Draft a WR? Why not just pay Victor Cruz?

Bill from Kalispell, Mont., asked during the NFC West chat why the St. Louis Rams wouldn't sign New York Giants restricted free agent Victor Cruz to an offer sheet.

"If you think the Rams will use one of their first-round picks on a WR, why not sign Victor Cruz, a young known quantity, to a deal and give up the pick -- or force the Giants in to a bad cap place by keeping him," Bill wrote. "Either way you are hurting one of your competitors for a wild-card slot."

Salary-cap Hits: Vincent Jackson vs. Draft

Sando: Salary is the No. 1 reason. The Rams hold the 16th and 23rd picks in the draft. The cap charges associated with those picks will fall far short of the cap charges associated with a long-term deal for a veteran receiver.

Now, if the Rams saw Cruz as a Percy Harvin-type talent, the price could be worth considering. But if they see Cruz as merely a good receiver, they should proceed with caution when considering the costs.

The chart illustrates the point by comparing annual salary cap charges for Vincent Jackson, the receiver Tampa Bay signed in free agency last offseason, to the cap charges for Kendall Wright, the wide receiver Tennessee drafted with the 20th pick of the draft.

I'm not comparing Jackson to Wright as players. I'm not comparing either one of them to Cruz, either. The point is one of cost, and I make it under the assumption the Rams would be getting a very good receiver in the first round.

As noted in the chat, Wright's contract as the 20th pick is scheduled to count $8.2 million against the cap over four years. The contract Jackson signed counted nearly twice as much in 2012 alone. It is scheduled to consume $55 million in cap space over five seasons.

So, if the Rams could find their version of Cruz in the first round, they would come out far ahead. The question, of course, is whether the Rams could find that kind of value, and whether the cost associated with Cruz would be worthwhile.