New Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp deals actually create 2022 cap space for the Rams

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The Rams gave significant new deals this week to defensive tackle Aaron Donald and receiver Cooper Kupp. Along the way, the Rams actually created cap space.

As noted by Field Yates of, 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.

15 responses to “New Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp deals actually create 2022 cap space for the Rams

  1. That is just comical. The NFL should just incorporate the NBA
    salary cap because both are a joke in every sense of the word.

  2. The NFL should just abolish the salary cap altogether because it is not accomplishing anything the NFL originally intended. There are so many loopholes and exceptions it has become a total joke. It’s hard to believe a person like Goodell who has a legal background and all the legal advisors would approve such a poorly constructed document and no one to enforce it.

  3. SUre, it gives them cap space this year, but they destroyed their cap position and drafts for years to come. If they can win another Super Bowl, this year, they may think that it was worth it.

  4. They didn’t approve it by accident or ignorance. This all planned. This is all carefully orchestrated. Some teams are more equal than others. Just a fact.

  5. A basic principal of the salary cap should be that if a player gets a raise their cap number should go up, not down! Using bonuses and future years to arbitrarily lower the cap should not be tolerated.

  6. I am in favor of a salary cap. The last thing I want to see is a team emulating George Steinbrenner’s Yankees. If teams and players are willing to structure deals like that, so what? What’s the harm to the game? Is the current salary cap process perfect – no, but it is better than nothing. Without it the Bengals might be in last place every year as long as current ownership is in place, and the Cowboys might be perennial champs as Jerry could/would spend and spend.

  7. Cap catches up to everybody. At some point hard decisions will have to be made and lauded players will leave. Going all in on a repeat this year. Good luck

  8. Just kicking can down road. The issue becomes if either player leaves/retires before end of deal (the voidable years junk) then all remaining prorated bonuses are dead money. Like the Falcons having $50 mil plus of dead money last year, I believe. Rams playing for 2022 and maybe 2023, after that, too far to look out.

  9. It’s sort of like the U.S. debt. All you can do is hope that it hits the fan after you’re gone.

  10. But Andrew Brandt now has Pat McAfee claiming this is a “loophole” as though the money will never count against the cap and teams are “getting away” with something. LOL. The cap exists. It’s real. This is simple economics many don’t seem to understand. The RS and teams that pay for big bonuses are betting that these players contracts will be 2nd tier money down the line. The cap, except for 2020, is increasing rapidly. If it does, not a huge problem. Once it slows, you better have a plan. The cap exists. It’s real. Teams can’t be above it. All those complaints about the Rams? How do Giants fans feel this off-season? How do Chiefs fans feel?

  11. The Rams have been kicking the can down the road for years yet they keep on winning. Hmmm.

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