The Rams have given big contracts to Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley in recent days, and an even bigger contract for Aaron Donald is likely coming soon. They’ve also acquired expensive players like Ndamukong Suh and Aqib Talib, and four of their holdovers from last year — Andrew Whitworth, Lamarcus Joyner, Michael Brockers and Mark Barron — have cap hits in excess of $10 million.
So how can the Rams afford all this talent?
The answer is that their franchise quarterback, Jared Goff, is on his rookie contract, which makes him a bargain this year, with a salary of less than $3 million and a cap hit of less than $8 million. Goff is a bargain again next year, with a cap hit of less than $9 million, which will be nice when another recent acquisition, Marcus Peters, sees his cap hit balloon up from less than $2 million this year to more than $9 million next year.
In 2020, the Goff bargain comes to an end: He’ll likely be playing either on his fifth-year option, which would be well over $20 million, or be playing on a lucrative new contract, which would also likely pay him well over $20 million a year. At that time, with Goff taking up more cap space, the Rams are going to need to make some tough decisions about where to save cap space elsewhere on the roster.
The best bargains in the NFL are quarterbacks on their rookie contracts. Teams like the Rams with Goff, the Eagles with Carson Wentz, the Texans with Deshaun Watson and the Cowboys with Dak Prescott are set at quarterback and are able to spend far more money on other positions than the teams with quarterbacks on veteran quarterbacks, many of whom make well over $20 million a year.
The Rams recognize what a bargain Goff is, and they want to win now, before that changes.