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Los Angeles Rams salary cap situation heading into 2022



The Los Angeles Rams will have to navigate some cap space concerns in the 2022 NFL offseason if they want a shot of heading back to the Super Bowl next year. The Rams are one of a handful of teams currently projected to be over the salary cap for 2022 as things stand at the end of February. With Los Angeles needing to be under the salary cap when the new league year begins on March 16, let’s examine what options they have in the coming weeks.

Rams salary cap outlook for 2022

As it stands on February 26, the Rams are projected to be a touch above $13 million over the 2022 salary cap. That number could change slightly when adjustments from the 2021 season are included, but for the most part, the Rams are going to have to make some moves in the coming days and weeks to get themselves under the cap.

Of course, the Rams likely also want to add some pieces in free agency. If that’s the case, they will need to clear more than just $13 million. There is also the matter of fitting in the salary cap from their draft picks. However, with no picks in the first two rounds and just one in the first two days, their cap commitments from the draft should be relatively minimal.

Rams’ potential salary cap moves ahead of the 2022 NFL league year

Any roster you look at, you can find ways for teams to save cap space. Whether that be cutting players, making trades, restructuring deals, or signing extensions, there are always options. The balance is always finding realistic options that do not tie the teams into players longer than they would like or leave them with dead money in future years that they cannot easily shift.

The good news for the Rams is that they have several options to free up cap space with players that are likely to be on their roster for the foreseeable future.

Matthew Stafford is entering the final year of his deal in 2022

With the Lions eating a large chunk of Matthew Stafford’s salary cap commitments with the trade last year, the Rams’ QB is sitting cheaply at a $23 million cap hit for 2022. However, the Rams still have the opportunity to save cap space on Stafford’s deal. They have two options with which to do this.

The first option is to leave it as a one-year deal but add up to four void years to spread the $23 million in salary, roster bonus, and workout bonus over five years for cap purposes. LA could feasibly take Stafford’s cap number down to around $5.5 million for 2022. However, that would leave them with around $17.5 million in dead money next year regardless of whether he’s on the roster or not.

The second option is to give Stafford an extension. Doing so would allow the Rams and Stafford to structure the contract in the best interest of both the player and team as much as possible. The Rams could feasibly reduce Stafford’s cap number as low as the veteran minimum salary at $1.12 million.

That would be the extreme option. There would be no signing bonus, likely resulting in the Rams having to guarantee huge amounts of money in the next two or three years of the deal. Stafford is currently projected to be worth a four-year, $166 million contract by Spotrac.

Andrew Whitworth appears set to retire

It seems as though Andrew Whitworth is ready to walk away from the game, which will help the Rams’ salary cap immediately. Whitworth is owed $16 million across bonuses and salary this season. If he does retire, the Rams would have to eat $1.67 million in dead money from his signing bonus proration. However, it would free up $16 million in cap space.

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They would have to replace Whitworth, which might require investment. However, Whitworth’s retirement would immediately get the Rams under the salary cap for the new league year.

Will Aaron Donald retire?

At 30 years of age, Aaron Donald has hinted at retirement but nothing is confirmed. Should he retire, the Rams would not see the significant savings they will see if Whitworth retires. Donald would leave the team with a $21.5 million cap number as it stands due to last season’s restructure.

However, if retirement is the plan, then LA could do what the Saints did with Drew Brees. That would involve restructuring the contract to remove the roster bonus and reduce his salary to the veteran minimum. That would mean Donald carries just under a $14 million cap number into the new league year. The Rams could then process the retirement post-June 1, leaving themselves with $12.5 million in 2022 and $9 million in 2023.

If Donald remains with the Rams, they have a few options. A basic restructure would save around $10 million in cap space. They could also work with Donald to change the contract up and add void years to give them greater flexibility later in the deal. There is also the potential of a conventional contract extension. But the savings on that would be the least of the three and does not make sense for a player contemplating retirement.

Elsewhere on the defensive line, they could save some money if they were to do something with A’Shawn Robinson’s contract. Trading or releasing Robinson is an option to save $5.5 million, but it is certainly less than desirable. LA could add further void years and stretch the $9.5 million cap number out between 2022 and 2023. Of course, they could also extend him, especially if Donald decides to walk away.

Jalen Ramsey, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods all offer the opportunity to save cap space for the Rams in 2022

There are a number of options for the Rams with these three players. Jalen Ramsey is currently the highest-paid cornerback in the league with four years remaining on his deal. For that reason, the only option that makes sense is a restructure. Ramsey’s cap number is already high in the remaining years of the deal, but the cap is projected to skyrocket in the coming years. Therefore, the Rams could save another $11 million in cap space in 2022 with a restructure of his $15 million base salary.

Cooper Kupp has two more years left on his deal and will likely get an extension either this offseason or next. Restructuring his deal in 2022 would instantly save $11 million. Then the Rams can deal with the issue of the void years and their cost when they do an extension next year.

An extension for Kupp this offseason would give the Rams some options with his contract. They are locked into a $5 million cap number at a minimum. But after that, the Rams can structure it however they want — as long as Kupp and his agent are happy.

Robert Woods’ injury has made his future uncertain. Still, it would be surprising if he was released ahead of the 2022 league year. He currently has a $15.1 million cap number and would carry $12.1 million in dead money if released. The Rams could save $10 million in cash by moving on ahead of his salary becoming guaranteed on March 20. More likely is they look to restructure his $13.5 million in salary and roster bonus this offseason. Doing so could save close to $10 million.

What other cap space options do the Rams have this offseason?

The Rams have a handful of other options to save cap space. Leonard Floyd is the other high-profile name that could save them over $10 million. LA has the opportunity to save just over $12 million with a restructure. It seems like an easy decision, but doing so would push his cap number up to around $25 million in both 2023 and 2024.

Tight end Tyler Higbee could be released to save $5.2 million in cap space. However, he appears highly valued and more likely sees his deal restructured. The Rams could shift over $4 million into the future if they utilize void years. That option would not push Higbee’s cap number over $10 million next year and means they could release him for less than $6 million in dead money next offseason.

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Which Rookie Draft Pick Has Impressed Cincinnati Bengals DC Lou Anarumo Most?




The Cincinnati Bengals have played only two games, and already, each of their top three draft picks has more snaps at their primary position than 2022 first-round selection Dax Hill had throughout his entire rookie season.

Blocked by veterans Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell, Hill logged just 20 snaps at safety in 19 regular-season and postseason games.

What Has Bengals DC Lou Anarumo Seen From His Rookie Draft Picks?

Through the first two games this season, first-round defensive end Myles Murphy has 32 snaps, second-round cornerback DJ Turner has 59, and third-round safety Jordan Battle has 26.

“I think it’ll pay dividends down the road for sure,” defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said after watching film of the team’s 27-24 loss to the Ravens.

But there are going to be growing pains before those dividends cash, and Anarumo spent some time Monday detailing a couple of plays that illustrate where the rookies are on the learning curve.

Battle got his first significant snaps Sunday when starter Nick Scott left the game injured twice, once in the second quarter and again in the fourth, at which point he was ruled out with a concussion. Anarumo brought up one of Battle’s first plays – a first and 10 at the Baltimore 47 – when asked how the rookie did.

“He’s at the point of attack on one of the runs where he’s standing right in the gap,” Anarumo said. “It’s a simple fit, and he’s kind of soft and playing pass instead of playing run and it’s (8) yards. He’s the free hitter. Nobody blocked him.”

Battle, who is lined up alongside linebackers Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt, looks into the backfield but inexplicably back pedals as Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson hands the ball to running back Justice Hill.

After he reacts and recovers, he misses the tackle on Hill, turning a five-yard run into a gain of eight.

“It’s all lessons learned,” Anarumo said. “Unfortunately, this time of year, it costs you when you have a rookie safety in that situation where they’re a little unsure, and it’s his first time. But he’ll get better and learn from it.”

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Turner has had the most work through the first two games as he rotates with starting corner Chidobe Awuzie as part of a load management program, with Awuzie seeing his first action since tearing his ACL last Halloween. And, for the most part, Turner has played well.

But Anarumo pointed at Turner on a play that was not only the longest but the biggest momentum swing of the game when Jackson hit Zay Flowers for 52 yards one play after Baltimore safety Geno Stone intercepted Joe Burrow at the goal line.

Turner was at left corner on Rashod Bateman. His assignment was to pass him off to Dax Hill and be the help on a deep shot, which in this case went to Flowers with Cam Taylor-Britt in coverage.

“I thought the guys were in really good shape,” Anarumo said. “I thought Cam was there. It was a hell of a throw and catch. DJ could’ve pushed quicker. He ended up getting there. He was about a stride away from being close enough to knock the ball away, so it’s a lesson learned for the rookie there.

“As soon as we do the coverage we did it there, he’s got to go like a bat out of hell and get there,” Anarumo continued. “So he should intercept it, really, at the end of the day. We’re kind of losing a safety and gaining a safety, and he was just a little bit slow.”

Murphy has yet to show up on the stat sheet in either of his first two games. He played 13 snaps against the Browns and 19 against the Ravens. Pro Football Focus credited Murphy with a pressure against Baltimore, but the rookie from Clemson is still looking for his first tackle and quarterback hit.

But Anarumo had a much more positive take on what he’s seen from Murphy.

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“He just keeps getting better each week. You see his speed, you see his athleticism, similar to Dax,” Anarumo said, adding that he doesn’t think Hill would have been able to play this early as a rookie as Murphy has.

“Now that (Hill) has a year under his belt, he’s making plays out there. He’s being aggressive. It’ll be the same for (Murphy), and hopefully he’ll continue to make plays for us as the season goes on this year,” Anarumo said. “We’re gonna have him out there. He’s gonna get his reps. I just think every week is a learning experience for him.”

Whether Battle continues to get snaps will depend on how quickly Scott recovers from his concussion, and Turner’s usage will be tied to when the staff feels comfortable about Awuzie’s recovery to use him full time.

Murphy’s playing time could be contingent on outside forces as well, with Joseph Ossai expected to be back soon, possibly Monday night, from his ankle injury.

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Should I Pick Up the Free Agent RB This Week?




Two Monday Night Football games down. Two soul-crushing season-ending injuries. In Week 1, the football gods claimed Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles. In Week 2, they determined Nick Chubb’s knee must be sacrificed. Unfortunately, fantasy football presses on, and managers must react. Should managers be preemptively adding Kareem Hunt off the waiver wire?

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Should Kareem Hunt Be a Fantasy Waiver Wire Add in Week 3?

It is no surprise to hear many fantasy managers and football fans alike talk about the prospect of the Cleveland Browns bringing back Hunt to replace Chubb. After all, Hunt was there for four years serving as the lightning to Chubb’s thunder.

Although Hunt looked close to finished last season, he’s still only 28 years old. That’s not exactly young for a running back, but it’s possible he just had a bad year and still has some juice left.

We know the Browns are going to sign someone at the running back position. The question is whether the guy they sign is just a warm body to put at the back of the roster as emergency depth or is a legitimate candidate to play meaningful snaps right away. I would classify Hunt as the latter.

As things currently stand, Jerome Ford is set to be the lead back. He played 49% of the snaps against the Steelers, carrying the ball 16 times for 106 yards while adding three catches on four targets for 25 yards and a touchdown.

Ford really should’ve had two touchdowns, but his 69-yard touchdown scamper was overturned on replay, putting him down at the 1-yard line. He was summarily subbed out for Pierre Strong because he was exhausted.

UpdateKareem Hunt is nearing a deal with the Cleveland Browns as of Wednesday morning.

There is no doubt for me that Ford will start this week, regardless of what the Browns do at running back. With that said, if they do sign Hunt, is only a matter of time before he becomes their RB2, possibly playing enough to be fantasy-relevant.

The speculation surrounding Hunt is completely understandable. If fantasy managers have the roster spot available, by all means, grab Hunt and stash him.

Here’s the thing, though. The Browns could have chosen to re-sign Hunt this offseason. They drafted Ford last year and gave him all of eight carries on the season. Clearly, they saw what they had with Ford in practice.

The Browns chose to keep Ford as their RB2 behind Chubb and let Hunt walk. For that reason, I am skeptical they have any interest in bringing Hunt back.

Since the preseason and extending through the first two weeks of the regular season, every running back injury has been met with speculation that the team might sign Hunt or Leonard Fournette.

It is important to remember that all of these teams had all summer to sign Hunt or Fournette and chose not to. I’m not saying it won’t happen eventually, but there have been a lot of signings that weren’t these two guys.

Of course, money plays a factor. Hunt and Fournette are going to demand larger contracts than guys like Tony Jones or Zonovan Knight. But that matters, too.

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Obviously, the Chubb injury is why Hunt’s name is coming up. There are also 31 other teams that could potentially sign Hunt. I do believe one of them will at some point.

With all that said, roster spots are valuable in fantasy football. Injuries are piling up. Bye weeks are looming. It is very difficult to stash guys that have a 0% chance of breaking out due to not being employed by an NFL team.

Given how fresh the news is on Chubb, if you want to put in a waiver claim for Hunt tonight, stash him, and see what transpires over the next few days, go for it. But if Hunt doesn’t sign by the end of the week, I would drop him for someone who could actually break out this weekend. Overall, I would not be prioritizing Hunt on the Week 3 waiver wire.

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