49ers

Jalen Ramsey's next contract will keep Rams spiraling downward in NFC

49ers

The Seattle Seahawks gave up a ton to acquire safety Jamal Adams, and they better win soon. Because before long, they'll likely find themselves in the same situation the Los Angeles Rams are in now, which is bad and about to get worse.

Like the Seahawks, the Rams sold the farm to acquire cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, and the full price isn't even close to being paid. Los Angeles gave up its 2020 first-round pick, 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick to get him -- and the full bill is about to become due.

Ramsey -- who is entering the final year of his current contract -- wants a record-breaking extension, and after what the Rams gave up to acquire him, they're far too pot committed not to back up the Brinks trucks.

The big problem for the Rams is not paying Ramsey, though. It's what paying him will do to the rest of the roster -- on top of the assets that already have been depleted.

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The Rams currently have just over $5 million in available cap space according to Over The Cap -- only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have less. Due to poor roster planning and certain high-priced players not living up to their contracts, Los Angeles is paying Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks a combined $33.5 million to play for other teams this coming season. Cooks comes off the books next year, but Gurley still will count for $8.4 million in dead money in 2021.

 

As such, the Rams don't have much wiggle room, and they'll be largely incapable of adding any significant salaries in the immediate future -- beyond Ramsey, that is. In fact, based on what NFL Network's Steve Wyche reported Tuesday, Rams general manager Les Snead knows they'll likely have to cut costs elsewhere just to pay the star cornerback.

"[Snead] said, 'Remember, we did trade two first-round picks for him,'" Wyche reported on "Inside Training Camp Live," "and he said that to 'sign players you want to keep, you may have to feel pain elsewhere.' Complicating a massive deal, which is what it would take to keep Ramsey, is the fact that the salary cap could do down next year."

While it remains to be seen how the NFL will address the inevitable loss of league revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams must factor in the possibility that the salary cap will be significantly reduced. If it is, the Rams will be impacted just as much as every other team in the league, but few if any will have their hands tied like Los Angeles will. 

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The Rams arguably have the worst roster in the NFC West as things currently stand, and that's with Ramsey included. Once they pay him what they'll have to, however, they'll likely have to further deplete that roster, and won't be able to fill those spots with talented, cheap replacements via the top draft picks they've already traded away.

It wasn't that long ago that the Rams sat atop the NFC and fell just short of winning the Super Bowl. They've fallen off precipitously since then, and though they're headed for the bottom, they haven't hit it yet.