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Offseason Primer

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Well, were almost 2/3 through the regular season, and just because this team is good now doesnt mean Im going to stop looking forward to the offseason. Now, Im not going to jump into full Free Agency, and Im definitely not ready for the end of the 2nd round of the draft at this point, but there has already been talk about what we need and who we might lose, so Im just using this as an outlook to what is ahead. And hopefully this is useful to all you mock drafters when we do make it to the offseason. I will update this when information changes, but this is all where we stand before Thanksgiving. And Im mostly sticking to factual information, so we can talk freely about needs as those are more subjective.


Salary Cap

The biggest elephant in the room is what will the salary Cap be? Well by the time we get to most of the offseason mocks there will be more clarity here, but for now, many will see/use that $175m number. Lets actually address that right now, I have massive doubts that the Cap will fall that low. The $175m number is the absolute floor of what the Cap will be, not an already negotiated number. So now that the baseline is established, lets talk about what teams were expecting for 2021 before Covid. Most were expecting the Cap to make a significant jump, some even thought as high as $215m (and the little secret here is that this is a lagging number). So if if you take out the Cap growth, even a flat Cap would be a reduction in somewhere between $5-$17m to what was expected, so lets just meet in the middle and call it a non-covid cap of $208m, and a reduction of $10m already. So the other part here i that if they would drop to $175, nearly 1/3 of the league would already be over the cap. The owners/GMs just arent going to let that happen, especially as so many marquee and contending teams would be in such trouble. So with all that said, another belief out there is a $190m cap for 2021, which seems more realistic, but that would still leave a few major contenders over the cap, and a few more right up against it. So personally, I think to appease all sides, we will end up with a flat Cap for 2021, and likely flat again for 2022 (maybe even 2023) to spread it out over a few seasons. But to be fair, for this exercise, we will meet in the middle with a $195m Salary Cap for 2021.

So where does that leave the Rams? Well assuming the $195m, adding in the $8.3m of Cap rollover from 2021, we are looking at a Total Salary Cap of $203.3m. But we are currently looking at $192m in active roster contracts, PLUS the $8.6m in dead money (mostly Gurley) and we are suddenly sitting at only about $2.5m in cap space... Not that great, but there are a few moves to make. Unfortunately now, there is a most obvious move after the the injury from this past week, but we will explore all of them;


Andrew Whitworth - 2 years $23.33m remaining 

  • Whits 2021 Roster Bonus ($2.5m) is already guaranteed
  • Has a total of $3.33m of his Signing Bonus remaining
  • IF he were to be cut, it would save us $5.33m in 2021
  • it would also save $12.166m in 2022

This obviously depends on the severity of his injury. Its not an ACL, so its probably not Career ending. While Ive heard many talk about maybe being back by the playoffs this year, that would be great! But that PCL injury is just as scary as an ACL for a big man. If we think he can still contribute in 2021, we might not make the move, because cutting and resigning him wouldnt end up saving us all that much ($2-3m?), but maybe this is a restructure of his base salary, with some games played/started incentives? Especially if he doesnt come back this season, and has to prove that he can still play at a high level.

Michael Brockers - 2 years $14m remaining

  • Brockers 2021 Roster Bonus ($1.5m) is already guaranteed 
  • Has a total of $2.66m of his Signing Bonus remaining
  • IF he were to be cut, it would save us $5.33m in 2021
  • it would also save $10.8m in 2022

Personally I dont see them moving on from Brockers already, but Im being fair, and giving you all the facts, because I assume most of you will use this chance to cut him in your mocks. And to be completely transparent Im not exactly sure of the future ramifications of Robinsons deal after we made the changes for this year. But as far as I can tell, we wouldnt save anything in 2021 by cutting him (might even cost us) so Brockers would be the move if we were going to do so on the DL.

Rob Havenstien - 2 years $14m remaining

  • Rob a total of $1.6m of his Signing Bonus remaining
  • Also has a total of $1.56m of his Restructure Bonus remaining
  • IF he were to be cut, it would save us $5.17m in 2021
  • it would also save $8.83m in 2022

I wasnt ever thinking about cutting Rob, but the thought of trading him away from a pick or player (like a Rusher) was very appealing as I started this. But now with the Whit injury, Im much less excited about the idea. So unless Noteboom comes out these next 7-10 games and looks like a bookend Tackle, and we think Whit could be a good RT when returning next year, then I think we will be hanging onto Rob for atleast 1 more season. But I do think he is a future Trade Candidate at some point to re-coup some draft capital.

Tyler Higbee - 3 years $20.8m remaining

  • Higbees 2021 Roster Bonus ($3m) is already guaranteed 
  • Has a total of $1.8m of his Signing Bonus remaining
  • IF he were to be cut, it would save us $2.3m in 2021
  • it would also save $6.85 m in 2022 & 2023

Sure he's been underwhelming this year, but that feels mostly to do with splitting the targets with Everett. Speaking of, GE will be a free agent (which we will get to in a bit) and I doubt we move on from both TEs in one offseason, especially to save such little money. Now as we look to the 2022 offseason, Higbee will be a prime candidate to move on from (over $5m in savings) if he doesnt take the Ram by the horns as the main TE. But he is still an option, or could even restructure if we needed a bit of room

Johnny Hekker - 3 years $14.4m remaining

  • Hekker has a total of $495k of his Signing Bonus remaining
  • Has a total of $1.8m of his Restructure Bonus remaining
  • IF he were to be cut, it would save us $2.6m in 2021
  • it would also save $4.7m in 2022 & 2023

I mean theres just no way we get rid of the best weapon in the league. But he does have alot of base salary left in his deal that could be converted to Signing Bonus, which Im sure he would welcome, as it would guarantee more dollars, tying him to the team for more years, and he has shown before that he is willing to.

I mentioned with a few of these players could potentially be restructure candidates, and honestly pretty much anyone with a 2nd contract could do that, but there are 2 major ones to call out. They are pretty obvious, but Aaron Donald could be a pretty easy restructure this year if we had an impact player to grab. At minimum we could take his $8m signing bonus hit for 2021, and spread it out over the next 4 years, finding an additional $6m in Cap room for 2021. He would probably like it as well, as a restructure also starts to add guaranteed dollars to the final 2 years of his deal. Obviously just like this year, we can always move money around with Goff, as he is likely here for the next 3 years no matter what. And if were really in a pinch, we can always start shifting money with the Ramsey, Woods, or Kupp new deals. Although, Id be hesitant to jump into that money movement with Ramsey, as who knows when that time bomb will go off.

So Im projecting a bunch of restructures, not necessarily cuts to this roster. If we rework Whit, Hekker, Donald and Goff, that can get us around an extra $15m+ on the cap, for a total of about $18m. We will really be tightroping for 2021.


Free Agents

I will list all of the upcoming Free Agents, and give my quick thoughts on each, but as you can tell, with minimal Cap Space, its going to be difficult to hang onto many of these guys

Leonard Floyd - He's been a fun addition to the defense, but I dont see how we make any other moves if we try to keep him. As hot and cold as Floyd runs, I cant agree with giving him a long term deal. Let someone else commit those long term dollars to him and collect the pick in the '22 draft (likely to be a 4th, probably wont get the same AAV as Fowler did, since there are better caliber Edge guys on the market)

John Johnson III - We all know that this defense doesnt need to spend big money on Safeties, and many of us are taking that Social Media post earlier in the season as a sign that the negotiations have broken down. With the young talent we have already amassed in the secondary and more impactful players needing the Cap allocation, time to let him walk and collect the pick again (Id predict a 4th as well here, but Im not as confident, there are alot of good Safeties coming up on FA, depends on how many stay with their current teams)

Troy Hill - While he really started to emerge in the second half of last year, he hasnt made the big jump this season. He is still a solid Corner, but he has for sure been surpassed by DWill (who we will get to in a min) on this defense. In a normal offseason, I would like to keep more of the secondary together, but in this crunch Hill probably gets #2 CB money elsewhere. Not sure if its enough to get us a Comp Pick, if anything it wouldnt be more than a 6th, but at the very least he could be a nice offset contract for anyone we need to add.

Darious Williams (RFA) - Guy has been a baller this year, and we need to keep him around. Maybe that comes with actually giving him a long term contract already, since the RFA tender is going to cost us $3-$4 in 2021. Not sure we could get all that much of a break, but if you could knock even $2m off that Cap number and have it grow in the following few years, it could be very helpful.

Morgan Fox - Hes been a nice little rotational uy, nothing special, but has started to show up this year more than any other time in his career. Wouldnt make him any more than a minimum offer, but wouldnt be a bad option to keep around for depth. Although this could obviously a spot to replace with a rookie deal and save alittle bit of money, but not that much in the end.

Samson Ebukam - Next! Im sure thats how everyone here feels. Hes just not lived up to even the lowest of expectations, and will likely be fighting to be a special teamer/backup elsewhere. Wont even help out in the Comp formula for us.

Josh Reynolds - The guy has talent, but hes just never broken out. Someone will fall in love with those measurables all over again and likely over pay him (not that we could even give him fair market value) but he is definitely on the way out. Unfortunately there are quite a few talented WRs scheduled to be on the market, so lets hope some of those guys return to their teams, and Reynolds gets a big deal from some team who missed out on the top guys. Definitely should get us a Comp pick, a 4th would be great, but unlikely. Temper the expectations and lets hope for a 5th here.

Malcolm Brown - I am appreciative of what he brings to us, but that is just a limited skill set. And now that we have 2 dynamic young runners, theres just no place for him. Although Im sure he will latch on somewhere, especially with all the messy backfields around the league. But his earning potential (and therefore his Comp pick impact) is as limited as his skillset. I would just about guarantee that he wont get us a pick, but it would be nice for him to get a few Mill in AAV to help us offset a solid pickup for us somewhere else on the roster.

Gerald Everett - Ive been advocating to move on from GE for a year now. Not because he isnt good, but because we decided to pay Higbee and we are muddling up the TE situation. While Higbee might be disappointing this year, we cant really get out of that contract till next year. Plus its not like Everett is lighting the world on fire either, he is just as infuriating as Higbee, because his talent should make him such a better weapon. So while the jewel of TE free agency is Hunter Henry (and who knows if he gets away from the Chargers) Everett and Jonu Smith are the best options out there under 30. I think GE could net us a Comp pick, it just wont be a very high one. Im hoping for a 6th rounder at this point.

Johnny Mundt (RFA) - A decent 3rd TE, but nothing more, and in no way is he worth a tender. If no one else picks him up, then Id welcome him back on the minimum, but hes really just a blocker, and not a weapon. Which is what Im expecting them to push Brycen Hopkins into the 2nd TE weapon role next year, and hopefully taking over the top spot in 2022 when we can cut Higbee.

Austin Blythe - Here is the hardest decision I think we have as a franchise in the 2021 offseason. While we got the 1 year deal last year, thats unlikely to happen again, as he has solidified the OL, and has continued to grade out at a high level. Especially if we are up in the air with what we can get out of Whit and/or if Noteboom disappoints, then keeping Blythe becomes even more crucial. Do we think Corbett can handle the Center spot? If Noteboom is solid at LT, and Whit could slide to Guard, maybe thats an option, but that is quite the risk. If he were to go, hes likely getting us some Comp capital, probably a 6th. But the better this line looks, the more I lean toward us needing to keep him.

Jake McQuaide - He has been so solid for us for so long. But if we can walk away from Greg, we can definitely walk away from a Long Snapper. If for some reason he is OK with the same exact contract he currently has, then maybe bring him back? But its more likely we Priority UDFA a college guy to take over.


2021 NFL Draft

  • Round1 - Traded to JAX (Jalen Ramsey) 
  • Round 2 - Own our Pick
  • Round 3 - Own our Pick + Projected Comp (for Dante Fowler)
  • Round 4 - Traded to JAX + Projected Comp (for Cory Littleton)
  • Round 5 - Traded to CLE (Austin Corbett)
  • Round 6 - Own our Pick
  • Round 7 - Own our Pick

Just to Recap thats; 2nd + 3rd + 3rd (Comp) + 4th (Comp) + 6th + 7th 

  • Budget between $4.5 - $5m for Rookie Salaries
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I appreciate laying the context for folks that, while it might be fun fantasy to say "cut this guy for cap space," it's just plain not all that realistic.  And, let's be real, most of us could do with less stress these days than more, so not getting all worked up over "very likely unrealistic" flights of fancy saves on the potential stress.

With Havenstein, I think it comes down to how the team feels about Bobby Evans.  Is he, by and large, capping out at a "dependable swing tackle," who really doesn't have a starting future?  If they don't feel Evans has the ceiling to be a multi-year starter, then you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater (the baby being Rob in this case), because we've seen how floundering this offense looks with a discombobulated OL and Havenstein may be slightly overpaid for what he consistently puts out, but you're paying that slight premium for continuity (and teams do that all across the league all the time).

I do feel that one of Hav or Blythe, safely assuming they are kept (and for that reason, I'd lay a mid-to-AA-starter's AAV in front of Blythe, but an out-year in Y3 or Y4 - or else you put a similar deal in front of Corbett).  The 2022 OL class has very good depth, particularly if you're not demanding a Y1 starter and can take a season or two to bed in a player.  As such, I'd expect to see an IOL - probably a versatile one, but one that has eyes towards being the long-term center for the line.

Floyd has been effective here, but I feel like he also serves as proof that - particularly so long as AD continues at the level he's been at for a while now - there isn't a huge need to commit premier money to the EDGE until it's at a time that is quite comfortable for the franchise to do so.  So long as Staley is here, I think we'll see the agents of EDGE players wanting/needing to rebuild their resume to go after a fat(ter) contract steer their clients towards us, because they can be confident their guy will be playing in a system where he enjoys the benefit of not being the guy opposing OC's have to account for first, and while also having a secondary and a scheme in place that will keep opposing QB's puzzled enough to stay that extra second in the pocket needed to be there for at least an above-average sack-total among peers.  You still take your chances, if they come to you, in the draft or off-waivers, but you don't overcommit, because you don't need to.  It's not dissimilar to how both Carroll and Belichick managed their defenses for close to a decade.  i could see someone the like of Ryan Kerrigan (if Washington decides to move on), Trent Murphy, or Everson Griffen (I'm expecting a total Detroit overhaul) having interest in such a "rehab contract."  The pipe dream, of course, is Von Miller, but I refuse to give that more than a passing thought of fancy and leave it to the utter joy I'd experience if by some massive miracle it were to materialize, as he's likely to be released by the Broncos being owed $22M and coming off a serious injury.

It will suck to lose JJJ, but if Fuller (someone I was, fully owning, skeptical of the pick initially) has shown in spades: This FO and coaching staff knows how to draft safeties well and the scheme is very specific about the type of safety it requires and what the criteria are on the checklist to fulfill in order to qualify for consideration.  Hopefully Rapp steps up into a more prominent role.  If not, I have complete trust in our staff to find another gem like Fuller, that slips through the cracks because he wasn't the "sexy pick," on the 2nd or 3rd day of the draft.

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One other thing - and this shows how much I've been paying attention to other teams outside of ours and fantasy football - evidently the Falcons fired Thomas Dmitroff back in October.  Given his closeness with Les, I'd say that, unless he gets another GM gig immediately, that's a stone we're at least going to kick to see if it rolls.  Though, I also won't be surprised if he gets an interim studio analyst gig with NFLN, especially considering how good of friends he is with Rich Eisen.

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It's too early for me to have dove into the draft, but I will say that I'd really like to see us grab Tamorrion Terry. He's being slept on in a major way right now. If that guy is available in the 3rd round, I'd sprint to the podium to draft him. The one thing our offense is missing right now is a deep threat, and Terry can absolutely fly. Things at FSU were a complete dumpster fire this year, and he's paying for his decision to return to school.

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Fwiw, I'm not sure how many gms have offered their thoughts on it, but a few weeks ago John lynch said he thought the cap would fall somewhere between 180-190. 

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