Cap on for Size ..

    Me thinks Mr Smith deals or gets the boot!
    THOLTFAN81 and Flippin' Ram like this.

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    Re: Try the Rams' Cap on for Size ..

    Nice to see these hard numbers. Seems like we have some room to make a few real additions in FA. And yes, Mr. Smith is going to have to renegotiate if he is going to wear the horns.
    A defeated look of consternation, dissappointment, or even pain. The name derives from the look one often gets when challenged by a large BM.

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    Re: Try the Rams' Cap on for Size ..

    Quote Originally Posted by BM_Face View Post
    Nice to see these hard numbers. Seems like we have some room to make a few real additions in FA. And yes, Mr. Smith is going to have to renegotiate if he is going to wear the horns.
    What about "The reality, though, is that all the talk of a cap-room bonanza for the Rams this year simply wasn’t real" wasn't clear?

    $13 million under the cap after tenders... About $7M going to rookies... that's $6M to make free agent moves before having to redo contracts or cut people. Let me remind you that in that list of free agents are ALL of our outside linebackers. That's two starters we don't even have yet in addition to depth. Let me remind you that everyone around here seems to think that we're going to go out and get Cortland Finnegan who will take up that entire $6M and probably more.

    People scoffed at me when I put out a list of mid-range vets who I think can play but won't take a whole lot of salary. They said that my pickups didn't make the team better. Well I'll take a team that can field a whole defense over one big splash. Take a look at that list of UFA's(and we have more than he listed) and look at all the players who played SIGNIFICANT time last year. Yes, we have 50 players under contract, but how many of them are actually going to be on the roster week one?

    The cap savings above suggest $0.6M, $4M, $4.5M(I don't see how he somehow got $8M on Smith) totaling about $9M, but also losing 2 starters which need to be replaced. Bell is not under contract. Fletcher might not be ready for week 1, that's another starter but he counts on the cap. We don't have a punter under contract. Add in the fact we have no OLB's and we have 7 out of 24 starters who aren't under contract. Unless someone thinks that someone under contract who played for us last year can start at LG, C, DT, SLB, WLB, CB, or P?

    Anyone? Anyone? Beuler?
    I believe!

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    Re: Try the Rams' Cap on for Size ..

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post
    What about "The reality, though, is that all the talk of a cap-room bonanza for the Rams this year simply wasn’t real" wasn't clear?

    $13 million under the cap after tenders... About $7M going to rookies... that's $6M to make free agent moves before having to redo contracts or cut people. Let me remind you that in that list of free agents are ALL of our outside linebackers. That's two starters we don't even have yet in addition to depth. Let me remind you that everyone around here seems to think that we're going to go out and get Cortland Finnegan who will take up that entire $6M and probably more.

    People scoffed at me when I put out a list of mid-range vets who I think can play but won't take a whole lot of salary. They said that my pickups didn't make the team better. Well I'll take a team that can field a whole defense over one big splash. Take a look at that list of UFA's(and we have more than he listed) and look at all the players who played SIGNIFICANT time last year. Yes, we have 50 players under contract, but how many of them are actually going to be on the roster week one?

    The cap savings above suggest $0.6M, $4M, $4.5M(I don't see how he somehow got $8M on Smith) totaling about $9M, but also losing 2 starters which need to be replaced. Bell is not under contract. Fletcher might not be ready for week 1, that's another starter but he counts on the cap. We don't have a punter under contract. Add in the fact we have no OLB's and we have 7 out of 24 starters who aren't under contract. Unless someone thinks that someone under contract who played for us last year can start at LG, C, DT, SLB, WLB, CB, or P?

    Anyone? Anyone? Beuler?
    Exactly. Typically at the end of the season teams only have like 35 guys on the roster. That gives us a little over 10 million dollars to sign 18 players. Yet people keep talking about nabbing guys like Finnegan who will be signed for around 8 million a year. We're going to need some big moves to create more cap space.

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