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.
According to ESPN Stats & 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 their offensive players. The Rams have 59 players under contract so some tweaks have been made at certain positions to subtract contracts in order to reflect only the top 51 most-expensive contracts.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 15.8 percent
Total cap charge: $19,930,000
NFL average: $11,667,289
Biggest cap hit: Sam Bradford, $17,610,000
Biggest bargain: Shaun Hill, $1.75 million
Contracts counted: Bradford, Hill, Austin Davis
Thoughts: It goes without saying that Bradford is overpaid relative to performance and durability, but that is no fault of his or the Rams. What's more interesting is what will happen from here. The Rams say they'd like to sign Bradford to a long-term deal, but he apparently prefers to wait and bet on himself before entering discussions. Surely, the Rams would like Bradford to take a big step forward in 2014, and then reward him with an extension that would pay him something similar to what his rookie deal did. If not, this is an area the Rams could certainly save money moving forward.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 2.5 percent
Total cap charge: $3,215,232
NFL average: $7,750,422
Biggest cap hit: Isaiah Pead, $1,101,300
Biggest bargain: Zac Stacy, $539,125
Thoughts: After many years of heavy investment in this position, the Rams have joined the league-wide movement that allows for running backs to be found just about anywhere. Pead is the highest-paid back and probably fourth on the depth chart, which means he could be battling for a roster spot come preseason. His cap number is a little high for a special teams only player. With Stacy and Cunningham under team control for at least the next three years, this is an area the Rams should continue to get production for little cost.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 7.2 percent
Total cap charge: $9,151,046
NFL average: $13,535,504
Biggest cap hit: Tavon Austin, $2,897,955
Biggest bargain: Stedman Bailey, $644,195
Thoughts: Much like running back, the Rams have an extremely young group of players at this position which translates to little money spent. Austin was a first-round pick, which makes him the highest-paid of the group. Pettis is due for free agency after the season. Even if the Rams showed interest in bringing him back, he won't break the bank. Britt could push Austin as the highest paid if he produces and reaches incentives. Again, there are no players here that figure to break the bank anytime soon.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 7.1 percent
Total cap charge: $8,914,617
NFL average: $6,117,287
Biggest cap hit: Jared Cook, $7 million
Biggest bargain: Cory Harkey, $570,000
Contracts counted: Cook, Harkey, Lance Kendricks
Thoughts: The hefty investment in Cook certainly upped the ante for this position, but the Rams hadn't invested much in this position in quite some time. Cook did lead the team in a few receiving categories and set franchise records for a tight end. Bradford's return should only help his production increase. Harkey and Kendricks are relative bargains given their versatility, but Kendricks is a free agent after the season. Like Pettis, he wouldn't cost much to retain barring a surprising breakout season.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 18.1 percent
Total cap charge: $22,791,875
NFL average: $21,430,114
Biggest cap hit: Jake Long, $9.25 million
Biggest bargain: Joe Barksdale, $645,000
Thoughts: The large increase on the salary cap this year likely allowed the Rams to retain the pricey Wells. Between Long, Wells and the recently re-signed Saffold, the Rams have a large chunk of their offensive money tied up into the line. After that trio, though, the Rams have plenty of younger, cheaper options that could represent value if they can produce as Barksdale did in 2013. Speaking of Barksdale, he's one of the team's best bargains regardless of position, but that will change if he starts and plays well again in 2014. He's scheduled for free agency after the season. In theory, the Rams could spend an early pick on another tackle and have a top player at the position who would cost less than Barksdale after he tastes the open market.