There seems to be one common trend for the Los Angeles Rams this offseason: some notable big names on the team are leaving.
The Los Angeles Rams have made a lot of moves since the start of the new league year on Monday March 16th. However, they have also lost a ton of big-name players during this period. Rams fans may wonder: Why is this occurring?
They are losing these players because of two factors: Their salary cap and the pending Jalen Ramsey contract.
First, let’s take a look at the players they are losing. On the defensive side, they are losing star linebacker Cory Littleton, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, outside linebacker Dante Fowler and cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.
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Each player with the exception of Roby-Coleman was due a raise in pay as they were unrestricted free agents and coming off strong seasons. In the 2019 season, Littleton had a team-leading 134 tackles and 3.5 sacks, Brockers had 63 tackles, and 3.5 sacks and Fowler had 58 tackles, and 11.5 sacks.
Additionally, Robey-Coleman had 36 total tackles and had a $4.5 million team option that was declined.
Secondly, on the offensive side, the Rams just released Todd Gurley today prior to signing him to a whopping 4 year $57.5 million before the 2018 season. Gurley had two strong years in 2017 and 2018 for the Rams where he peaked. However, questions about his knee and his longevity along with his down 2019 year caused the Rams to look the other way and release him.
The Rams declined to keep these players majorly because of the raises they were due going into the offseason besides Gurley who was given a huge contract. Each player wanted to earn more and because of the state of the Rams salary cap, they were unable to offer each of them a raise that other teams could.
Prior to the start of the free agency beginning, the Rams had $113 million dedicated to the offensive personnel, $76 million dedicated to the defense and just under $6 million for special teams.
With the Rams spending so much on offense, they would have been unable to offer these players raises unless they gave them long-term contracts that were back-loaded which are uncommon.
With the Rams seemingly strapped for space, each free agent besides Roby-Coleman and the suddenly released Gurley have already signed. Brockers went to the Ravens for 3 years and $30 million, Littleton went to the Raiders for 3 years and $36 million and Fowler went to the Falcons for 3 years and $48 million per ESPN.
Also, the pending Jalen Ramsey contract also caused the Rams to make the move to not re-sign these players as well. Ramsey was traded to the Rams last year before the trade deadline in an effort to jump-start a push for the playoffs as they were stuck in mediocrity in the early part of the season. Sadly, this did not work out for them as they ended up not making the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Rams gave up their 2020 1st round pick, 2021 1st round pick and a 2021 4th round draft pick for him. Luckily, for the Rams the Jaguars did exercise his 5th year of $13.7 million for the 2020 season before they acquiring him.
In giving up a lot for him, the Rams put themselves in a tough spot as Ramsey is a proven shutdown corner and will want the highest annual average with quite possibly the highest guarantee. The highest-paid quarterback is newly acquired Eagles corner Darius Slay who will be paid $16.67 million with $30 million guaranteed for the 2021, 2022, and 2023 season. Ramsey will surely want to exceed that number.
The Rams have had a strong roster over the last couple of seasons, but are surely paying the price for it in the present time. They are cap-strapped and will need to build their team via the draft in order to continue to stay competitive and have cap flexibility for the foreseeable future.
They will also need to address Jalen Ramsey’s impending deal as well as the Los Angeles Rams gave up too many draft picks just to let him walk away after this season.