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By Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange April 23, 2013 4:10 AM
Finally. It has been assumed for some time the St. Louis Rams would have to restructure the contract of at least one of their players with large salary-cap numbers to clear room for the possibility of signing a veteran or two after the draft as well as the draft class. To that end, on Friday, defensive end Chris Long signed a new contract that converts $6 million of his guaranteed $13.25 million salary this year and makes it a roster bonus. Normally, a roster bonus counts fully against the cap in the year it is paid, but because the money is guaranteed, it is prorated over the four years left on his contract. The restructuring lowers Long's cap charge by $4.5 million this year and adds $1.5 million to the last three years of the deal (2014-16). Prior to the restructuring, the Rams were $244,053 under the cap. Now, they are $4,744,000 under the cap, not including the contract for guard Chris Williams, who agreed to terms three weeks ago. Williams' contract was submitted to the league Monday, but details weren't immediately known. Because the Rams have 51 players under contract, the addition of Williams won't count his full amount against the cap. Four Rams players (Chase Reynolds, Nick Johnson, Cameron Graham and Raymond Radway) have $405,000 cap charges, and Williams will replace one of those in the top 51 because only the 51 highest cap numbers count in the offseason. Whatever turns out to be Williams' cap number, the net addition to the total cap will be $405,000 less. Still, the approximate $4 million of space the Rams will have after Williams' contract is known likely won't be enough to sign any veterans plus the drafted players. The Rams could have converted up to $12,535,000 of Long's salary to the bonus and slashed more from the cap this year while adding more to future years. Long was scheduled to count $13.2 million against the cap in 2014, $10 million in 2015 and $11.75 million in 2016, but will now count $14.7 million, $11.5 million and $13.25 million.