Rams' lavish spending vs. 49ers is a myth, noting key differences

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Rams' lavish spending vs. 49ers is a myth, noting key differences originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Veteran safety Jimmie Ward spoke the words a lot of 49ers fans were thinking when discussing the organization’s decision to trade DeForest Buckner in 2020.

“Couldn’t keep everyone,” Ward said in October. “Well, maybe. I don’t know. Probably could have made it work somehow. The Rams keep doing it. I don’t know how. You know where they’re getting all this money from?”

Although it certainly seems as if the Los Angeles Rams are out-spending their closest competitors for high-level talent, that is really not the case.
However, there is no denying they have deployed a vastly different roster-building strategy than the 49ers.

The Rams’ approach paid off last season with a Super Bowl championship.

The biggest difference is that many of the Rams’ high-priced players are veterans acquired in trades or free agency.

The top four Los Angeles players who have the most fully guaranteed bonus money for the future are quarterback Matthew Stafford ($63 million), cornerback Jalen Ramsey ($47.8 million), receiver Allen Robinson ($30.75 million) and edge rusher Leonard Floyd ($27 million). Each player came to the Rams from outside the organization.

The 49ers’ top four future financial commitments are to linebacker Fred Warner ($40.4 million), tackle Trent Williams ($32.5 million), defensive lineman Arik Armstead ($29.5 million) and tight end George Kittle ($28.9 million). Williams is the only one of those players the 49ers did not draft.

The Rams under general manager Les Snead do not have much use for first-round draft picks.

The Rams traded up to No. 1 overall in 2016 to select quarterback Jared Goff — trading away their first-round selection in 2017 to do so. Since then, they have dealt away their first-round selection every year. Those trades brought receiver Brandin Cooks, Ramsey and Stafford to the team.

The Rams have future financial commitments of more than $6 million apiece to eight players — Stafford, Ramsey, Robinson, Floyd, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, receiver Cooper Kupp, tackle Joseph Noteboom and linebacker Bobby Wagner — totaling $241.25 million.

Meanwhile, the 49ers have commitments of more than $6 million to 13 different players at a total cost of $247.6 million. The 49ers chose nine of those players in the draft.

Players on their rookie contracts are generally locked into manageable costs for their first four seasons. But if those players perform — as has been the case with many 49ers draft picks — their costs skyrocket on their next deals.

All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel is currently nowhere near the top of the 49ers’ payroll. He figures to move to the top of the list with his next contract.

And whatever financial commitment the 49ers are expected to make, Samuel will almost assuredly be topped by edge rusher Nick Bosa’s next deal.

Neither organization is capable of keeping everyone from one season to the next.

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The 49ers this offseason did not retain guard Laken Tomlinson and defensive tackle D.J. Jones. Their big free-agent strike was the addition of cornerback Charvarius Ward.

The Rams, meanwhile, lost edge rusher Von Miller, cornerback Darious Williams, guard Austin Corbett and defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day. They also traded receiver Robert Woods, and tackle Andrew Whitworth retired.

The shedding of those financial loads enabled Los Angeles to spent significant sums to acquire Robinson and Wagner as free agents.

The Rams and 49ers took different paths to get there, but one thing they have in common is they enter the 2022 season with rosters loaded with high-priced star players.

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