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  • No-cap year would hurt the Rams

    No-cap year would hurt the Rams

    New York Jets running back Leon Washington, left, and San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. (File photos/AP)By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/22/2010

    Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president of football operations, said there were times during the 2009 season when he would look at the team's salary cap sheet, "and we had about $2,000 of room."

    That was with a salary cap of nearly $128 million. But with the blessing of team ownership, the Rams decided to jettison several high-priced veterans, some who were aging and some who were under-performing.

    As a result, the team led the NFL in "dead money" — money that counts against the cap for players no longer on the team. The dead money soaked up much of the team's cap space. But the payoff would come this year, with the dead money cleared from the books, giving the Rams sufficient money to re-sign their own players or go out and sign other teams' free agents.

    That strategy was implemented under the premise of a salary cap in 2010. But unless there's an extension of the current collective bargaining agreement between the players and the club owners, this league year will be uncapped. The new league year — beginning with the opening of the free-agency trading period — starts March 5.

    The thought of no salary cap brings visions of free spending and players changing teams in record numbers. As it turns out, an uncapped year is not nearly as enticing because of accompanying provisions that kick in if there's no extension of the labor agreement by March 5.

    Namely:

    — Players with expired contracts are eligible for unrestricted free agency only if they have six years (or more) of experience instead of the usual four years. Under this scenario, players with four or five years of experience would revert to restricted free agency status.

    — Each team would be allowed an additional "tag" further limiting player movement. Currently, teams can use one franchise tag (or transition tag) on a player per offseason. If it's an uncapped year, teams can designate one additional player with a transition tag. ShopSTL Marketplace


    — Additional restrictions apply to the eight teams that reached the conference playoff semifinals this season. Those don't apply to the 1-15 Rams.

    But the impact of the first two provisions, particularly the six-year free agency requirement, hits the Rams where it hurts.

    "It limits the player pool," Demoff said. "It's going to be a challenging dynamic for all teams on how you get better, how you compete for players, and where you find the players that make your team better. Especially if you're a team that's still rebuilding."

    Such as the Rams.

    "I think everybody can look at what we did last year in free agency and it was a very discernible pattern," Demoff said. "Younger players with great character who weren't injury-prone, who we thought had upside."

    Whether it was outside free agents such as center Jason Brown, safety James Butler, and tight end Billy Bajema, or Rams who were re-signed such as safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and cornerback Ron Bartell, the Rams made it a point to pursue younger players.

    This offseason, those players will be restricted free agents instead of unrestricted, if it's an uncapped year.

    There are more than 200 of the so-called "limbo" free agents this offseason — players who are unrestricted free agents with a salary cap, but restricted free agents in an uncapped year.

    Unrestricted free agents can sign with any team, no strings attached. But with restricted free agents, teams can match outside offers and in most cases get draft-pick compensation if they decide not to match offers.

    As a result, few restricted free agents switch teams. Since the start of the current free agency system in 1993, an average of only four restricted free agents per year have changed teams, compared to 117 unrestricted free agents switching teams per year.

    On the current list of prospective "limbo" free agents, there are several players who might interest the Rams.

    Even in a year with a salary cap, most of those players might end up re-signing with their existing teams or receive a franchise player designation. Some, however, would slip through to the open market. It will be much tougher to get at those players if they're restricted free agents in an uncapped year.

    The Rams have only about $76 million committed to salaries so far in 2010, and with projections of $30 million or $35 million in cap space when all is said and done. What do they do with that money given the uncertainties surrounding the fast-approaching free-agency period?

    "We're going to be ready for both scenarios," general manager Billy Devaney said. "We have to be. There might be a compromise. It could be an uncapped year. But at the eleventh hour if they make a deal, we've got to be ready."

    So the Rams have two free agency plans: one for a capped year and one for an uncapped year.

    "The goal is to be prepared for whatever happens," Demoff said. "I think everybody is hopeful that the league and the union will at some point come to a meaningful lasting agreement that both sides are happy with."

    And if that's not the case?

    "It's going to be a fascinating offseason if it winds up being uncapped in terms of trades and draft picks and RFAs (restricted free agents)," Demoff said. "People are going to have to use tools in the personnel toolbox they haven't used in a while."
    :ramlogo:

  • #2
    Re: No-cap year would hurt the Rams

    It does hurt us but I think it hurts a lot of teams too. Maybe everyone. I really do believe Billy D knows what he's doing and regardless of what happens, we will at the least get a player or two that will make an impact for us in free agency.
    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: No-cap year would hurt the Rams

      Great post, Eldfan. Possibly the most important information needed to have sensible conversations about what The Rams can/may/should do this off season.

      Below is another piece of the puzzle; how the RFA tender/compensation packages work. The cash numbers are low because they were for the '09 off season but I believe the structure is accurate ( feedback on any discrepancies/additional info would be great).

      It comes from Ask....the...Commish...website.

      gratuitous Salary Cap-Fu.... Azul says check it out... (name that film critic).

      The player's original team maintains the First Refusal Right if the team tenders a contract offer of one year at $1.01 M.

      The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and Draft Selection at the Player’s Original Draft Round (from the team with which he signs) if the team tenders an offer of one year at the same amount(s) listed above OR at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

      The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and Second Round Draft Selection (from the team with which he signs) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $$1.545 million OR at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

      The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and First Round Draft Selection (from the team with which he signs) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $2.198 million OR at least 110% of the player’s prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.

      The player's original team maintains the Right of First Refusal and First Round Draft Selection and Third Round Draft Selection (both from the team with which he signs) if the team tenders an offer of one year at $2.792 million OR at least 110% of the player's prior year’s salary -- whichever is greater.


      In the event a Prior Club withdraws its Qualifying Offer, the RFA immediately becomes an UFA.
      Last edited by Azul e Oro; -01-22-2010, 04:37 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: No-cap year would hurt the Rams

        This sure puts a damper on free agency. This just means one thing: The Rams better hit a home run on draft day.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: No-cap year would hurt the Rams

          While it's not the greatest thing for the Rams, it does keep some balance in the league. If these rules weren't in place, the teams with the deepest pockets would be raiding the league. It would take many years to clean up that mess.
          That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

          Comment

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          • rammiser
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