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Los Angeles Rams salary cap situation heading into 2022

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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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Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State

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Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson, despite his production and his scouting report, remains one of the more underrated receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s a deep class that can work to Hutchinson’s detriment. But looking at the tape, he has the tools to secure a role early in the NFL.

Xavier Hutchinson NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • School: Iowa State
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″, 205 pounds

Quietly, Xavier Hutchinson has been one of the most productive receivers in college football since 2020. He has almost 3,000 receiving yards over that span and has been a target funnel for an Iowa State passing attack that’s relied almost entirely on his presence.

Seeing his production, you’d almost be surprised that Hutchinson wasn’t a highly-coveted recruit out of high school. As a matter of fact, Hutchinson had to take the JUCO route to the FBS level.

Two years at Blinn JC helped get Hutchinson onto the map. After a sophomore season that saw him catch 47 passes for 652 yards and five touchdowns, he started to field offers from Power Five teams as a JUCO transfer. Oklahoma, Utah, TCU, and Nebraska all offered Hutchinson, but he chose to stay in Iowa and signed with the Cyclones.

Since then, Hutchinson has known nothing but production. He caught 64 passes for 771 yards and four scores in 2020. 83 catches for 987 yards and five scores in 2021. And in 2022, he’s amassed career-highs in all categories, with 105 catches for 1,160 yards and six touchdowns.

A 2022 Biletnikoff semifinalist with massive numbers to his name, it’s a foregone conclusion that Hutchinson will see the field on Sundays. But how does he project, and where might he come off the board in April?

Xavier Hutchinson Scouting Report

Production, size, experience — Hutchinson passes a lot of the surface-level eye tests. But does his profile hold up when we put it under the microscope? Let’s dive in.

Hutchinson’s Positives

Whether you use film or analytics as your primary mode of evaluation, you’ll find that Hutchinson checks a lot of boxes. We’ve already noted his production, and as one might expect, he’s a very well-rounded receiver on the field.

First and foremost, Hutchinson brings solid size and athletic ability. He’s a well-built receiver with great height and weight and has great accelerative capacity off the line.

He can gear up quickly with urgent steps and shows off good burst upfield when attacking space or surging inside on mesh and drag routes. And while he’s not a burner downfield, he does have enough speed to stack DBs with long-strider acceleration.

Expanding on Hutchinson’s athletic skill set, the Iowa State WR possesses good lateral twitch and loose hips in space. He’s shown he can sink to a degree and levy quick cuts to create space and disrupt tackling angles. He’s also able to press upfield at sharp angles out of cuts after starting horizontally.

To a degree, Hutchinson’s athleticism translates to good natural route running potential. He flashes smooth lateral athleticism at stems and can square up defenders with split releases, then roll his hips and stack upfield.

The Cyclones star has the loose hips and lateral agility to cut stems quickly and attack sharp angles, and he can also press upfield, tempo his advance into stems, and explode laterally on out routes.

Overall, Hutchinson has above-average timing and zone awareness as a route runner. He can sneak into blind spots and attack open windows. Additionally, he’s shown he can manipulate DBs with lateral twitch and stride variations on double-moves.

Plus, he can use a dead-leg move to freeze DBs at the stem. In a similar vein, Hutchinson can manipulate DBs with initial attack angles before displacing laterally and exploding upfield.

Hutchinson’s lateral agility, for his size, allows him to gain separation with relative ease, as well as line up in the slot or on the boundary. But what truly accentuates his profile as one with early-round upside is his elite catching instincts. Hutchinson is extremely natural at the catch point and impressively consistent across different situations.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

Hutchinson can naturally corral short passes over the middle of the field in-stride, cradling with his hands. He’s also shown he can elevate and extend beyond his frame to bring in high passes, and he actively clamps down with his hands to secure throws.

The Iowa State WR has excellent ball-tracking ability downfield as well. He can roam under passes and guide with his hands while extending beyond his frame, and he very naturally adjusts to passes high or behind him with smooth body control.

Hutchinson can make high-difficulty adjustments with little response time as a catcher. He flashes especially absurd focus and coordination on deflected passes, as he can instantly recalibrate and reposition himself.

Hutchinson’s hands also enable him to convert in these situations. His hand/eye coordination is exceptional in high-difficulty situations, and he consistently uses diamond technique to get his hands in the right spot.

Hutchinson’s proven he can secure passes with his hands while diving or making catches from other points of imbalance. In these instances, he showcases exceptional hand strength when working amidst contact and can maintain possession through the catch process.

His hands are authoritative in 50-50 situations, and he seeks out the ball with zeal. But he also makes an effort to keep the ball away from his frame, minimizing body-catching before securing and protecting the ball with his frame.

With his size, Hutchinson has proven he can get an edge on defenders with targeted physicality, play strength, and frame usage. Over the middle of the field, he’s able to secure passes amidst contact. But he can also use proactive, targeted physicality to pry past defenders at stems.

He’ll utilize double swipes to compound separation before breaking inside, and he can sync his swipes with lateral moves to maximize space.

This physicality and play strength shows up after the catch as well. While Hutchinson doesn’t often bounce off first contact, he can fight and step through arm tackles and recollect his feet to carry acceleration forward. Moreover, he can reset his feet quickly after catches to align himself for contact, and he has the size and leg drive to churn through solo tackles for decent yardage.

Lastly, Hutchinson is, at the very least, a willing blocker who can square up defenders and use his frame to box out opponents on running plays.

Hutchinson’s Areas for Improvement

While Hutchinson is a solid overall athlete for his size, he might not be elite in any one physical area.

Hutchinson doesn’t have elite explosiveness upfield or out of breaks, and he lacks elite deep speed, showing a visible cap in downfield range. Moreover, Hutchinson lacks the elite agility, foot speed, and twitch to immediately sink, decelerate, and evade tackles after securing throws in stride. When aiding direction changes, he can’t always uncoil quickly after gaining momentum.

Hutchinson’s non-elite athletic traits don’t tank his upside in the NFL, but they do necessitate further growth as a route runner because the margin for error may be a bit smaller for him.

At times, Hutchinson can be more disciplined pressing upfield ahead of stems on quick hitches and comebacks. He sometimes drifts back a bit after breaking, and he’ll also rotate around on quick breaks, failing to freeze DBs.

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Overall, Hutchinson is a bit tall and upright as a route runner and lacks elite hip sink. Naturally, he can be a bit sharper and more efficient with transitions at times. He occasionally unhinges his hips too early at stems, keying in DBs on breaks. On a related note, he can be more consistent squaring up at stems to hold DBs, and he sometimes drifts a bit on vertical paths.

Hutchinson can seek more efficiency with his usage of physicality as well. Although he’s fairly proficient at using targeted physicality, he occasionally gets too grabby in contact situations, risking offensive pass interference.

Among other things, Hutchinson doesn’t have the elite hand strength to consistently convert on acrobatic one-handed opportunities, and he sometimes lets the ball bounce free at contact with the ground.

While he has decent length, his proportional length is middling and slightly limits his catch radius. And as a blocker, he sometimes only seeks to obstruct and doesn’t sustain blocks or engage with hands.

Current Draft Projection for Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson

Hutchinson grades as a solid Day 2 prospect at the wide receiver position. Within that range, there may be some variance based on team preferences and individual evaluations. But Hutchinson is undoubtedly deserving of consideration in the top 100, and a strong offseason — with Senior Bowl and NFL Combine showings on deck — could move him up.

Hutchinson has good size, decent length, and a solid overall athletic skill set. Although he plays a bit tall at times as a route runner, he has the necessary lateral agility, twitch, hip fluidity, and burst to create separation. He has enough juice as a long-strider to stack DBs. And few WRs in the 2023 NFL Draft are better than Hutchinson at the catch point.

Since he’s not a quantifiably elite athlete, Hutchinson should work to keep refining his route running efficiency at the next level. There’s still some wasted motion at times, and he can work to expand his route tree and release package a bit more.

But there’s enough there already — he has enough foot speed and sink to work with. And Hutchinson can also be a RAC threat in space with his play strength, leg churn, and lateral agility.

As a movement Z who can man both the slot and the boundary, Hutchinson presents a lot of projected appeal. He can win in one-on-one situations or use space to his advantage. On Day 1, he can be a valuable addition to a WR rotation, and he has enough physical upside to develop into an above-average NFL starter with safety blanket value.



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Reese’s Senior Bowl Invites 2023

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Stay up to date with the entire list of athletes that have accepted their 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl invites and their lead-up to the 2023 NFL Draft.



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Is It Time for Fantasy Managers To Trust Hollins?

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The quickest way to fall behind in a fantasy football league is to become complacent and rely on the team you drafted, neglecting the all-important waiver wire. As managers make numerous waiver claims for Week 13 hoping to strengthen their roster, should Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Mack Hollins be a priority addition off the waiver wire vs. the Chargers?

Mack Hollins Has Another Solid Performance Against the Seahawks

Like many, the 2022 season has been a bit of a roller coaster for Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Mack Hollins. However, the 6’4″ fifth-year receiver has quietly put together a sneaky good résumé that fantasy football managers need to pay attention to while submitting waiver wire claims for Week 13.

Playing on 96% of the Raiders’ snaps on Sunday, Hollins has a 100% route participation and sat second behind only Davante Adams amongst wide receivers in targets with five. While low in volume, he made them count. Hollins hauled in four of those passes for 63 yards and scored his third touchdown of the season to finish with just over 16 PPR points as the WR20 on the week. It’s the second game in a row as a top-36 receiver and his fourth since their Week 6 bye.

MORE: Top Week 13 Waiver Wire Targets

Do you think Hollins can ride the momentum? Well, over on Underdog Fantasy, you can take the higher or lower on Hollins’ projections as part of their Pick’em contest and win up to 20x in the process. Sign up at Underdog Fantasy today for a 100% deposit bonus of up to $100.

But things get interesting when you look at the breakdown for Hollins when acting as the Raiders’ No. 2 option. In the five games without wide receiver Hunter Renfrow this year, Hollins has averaged 7.2 targets, 4.6 receptions, and 64.8 receiving yards. That’s double-digit fantasy points before we even factor in any touchdowns.

Sunday marked Hollins’ third game with 50+ yards in his last five weeks, and his 531 yards on the season now have him tied for 36th at the position. With likely one more week without Renfrow and Darren Waller in the lineup, is Hollins a clear-cut waiver wire target or a roster clogger?

Should Mack Hollins Be a Top Waiver Wire Priority for Fantasy Managers in Week 13?

Like the on-field performances, the waiver wire each week can be up and down. Some weeks there are tons of talent, and others, there’s only a little out there. But if you need a receiver, Week 13 could treat you well.

I would undoubtedly have Hollins on this list. There is enough of a pattern in his performances as the No. 2 to warrant a certain level of security as a flex option. Although it is not the easiest of matchups, the Los Angeles Chargers are 15th in DVOA, 25th in EPA/dropback, 19th in success rate per dropback, and 28th in points allowed on the season (27.51) but 20th over the last four games (24.55).

With that said, the Chargers are No. 3 in DVOA vs. No. 2 wide receivers thanks to Asante Samuel Jr. and Brian Callahan stepping up after losing prized free agent acquisition J.C. Jackson.

As a depth option, Hollins makes sense off the waiver wire and likely won’t get you into a bidding war, as he is rostered in just 12.5% of leagues and could go a bit under the radar. Having said that, he is not the top player I would look to target.

MORE: Early Week 13 Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendations

At RB, Kyren Williams, Gus Edwards, Isiah Pacheco, Zonovan Knight, and JaMycal Hasty need to be rostered. Additionally, Benny Snell Jr. and Darrell Henderson are in the mix, too. At receiver, there is even more with Treylon Burks, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Zay Jones, Michael Gallup, Elijah Moore, Nico Collins, and Isiah McKenzie available. Even George Pickens is rostered in only 64% of leagues.

While Hollins is an intriguing player in games where the Raiders are missing depth, he’s never going to be the No. 1 and will be, at best, the No. 3 behind Davante Adams and Waller. Players like Pickens, Burks, DPJ, Jones, and Gallup all present a higher ceiling and a better rest-of-season value due to more security in their individual roles.

Hollins does carry some value, though, which makes him worth a look in deeper leagues, but there are others I prefer over him in most formats. And as always, it’s all dependent on your league’s availability.



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