EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams are far from flush with salary-cap space but they certainly have enough to handle the rest of their offseason business and potentially even add another low-cost veteran or two after the draft if they choose.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Rams currently have $5,557,116 in salary-cap space. That does not include an additional $3 million in space they'll eventually receive credit for from cornerback Cortland Finnegan's signing with Miami. Stats & Info has the Rams' current cap charges for 2014 coming in at a total of $126,266,413.
That number accounts for only the top 51 players on the roster right now plus dead money the team will carry into the season. The team will have to sign a draft class and eventually the top 53 players on the roster will count toward the cap.
Below is a look at how the Rams are distributing their cap dollars for next season among defensive players. The Rams have 59 players under contract so tweaks have been made at certain positions to subtract contracts to reflect only the 51 costliest contracts.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 20.2 percent
Total cap charge: $24,959,065
NFL average: $12,840,629
Biggest cap hit: Chris Long, $14.9 million
Biggest bargain: Robert Quinn, $$3,002,381
Thoughts: Quinn is, perhaps, one of the biggest bargains in the league after his breakthrough 2013 season. But soon enough the Rams will have to pay up to keep him. The Rams are almost certain to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract which will more than double his price but ensure he's still a bargain. The team could theoretically tag him after that but either way, they have control of his rights for at least two more seasons. By then, the Rams will have to make decisions on the rest of their depth chart at end. Long's price drops a bit the next two seasons but is still under contract at a hefty price through 2016. Eugene Sims and William Hayes, two excellent depth pieces, are due to hit the market again after 2015 but remain bargains in the interim. Also worth noting that Stats & Information includes newly added Alex Carrington in the mix at defensive end though he'll probably spend most of his time in St. Louis at tackle.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 8.29 percent
Total cap charge:x$10,243,909
NFL average: $8,979,256
Biggest cap hit: Kendall Langford, $6 million
Biggest bargain: Michael Brockers, $2,596,909
Thoughts: Langford remains under contract through 2015 though his cap number jumps to $7 million next year. But the Rams don't have much invested in this position aside from the two starters. Brockers has been plenty productive relative to his cost and the team has him under control through 2015 with an additional fifth-year option for 2016. Conrath and Cudjo are signed through this season and the Rams appear interested in continuing to bolster the depth behind the starters. All of those deals are timed in a way that should make extending Brockers an easy priority if he continues on his current trajectory of improvement but the Rams could use more long-term solutions at the position to join him.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 11.4 percent
Total cap charge: $14,437,711
NFL average: $15,493,188
Biggest cap hit: James Laurinaitis, $10.4 million
Biggest bargain: Alec Ogletree, $1,597,733
Thoughts: The Rams are spending just below the league average at the position but aside from Laurinaitis, they aren't spending much money here. The good news for the Rams is that Laurinaitis' cap number is going to decrease dramatically in 2015 to $4.025 million. His cap numbers are far more palatable in 2016 and 2017 though there's a $2 million roster bonus in that, the final year of the deal. Ogletree will eventually need an extension if he continues to improve and produce but the rest of the group is comprised of Dunbar's team-friendly two-year deal and former undrafted rookie free agents who cost no more than the league minimum.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 2.2 percent
Total cap charge: $2,727,580
NFL average: $12,150,127
Biggest cap hit: Janoris Jenkins, $1,360,996
Biggest bargain: Trumaine Johnson, $823,794
Contracts counted: Jenkins, Johnson, Brandon McGee
Thoughts: After releasing Cortland Finnegan, the Rams' remaining corners now account for the lowest total cap charge of any team's group in the league. Jenkins and Johnson currently project as the starters for 2014 and if they progress how the Rams hope, they'll have to re-sign them after the 2015 season. But if that duo can prove effective, it could be one of the league's biggest bargains to have two starters accounting for so little of the team's cap over the next two seasons.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 1.4 percent
Total cap charge: $1,825,483
NFL average: $8,315,431
Biggest cap hit: T.J. McDonald, $680,815
Biggest bargain: Rodney McLeod, $571,334
Contracts counted: McDonald, McLeod, Matt Daniels
Thoughts: Much like corner, the Rams have no proven veteran presence at safety, which also means they don't have anyone taking up a sizable chunk of cap space. McDonald and McLeod are the current projected starters and neither costs much. With McDonald under control for the next three seasons, any addition the team makes at this spot won't add much to the spending at safety, even if it's a first-round pick.