Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Still Spending, Even with Tight Cap

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Still Spending, Even with Tight Cap

Article excerpt

One year ago, the Rams spent a potential $98 million in the opening days of free agency by signing cornerback Cortland Finnegan (Tennessee), center Scott Wells (Green Bay) and defensive tackle Kendall Langford (Miami).

This year was a tight salary cap year for the Rams, but over the first six days of free agency, they have still spent a potential $79.35 million on left tackle Jake Long (Miami) and tight end Jared Cook (Tennessee), and in re-signing defensive end William Hayes.

Throw in incentives and escalator clauses for Long, Cook and Hayes, and those three contracts could max out at a combined $87.65 million. Say what you will about Stan Kroenke, but he hasn't been shy about committing dollars to improve the team.

Long was widely considered the top offensive tackle on the market; Cook was considered one of the top if not the best of the tight ends available. So they were big "gets," but those two moves have all but tapped out the Rams on the salary cap.

Latest figures from the NFL Players Association show the Rams with 50 players either under contract or tendered as restricted or exclusive rights free agents. And the money expended for those 50 players, plus dead money (money that counts against the cap for players no longer on the team), leaves the Rams with a little over $1 million in cap room.

So except for some veteran minimum contracts, the Rams are pretty much out of the free agent business for 2013. Even so, they will need to do something most likely restructure the contract of one of their big-money players in order to have enough cap room to sign their draft picks.

Even though Long's contract averages $8.5 million a year, and Cook's averages $7.02 million a year, they were structured to be cap friendly in 2013. Long counts a modest $4.25 million and Cook counts only $4 million against the cap in '13. Otherwise, the Rams wouldn't have been able to sign them both.

Here's a thumbnail look at the contracts of the new Rams and re- signed Rams, as well as those of Rams who signed elsewhere in free agency:

NEW RAMS

JAKE LONG, OT (Miami)

Basics: 4 years, $34 million. (Includes $5 million signing bonus, $15 million guaranteed.)

Extras: An additional $2. …

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