Rams Odds: Could Cap Space May Handcuff Los Angeles?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Rams traded for Matthew Stafford, oddsmakers rocketed up their odds of winning the Super Bowl in 2022 from +3000 to +1100.

According to the PowerPlay website, those odds put them behind only the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers, and alongside the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers amongst the top favorites heading into the 2021 NFL season.

This despite the fact that Stafford has never won a single playoff game as an NFL quarterback and the team seemingly in a terrible salary-cap situation. Jared Goff’s $134-million extension carries $22-million of dead money into this season, and the 2020 release of running back Todd Gurley adds another $12.1-million meaning the team is carrying over $34-million in dead-money charges.

Logic would put the Rams at a considerable disadvantage come free agency, but on closer inspection, we may be seeing otherwise.

When free agency opened last week, the Rams were $33-million over the salary cap, yet by trading Michael Brockers on March 17th to the Lions (a move that saved ~$6.2-million) and restructuring the contracts of Jalen Ramsey, Andrew Whitworth, and Aaron Donald, the team managed to get under the $182.5 million limit without cutting the current roster.

The restructuring of the 15-year veteran tackle Whitworth pushes money out to later years, making it highly unlikely that they will release him. Whitworth was set to have an $11.2-million cap hit in the coming season and was contemplating retirement.

Rams General Manager Les Snead fueled speculation that the team would work on Stafford’s contract when he said he preferred to restructure contracts of key figures than to release players.

“You’ve had to knock on the door of a lot of our key figures, key pillars and ask him to in some cases make sacrifices, in some case adjust their contract to help us get under the cap. The vision right now is to get to the finish line without having to release players.”

According to the NFLPA’s Salary Cap Report, Los Angeles has 64 current contracts and just over $17-million in cap space.

Other candidates for restructuring include wide receivers Cooper Kupp ($14.5-million) and Robert Woods ($13.9-million), defensive tackle Michael Brockers ($9.8-million), and offensive lineman Rob Havenstein ($8.3-million) presumably could be faced with a choice of restructuring or being released.