The Rams Cap Mishandling Has Come Full Circle

Mason Thompson   | March 20th, 2020

$94,000,000. That is the dead cap figure for Jared Goff this year if he were to be released. Thursday, Goff was awarded another $43,000,000 in guarantees from the Rams. This is just one of the blunders in a terrible series of mishandlings of multiple contracts. The biggest now is the Todd Gurley deal with his release Thursday afternoon. Let’s take a look at the long line of contracts handed out by General Manager, Les Snead as well as some trades that have drastically altered the Rams projections for years to come.

Goff and Cooks

Let’s start off with the man behind center, and the man who now owns a $94 million dollar dead cap hit with another $43 million in his pocket. Goff signed a massive four-year extension on September 3rd, for $134,000,000, including an astronomical $110,000,000 in guarantees, the most in the league at the time of the signing. He led the Rams to the Super Bowl in 2018, but in 2019 he regressed severely. Goff had his worst year since becoming the starter midway through his rookie campaign while throwing for the most attempts in his career while being sacked the least amount in his career. He might not have had all his weapons on the field together but Goff deserves some blame.

In July 2018, the Rams signed recently acquired receiver, Brandin Cooks to a five-year contract worth $81,000,000 with over $50 million guaranteed. Cooks formed a great trio for Goff alongside Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Now, Los Angeles is trying to find a trade partner for Cooks to relieve some cap spending and recover their lost draft picks.

Gurley and the O-Line

Now, let’s look at the recently released Gurley. Many fantasy owners fell in love with him as he singlehandedly won millions of fantasy players championships, including myself. In July of 2018, Gurley was awarded a four-year extension worth $60 million with over $45 million in guarantees. Since then, he hasn’t been himself after the Rams potentially used him too much in 2018. With the Rams up against the wall, they had no choice but to release their star running back. The team tried to find a trade partner to get some draft capital but couldn’t do so. If Gurley had stayed on the team a whole 15 minutes longer, he would’ve been awarded another $10.5 million in guarantees, further making it impossible for the Rams to ship him elsewhere. Instead, Les Snead swallowed the pill of making a horrible decision and cut him, accepting the dead cap which will be spread out over the next two years.

Related to Gurley is the rapid decline of the Rams offensive line. In 2017 and 2018, the Rams offensive line was unstoppable and helped Gurley to an MVP favorite both years. Thanks to the massive overspending for Goff, Gurley, and Cooks, the Rams lost several members of their offensive line. The Rams had no cap space and eventually had to settle on players starting from late day two selections as well as day three selections in the draft due to a lack of draft picks(more on that later).

Even with the news of the team being tight against the cap, the team has made several moves already in free agency this week. The team re-signed left tackle, Andrew Whitworth to a three-year deal worth $30 million with $12.5 million guaranteed. This move means the Rams will be paying Whitworth something until he’s 41, even if he’s retired. Instead of bringing back Dante Fowler, the team opted to take a lesser player in Leonard Floyd on a one-year deal worth up to $13.5 million. A’Shawn Robinson was also signed to soften the loss of Michael Brockers. The team lost star linebacker, Cory Littleton, and are now in desperate need of a linebacker, with no first-round pick to solve the need.

Bad Trades

At the trade deadline, the Rams traded away star cornerback, Marcus Peters to the Ravens for a fifth-round pick and Kenny Young, who is currently a depth linebacker. That trade resembles something that Bill O’Brien would do as well. The reason for the Peters trade? The Rams traded away not just their first-round pick this year, but their first-rounder next year as well. Not only are they without these picks, but they also have to pay Ramsey while being against the wall with spending money with other players to sign as well if they want to have any chance at making the most out of this window of opportunity they have if it is still open at all.

After this season, the Rams have a ton of decisions to make. Recently signed, Leonard Floyd is up for another contract but that isn’t the biggest of their worries. As I said before, Ramsey is due a contract from the Rams and if they don’t get something done, they will have given up two first-round picks for nothing. Ramsey’s partner in the secondary, John Johnson is also up for a contract, as well as starter, Samson Ebukam. That isn’t it though. With Gurley gone and Cooks potentially out the door, Kupp will mean more than ever to the success of Goff. Well, he also happens to have a contract that needs an extension after next year along with Josh Reynolds. They will also be trying to address their current needs with a lack of a first-round pick for the next two years.

The Rams last used a first-round selection in the draft in 2016 on Goff. They have traded out of the first-round since 2017 and don’t have one the next two years thanks to the Ramsey trade. With a need at running back, holes all over the offensive line, a desperate need at linebacker, as well as a cornerback opposite of Ramsey, the Rams have found themselves in a bit of trouble. It is a bold decision to fork out a contract as they did to Gurley, but that isn’t the main root of their problems. The Goff deal was the main reason for the release of Gurley. The Rams could’ve taken the Cowboys approach and waited until after the season to evaluate Goff. Instead, he had a down year as the team regressed and is now void of his star running back and behind an abysmal offensive line and a deteriorating defense.

There is a big difference between good and great General Managers. Snead falls somewhere in between. While he may have made some amazing decisions early in his tenure like selecting Aaron Donald and Gurley in the first rounds, he has since conducted awful contract extensions while putting the team against the wall where they have no decision but to release or trade their star playmakers to sign another weapon to another record-breaking deal. Instead of sitting back in free agency this week and waiting to spend money until next year on their star cornerback and receiver, the team already spent on an edge rusher labeled as a bust, a 38-year-old left tackle who they’ll be paying for the next three years, and a defensive tackle while they have a desperate hole at linebacker. 

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