As noted by Field Yates of ESPN.com, the new contracts freed up $3.625 million in cap space for the Rams.
That’s what happens when a major piece of compensation becomes a signing bonus that, for both players, gets divided into five chunks. With only 20 percent of Donald’s $25 million to sign and 20 percent of Kupp’s $20 million to sign counting against the 2022 cap, that means $9 million in current charges — and $36 million later.
The Rams kicked the can, like many teams do. With the salary cap on the front end of a major growth spurt, any dollars deferred from 2022 into future years will have a reduced impact, since they’ll reflect a smaller percentage of the overall cap.
Still, the team’s approach to paying big money to multiple players has a practical impact. Of the 90 players currently on the roster, only 30 have 2022 cap numbers of $1 million or more. Unlike the Patriots of past years, who squeezed stars to take less and in turn had plenty of money for high-level backups with starting experience, the Rams risk reliance on young, cheap, and inexperienced players if starters are injured.
For example, if quarterback Matthew Stafford is injured, there’s no veteran backup with significant experience to step in and take over. Instead, it’s John Wolford, who has a cap number of $895,000 this year.
That puts more pressure on the front office to find capable, low-cost talent — and more pressure on the coaching staff to get those players ready to go — if/when starters are injured. It also puts more pressure of a training staff led by Reggie Scott to ensure that the team’s best players can play as many games as possible.
The risk is calculated. The risk is real. A rash of injuries will relegate the Rams to relying on reserves who aren’t as good as those with teams who have less of a gap in cap dollars between the starters and the understudies.