Todd Gurley

49ers' top players cost less combined than Rams' dead-money payments

49ers' top players cost less combined than Rams' dead-money payments

The Los Angeles Rams are paying $42 million in dead money to have running back Todd Gurley and receiver Brandin Cooks play for other teams moving forward.

Just let that sit there for a second.

Now, consider what good a team could do with $42 million. Like, for instance, the 49ers.

Reddit user u/N7_anonymous_guy recently delved into this topic, and boy did it paint an ugly picture for Los Angeles. For less than the $42 million the Rams are paying in dead money, the 49ers can afford the base salaries of: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive linemen Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa, linebackers Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw; safety Jimmie Ward, tight end George Kittle and receiver Deebo Samuel.

Oh, and "better logo+uniforms."

Yikes.

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Clearly, the Rams are paying the price for some regrettable decisions, whereas San Francisco has comparatively done a better job managing the cap. To be fair, though, some of the aforementioned 49ers players are due for imminent raises, and the difference isn't as stark when incorporating cap holds.

For instance, Garoppolo has a cap hold of $26.6 million and Sherman's is just under $14 million. So, really, for the same amount the Rams are paying in dead money for Gurley and Cooks, the 49ers can afford the cap holds of Jimmy G, Sherman and Kittle ($2.2 million).

Even so, that's pretty good.

Of course, Kittle's cap hold will balloon soon enough, but part of the reason the Niners will be able to afford his record-breaking extension is due to the forward-thinking with which they've approached the salary cap. They built through the draft, hit on their high-salaried players and haven't depleted their assets.

[RELATED: 49ers could draft, develop Kinlaw into dominant D-lineman]

Meanwhile, the Rams are in salary cap hell, have a barren draft pick arsenal and several of their marquee players have been cut or traded as a result.

The Rams are well aware that it's incredibly tough to win in the NFL. But they're about to learn that it's that much tougher when you're paying players to play somewhere else.

NFL free agency: How 49ers, NFC West rivals look after a week of moves

NFL free agency: How 49ers, NFC West rivals look after a week of moves

There’s no doubt that the Arizona Cardinals made the splashiest trade in the last week, landing wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans. But how did each NFC West team really do in overhauling their rosters for the 2020 NFL season?

Here’s a look at what's happened after a little more than a week of free-agent movement and other deals.

49ers 

San Francisco's biggest losses obviously are Pro Bowl defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, who was traded to the Colts, and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who signed with the Saints. Both made huge contributions on the field, and what they brought to the locker room might have been even more impactful.

While Buckner’s absence will be a substantial adjustment for the defensive line, the remainder of the defense remains intact heading into 2020. The 49ers re-signed safety Jimmie Ward and defensive lineman Arik Armstead to multi-year contracts while also giving a one-year extension to Ronald Blair, who is recovering from ACL surgery.

Outside of Sanders' departure, the offense remains predominantly the same as well. The 49ers recently added veteran Travis Benjamin to the receivers room. Benjamin spent time with coach Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland and thus likely will fit in seamlessly.

As long as the 49ers avoid the proverbial Super Bowl hangover, they should be ready to roll in 2020.

Cardinals

Arizona clearly made out with the better half of the deal from the Texans, netting Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round draft pick while sending running back David Johnson to Houston along with a 2020 second-round choice and a 2021 fourth-round selection.

No one really is sure what Texans coach Bill O’Brien was thinking in that trade, but what everyone does know is the Cardinals now might be the best team in the NFC West on paper.

The Cardinals also placed the transition tag on running back Kenyan Drake, who hit the ground full speed in his first game with the team in Week 9. Drake gashed the stout 49ers defense on 15 carries for 110 yards and four receptions for 52 yards.

Arizona also shored up its defense, adding former Giants and Lions outside linebacker Devon Kennard and Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. The most underrated addition might be Bills defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who netted a career-best 9.5 sacks last season.

The Cardinals likely will be the toughest matchup in the division this coming season. 

Rams 

While the Cardinals had the most notable gain, the Rams might have had the most prominent loss, as they released former All-Pro running back Todd Gurley. They attempted to shop the 25-year-old back but didn’t get any takers.

Gurley, the 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year and 2017 Offensive Player of the Year, did not live up to expectations in 2019, but the Falcons were willing to take the risk, and did so swiftly.

The Rams still have Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks in their offense, but their line's ability to open up the running game and to keep Goff clean might be their biggest concern. LA's average yards per carry dropped more than a yard, from 4.9 in 2018 to 3.7 in 2019.

On the other side of the ball, the Rams will have to move forward without linebacker Dante Fowler, who finished the season with 11.5 sacks, just one shy of the 12.5 recorded by All-Pro Aaron Donald, and went to the Falcons in free agency. LA signed former Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd to a one-year deal, but Fowler’s shoes will be very difficult to fill.

The Rams still have valuable talent on their roster, but they will need to find production from players they draft next month.

Seahawks 

Russell Wilson, Seattle’s 31-year-old quarterback, is very capable of avoiding defenders when the pocket collapses, but he won't be able to do it forever. The Seahawks tried to give him some support by signing offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi from the Jaguars and Brandon Shell from the Jets.

Seattle will try to find the winning offensive line combination with two new guards as well -- B.J. Finney, who comes over from the Steelers, and Chance Warmack, who has not played since 2018 as a member of the Eagles.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' free-agent signings]

On defense, the Seahawks are reuniting with veteran outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, who spent his first four seasons with the team. They will look for him and defensive tackle Jarran Reed to bolster a pass rush that could lose Jadeveon Clowney in 2020.

The Seahawks added a few key pieces, but they still might not measure up to what they have lost.

Rams release Todd Gurley and Clay Matthews as 49ers' division weakens

Rams release Todd Gurley and Clay Matthews as 49ers' division weakens

Another big NFC West name is on the move. The Los Angeles Rams announced Thursday that they have released running back Todd Gurley.

While the name might come as a shock, the timing doesn't. Gurley was due an additional $10.5 million if he was still on the Rams' roster past 1 p.m. (Pacific). He was officially released less than 20 minutes before the deadline.

Gurley, 25, has been one of the more prolific running backs in the league ever since being selected by the Rams with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, having scored double-digit touchdowns in all but one of his five seasons. He has dealt with knee injuries for the last couple years, however, and he's coming off the worst season of his career in terms of total yardage.

While the Rams avoid that $10.5 million roster payment to Gurley, they incur a large amount of dead money by releasing him.

[RELATED: Buckner admits big trade from 49ers to Colts was 'tough']

The Rams also announced Thursday that they have released linebacker Clay Matthews.

That's two big holes the Rams will need to fill, and they'll likely have to find some low-cost options to do it with.