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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" ó 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 ó beginning with the opening of the free-agency trading period ó 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:

    ó 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.

    ó 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


    ó 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 ó 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 Playerís 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 playerís prior yearís 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 playerís prior yearís 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 playerís prior yearís 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 yearís 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, 05:37 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

          Related Topics

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          • Goldenfleece
            What can an uncapped year do for you?
            by Goldenfleece
            It won't help you get younger. Assuming there is no collective bargaining agreement signed within the next three weeks, this will mean (a) most of the players who would have been unrestricted free agents will likely be retained by their current teams, (b) the free agents who do hit the open market will mostly be 28 or older because they have to have six years in the league, and (c) the youngest talent in the market will be players who were eligible for free agency several years ago and were unable to land long-term deals.

            This is bad news for the Rams. If the old CBA was intact the Rams would be sitting pretty $35 million under the salary cap. If the owners successfully negotiated the cap down, this would be even better for the Rams because it would put the squeeze on teams that had been playing it close. With no cap, the Rams are just a mid-market team in the middle of a transition in ownership.

            The free agent market will likely be smaller than usual and more expensive. Because there will be so few starters available in free agency, I would predict competition would be more fierce. This has less to do with the lack of a cap and more to do with simple supply and demand. Effectively, the 26-year-old crowd who would normally be up for their second contract will be removed from free agency, but there will still be a market for the 31-year-old third contract group and to a lesser extent the 35+ "I'm not dead yet" market.

            There will still be a few positions we might improve. The quarterback market is likely to be almost non-existent. Even guys like Tarvaris Jackson and Jason Campbell could be retained if their teams so choose, but there will be a few options at back-up runningback including Leon Washington, Willie Parker, Chester Taylor, and Chris Brown. It is unlikely that a true #1 receiver will hit the market, and only a small number of solid #2's. L.J. Smith, formerly of the Eagles, might be an option at tight end, and Ben Watson will be one of the top names in free agency if he is available. The best starter prospects are probably at defensive end: Julius Peppers, Aaron Kampman, and Kyle Vanden Bosch are all possibilities provided they are not tagged. There may be a few options at linebacker including Gary Brackett, Scott Fujita, Angelo Crowell, Cato June, and Tully Banta-Cain.
            -02-14-2010, 09:29 PM
          • rammiser
            I'm beginning to hate free agency.
            by rammiser
            Free agency is getting out of control. As I watch average player after average player get signed to record deals and the really good ones get even more it really is out of control. This is something the NFL should look into. I dont know how they can do it but they need to figure this out. Performaced based maybe? Do you think the Whiners believe Clements is worth his contract from last year. He's a nice player sure but he's not worth more money than Bailey. It's just getting out of control every year the free agents get rediculous contracts that set the price tag for an even higher payoff the next year. Most of the time it isnt even worth what you paid. The draft is almost the same way, the number one pick get all this money and for what? Being the best college player? I like the NBA's system where there is a cap on how much you can make based on how long you've been in the league. It can be tough on older vets but it's not getting out of control anymore. I want the Rams to get some good players but I hate to see them get an average player for top tier money and that is free agency in a nutshell.
            -02-29-2008, 01:35 PM
          • RamWraith
            Rams Turn Toward Free Agency
            by RamWraith
            Tuesday, February 10, 2009


            By Nick Wagoner
            Senior Writer

            With the search for a coaching staff mostly complete, the Rams have begun to turn their attention to the next and perhaps most important step in the process, the teamís roster.

            The NFL scouting combine begins next week and free agency follows the week after but there are a number of important decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

            That process begins this week as teams were allowed to begin making roster moves Monday and the deadline to place a franchise or transition tag on a teamís own free agents is Feb. 19.

            As of now, the Rams have 18 players scheduled to hit the free agent market when it opens on Feb. 27. Of those 18, 15 are unrestricted free agents that can sign anywhere they choose once the market begins.

            Out of that group, there are two players that stand above the rest in terms of importance for the Rams and those two players could complicate issues this week heading toward the tag deadline.

            Free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and cornerback Ron Bartell enjoyed breakout seasons in 2008 and form the foundation of what could be an emerging young secondary. Of course, those breakout seasons just so happened to coincide with their first opportunity to become unrestricted free agents.

            Because of the myriad changes in the front office, including the recent hiring of Kevin Demoff as Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Chief Operating Officer, and the hiring of a new coaching staff, the Rams have had little time to focus on personnel.

            At last monthís Senior Bowl, coach Steve Spagnuolo never made it out of his hotel room and general manager Billy Devaney only did on the final day of practices.

            Early last week, the focus shifted and Devaney has bunkered down to join new Director of Pro Personnel Mike Williams and his staff focus on free agency.

            Negotiations with Bartell and Atogwe have yet to take off but itís believed they will heat up this week.

            Signing that duo is one of the teamís top priorities but it could become a difficult situation should the Rams have to make a decision on placing the franchise tag on one or the other.

            For salary cap purposes Ė the Rams are believed to have around $14 million in cap space Ė tagging Atogwe would be more beneficial than Bartell. The franchise number for a safety is about $6.3 million while the number for a cornerback is almost $10 million.

            Of course, considering that the Rams must budget a little less than half of that open space to the rookie class that must be signed after Aprilís NFL Draft, there wonít be much wiggle room to re-shape the roster with the cap situation as it stands.

            That means Devaney and Spagnuolo will have some difficult choices to make in the coming days in terms of finding ways to create...
            -02-10-2009, 03:46 PM
          • MauiRam
            Nick Wagoner on the Rams and Free Agency ..
            by MauiRam
            By Nick Wagoner
            Senior Writer

            With the search for a coaching staff mostly complete, the Rams have begun to turn their attention to the next and perhaps most important step in the process, the teamís roster.

            The NFL scouting combine begins next week and free agency follows the week after but there are a number of important decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

            That process begins this week as teams were allowed to begin making roster moves Monday and the deadline to place a franchise or transition tag on a teamís own free agents is Feb. 19.

            As of now, the Rams have 18 players scheduled to hit the free agent market when it opens on Feb. 27. Of those 18, 15 are unrestricted free agents that can sign anywhere they choose once the market begins.

            Out of that group, there are two players that stand above the rest in terms of importance for the Rams and those two players could complicate issues this week heading toward the tag deadline.

            Free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and cornerback Ron Bartell enjoyed breakout seasons in 2008 and form the foundation of what could be an emerging young secondary. Of course, those breakout seasons just so happened to coincide with their first opportunity to become unrestricted free agents.

            Because of the myriad changes in the front office, including the recent hiring of Kevin Demoff as Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Chief Operating Officer, and the hiring of a new coaching staff, the Rams have had little time to focus on personnel.

            At last monthís Senior Bowl, coach Steve Spagnuolo never made it out of his hotel room and general manager Billy Devaney only did on the final day of practices.

            Early last week, the focus shifted and Devaney has bunkered down to join new Director of Pro Personnel Mike Williams and his staff focus on free agency.

            Negotiations with Bartell and Atogwe have yet to take off but itís believed they will heat up this week.

            Signing that duo is one of the teamís top priorities but it could become a difficult situation should the Rams have to make a decision on placing the franchise tag on one or the other.

            For salary cap purposes Ė the Rams are believed to have around $14 million in cap space Ė tagging Atogwe would be more beneficial than Bartell. The franchise number for a safety is about $6.3 million while the number for a cornerback is almost $10 million.

            Of course, considering that the Rams must budget a little less than half of that open space to the rookie class that must be signed after Aprilís NFL Draft, there wonít be much wiggle room to re-shape the roster with the cap situation as it stands.

            That means Devaney and Spagnuolo will have some difficult choices to make in the coming days in terms of finding ways to create cap room.

            One...
            -02-10-2009, 03:36 PM
          • eldfan
            Rams VP Kevin Demoff covers the cap, free agency
            by eldfan
            Rams VP Kevin Demoff covers the cap, free agency



            by Carlos Osorio - AP
            The St. Louis Rams would like to see safety Oshiomogho Atowgwe in their future.



            If there is a salary cap in 2010, the Rams will be approximately 35m under the salary, which would be the third most room under the cap in the NFL. There has been some pain this year, but the salary cap should not be the driving force behind any personnel decisions moving forward. This year, we were forced to create a dollar of salary cap room for every dollar of salary cap room spent. That meant making difficult decisions with some talented players, but we made the decisions that we thought were best for the long-term future of this organization.

            Though I don't believe there will be a cap, having $35 million worth of space under the cap is great news. It means that the Rams can really make some strides to fill the big holes on the roster, without having to choose between one position at the expense of the other in the draft. Of course, if it is an upcapped year that means...

            However, if 2010 is uncapped, there will be a limited free agent pool consisting of players with 6 years or more of experience. That will make it harder to sign young, talented players in free agency, the type of player every team wants in free agency. As a result, in an uncapped year, the draft will be paramount, which is one of the reasons we are trying to stockpile picks in the 2010 draft.

            I don't know what his definition of stockpiling is, but so far the Rams have added a 5th round pick from the Eagles in the Witherspoon trade and a 7th round pick from the Falcons in the Tye Hill trade. Those could be packaged to move up in other rounds, of course. I don't know that they'll have much in the way of compensatory picks, since they really didn't lose many free agents of note.

            Which players are up for free agency this year? It depends on the cap situation. Here's the list from Demoff:

            ...eight players...[that] would normally be Unrestricted Free Agents in 2010 who will be Restricted Free Agents in 2010 if there is no salary cap. Those players are as follows: Victor Adeyanju, OJ Atogwe, Alex Barron, Samkon Gado, Gary Gibson, Richie Incognito, Ruvell Martin, Mark Setterstrom. We would have the right to "tender" all of those players as RFA's. There are 6 players who will be UFA's no matter what the cap situation is: Kyle Boller, James Hall, Paris Lenon, Leonard Little, Chris Massey, Randy McMichael.

            We'll talk plenty more about these guys down the road. For now, I'd say you can count on the Rams making an effort to hang onto Atogwe, Gibson, Incognito, Setterstrom, and some combination of Hall and Little. Those last two guys will surely be considering retirement, though they could still be useful as part timers.
            -11-13-2009, 09:21 PM
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