The Los Angeles Rams have made a pair of big signings this offseason, first bringing in wide receiver Allen Robinson and then linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Due to a lack of cap space, the Rams have had to get creative when structuring some of their contracts this summer with quarterback Matthew Stafford being among those to sign a team-friendly extension.
Wagner, in particular, was a huge get for the Rams and it was originally reported that he signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the team.
That is another contract that was expected to be creative and now that the full details are out, it certainly is. The deal is incentive-laden and severely backloaded with minor guarantees, which is why the Rams are able to bring in a player of Wagner’s caliber.
The full details of the contract also show that it may not end up being more than a one or two-year deal for Wagner and the Rams depending on how things go. A huge thank you to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who was able to obtain Wagner’s full contract with the Rams and explain it in layman’s terms:
Reported as a five-year, $50 million deal, the contract pays out $6.5 million in 2022, with another $3.5 million guaranteed in 2023.
Here are the full details:
1. Signing bonus: $5 million.
2. 2022 base salary: $1.5 million, fully guaranteed.
3. 2023 90-man roster bonus: $3.5 million, fully guaranteed as of April 8, 2022.
4. 2023 base salary: $7.5 million.
5. 2024 90-man roster bonus: $2.5 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the 2023 league year.
6. 2024 base salary: $8.5 million.
7. 2025 90-man roster bonus: $2.5 million.
8. 2025 base salary: $8 million.
9. 2025 90-man roster bonus: $2.5 million.
10. 2026 base salary: $8.5 million.
The deal also includes three incentive packages, each with creative names. The Agent Wagz Wally’s Wage Incentive pays out up to $2 million per year based on playing time and team achievements. To get the full amount, Wagner needs to participate in 90 percent or more of the defensive snaps, the Rams must make the playoffs, and the final defensive rankings in net points allowed, net yards allowed, and net passing yards allowed per passing play must be better than the fifth worst in the league.
The Wage Wagz’s Colony Coin Incentive pays out $1 million per year if he’s a first-time All Pro. Alternatively, if he makes it to the Pro Bowl (original ballot) and the team improves its defensive ranking in total net yards allowed, or net yards allowed per passing play, Wagner gets $500,000.
Finally, the Agent Wagz Archibald Ranch Au Revoir Void gives the player the right to pull the plug on the final three years of the deal if in 2022 and 2023 he plays in 90 percent of more of the defensive plays and the team makes it to the postseason each year. Alternatively, he can void the final three years of the contract if he makes it to the Pro Bowl (in the original ballot) in 2022 and 2023.
The void likely won’t be necessary. As a practical matter, the Rams have signed Wagner to a year-to-year deal that can be worth as little as $10 million for one year; although the deal contains offset language as to certain specific guarantees in the deal, the $3.5 million roster bonus for 2023 does not include offset language.
Even after the addition of Wagner, the Rams may not be done making moves this offseason as they are in extension talks with both Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see those contracts similarly structured to be backloaded so the Rams can once again go all-in to win the Super Bowl in 2022.
Although they’ve lost some key members from last year’s team, additions like Wagner should have L.A. among the favorites to win it all again this season.