The Los Angeles Rams have the football world in arms over the salary cap.
Some fans believe they are cheating the system.
Others wonder how the Rams can have so many talented players while their team is struggling to get under the cap.
There is even a segment of fans who believe something nefarious is going on in Los Angeles.
However, the answer is simple and what Los Angeles is doing isn’t underhanded at all.
The Devil Is In The Details
Everyone is looking at the huge numbers they see in these clickbait stories.
They see numbers like $135 million in guaranteed money and think Los Angeles is cheating the system.
@RamsNFL I’m telling Rodger y’all out here cheating cap space. This is insane 🤣
— Zy 💤 (@ZyfromJcksn) June 8, 2022
However, they are wrong, and the devil is in the details of these huge contracts.
The $135 million of guaranteed money is going to quarterback Matthew Stafford.
But when you look at his contract details, you’ll see how the Rams are affording these players.
According to Spotrac, Stafford got a $60 million signing bonus, which is part of his guaranteed money.
The other $75 million of “guaranteed” money comes from his base salary from 2022 to 2024, along with an option bonus that activates in March 2023.
However, that $60 million signing bonus is evenly divided over five years, leaving Stafford with a pay of only $13.5 million in 2022.
But this isn’t the only player the Rams are doing this with, helping them stay under the cap for 2022.
Cooper Kupp Deal Isn’t As Big As People Are Led To Believe
Cooper Kupp is another player that got a “huge” contract as reported by the media.
So in all: Rams’ WR Cooper Kupp’s three-year, $80 million extension includes $75 million guaranteed and is worth $110 million over the five years that tie him to Los Angeles through the 2026 season.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 8, 2022
Again, everyone sees the $80 million over three-years and that $75 million is guaranteed.
When reported like that, it makes NFL fans ask how the Rams are doing this.
Going back to Spotrac, he is making only a little more than Stafford for 2022.
Some of his “guaranteed” money comes as a roster bonus, meaning if he retires, he doesn’t get that money.
However, the first set of roster bonuses kick in starting in March 2023.
While it might seem complicated, fans can find a simple explanation of what Los Angeles is doing.
Learning about the salary cap process will reveal all the “magic” Los Angeles uses to keep these players.
Cash Now, Cap Later
The most important part to understand is how Los Angeles is off-loading their signing bonuses.
They might pay the cash now to a Stafford or Aaron Donald, but it doesn’t count to the cap immediately.
Those signing bonuses are spread out over time against the cap space.
So the Rams are using the money they have now and having these players sign low base salary contracts.
By having Stafford at only $1.5 million in base salary, they can have a minor hit on the cap with the $60 million spread out.
However, this is a house of cards that could fall later on for Los Angeles.
If the players leave or are released, they would take a cap hit instantly for the cash they already spent on these players.
That’s the risk they are taking, using available cash to keep players and off-loading the contracts to stay under the cap.