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By acquiring Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions, the Los Angeles Rams took on the remainder of his contract. With two years and $43 million left on his deal, Stafford is under contract with the Rams through the 2022 season.
But because there’s no guaranteed money left, the Rams can get out of it at any time without taking on a single penny in dead money – not that they plan to cut or trade him. As of now, his cap hit will be $20 million in 2021 and $23 million the following year before he’s set to hit free agency in 2023.
The Rams could extend Stafford to potentially lower his cap hit this year and give him some guaranteed money, but nothing is imminent on that front. And Stafford doesn’t mind. He’s focused on what he does on the field and will let the contract situation take care of itself.
“I’m not too worried about it. My job No. 1 first and foremost, is to play at a high level to help this team win football games. That’s what I’m focused on at the moment,” he told reporters Friday. “I’ve got a lot on my plate, to be honest, with trying to learn this offense and learning the team. So that’s the biggest and most important thing on my mind. All that other stuff will take care of itself. At the moment, I’ve got two more years left on my deal, so I’m just going to play and let all that other stuff take care of itself.”
Restructuring his contract is also a possibility for the Rams. In doing so, they could convert some of his base salary into a signing bonus, lowering his cap hit this year while simultaneously raising it in 2022.
Les Snead was asked about that being a move the Rams might look at and they know it’s always in their back pocket, but they don’t plan to execute it right now.
“We did everything at this point to onboard him without having to do that,” he said. “I know that there’s a mechanism and an opportunity to do that, but right now when we were doing our pre-planning, it was to maneuver our situation so we could onboard Matt without having to adjust.”
Snead wouldn’t say exactly how far under the salary cap the Rams are at the moment, but they are under the $182.5 million limit. They likely have about $7 million in cap space based on calculations using Over The Cap’s tool, which isn’t a ton of money to spend on free agents.
If they restructure Stafford’s deal, however, it could free up about $12.6 million more, thus giving them a chance to go after a bigger fish if there’s someone they like.