The St. Louis Rams are coming off a lackluster season and preparing for free agency season on March 13. They'll be hoping for a fresh start from the top down, with a new general manager in place and some tough decisions ahead.
According to Howard Balzer of 101Sports.com, the Rams face a multitude of salary issues they must address if they hope to improve upon their 2011 team and still stay under the salary cap for 2012. If the Rams choose to tender all of their restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents, they'll be looking at about $7 million or so to work with after factoring in their rookie pool following the pick. Balzer notes that there are a couple of Rams players that the team may have to part with in order to have more maneuverability:
Center/guard Jason Brown: He has two years remaining on his contract with base salaries of $5 million and $6.2 million. This year, his cap figure is $7.2 million. If Brown were released prior to June 1, the Rams would save $5 million, but $4.4 million in signing bonus proration would accelerate against the cap for a net savings of $600,000.
Tackle Jason Smith: There have been numerous reports that the Rams are trying to negotiate a pay cut for Smith, who has started just 26 of a possible 48 games since being the second overall pick in the draft in 2009. He missed the final 10 games of last season with the second serious concussion of his career. Smith's base salary for 2011 is $10 million, $1 million of which is guaranteed. Including a signing bonus proration of $3.268 million. He counts $13.268 million against the cap.
With Brown, it appears as though the question will be how badly the Rams feel they need the extra $600,000, in addition to whether they feel they could acquire a suitable replacement, or find one in-house. Smith will certainly be a tougher decision.
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