Rams face tough decisions with tight cap

By David Demarco, Editor

After being a major player in free agency for back-to-back offseasons, the Rams find themselves as one of the most cash-strapped teams in the NFL. With the off-season looming and plenty of holes to fill, the Rams have crucial roster decisions to make. With just under $4 million in projected cap space, according to Spotrac.com, it’s likely some well-known Rams will be hitting the chopping block.

Scott Wells is likely the first one out the door. As one of the first moves by the Snead-Fisher regime, Wells was signed to be a veteran leader on a youthful team as well as provide much-needed stability on the offensive line. Over the past two seasons Well has missed 13 games and has been a major reason for the massive amount of shuffling on the offensive line. Parting ways with Wells will save the Rams $4.5 million in cap space.

Another interior lineman on the way out is guard Harvey Dahl. The veteran mauler has been a very solid player for the Rams, being a model of consistency for his first two seasons in St. Louis. After seeing less playing time due to injury and the emergency of Joe Barksdale, which moved Roger Saffold to Dahl’s guard position, he might end up being an odd man out unless he takes a pay cut. He’s due $4 million in base salary and the Rams face no cap penalty if they choose to cut ties.

The second coming of Nnamdi Asomugha arrived in St. Louis in the form of former Titan Cortland Finnegan. Two years ago, the Rams needed help at corner and Finnegan was a natural fit. His familiarity with coach Fisher,  Pro Bowl-caliber play and his veteran status were more than enough to make him the perfect addition to the Rams’ secondary. Fast forward to today, Finnegan is the biggest free agent bust in Rams history.

After signing a massive five-year $50 million dollar contract, Finnegan has been a liability in coverage and has started losing playing time to second-year player Trumaine Johnson. According to Pro Football Focus, Finnegan graded out as the 109th overall cornerback out of 110 qualifiers in 2013. Before anyone blames injury for Finnegan’s woes, it’s worth noting he graded out as the 86th overall corner just the year before. Unless Finnegan takes a pay cut and gets demoted to the slot, the Rams need to consider parting ways with their once free agent prize. The Rams can free up $4 million in wiggle room by releasing him.

Apart from releasing some well-known players, the Rams also have the option of throwing in the towel on several young players, assuming they feel they have seen enough to make that call. Young and underwhelming players such as Jermelle Cudjo, Isaiah Pead and Austin Pettis might be on the next flight out if management feels they’d rather roll the dice on slightly cheaper replacements.

The Rams are air-tight in cap space heading into 2014, cutting players that they deem overpaid is essential to be able to make moves in free agency and sign draft picks. Restructuring big contracts will only do so much, so don’t be surprised when projected starters are replaced between now and training camp.

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