By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and lost in the initial news of the Rams dealing receiver Brandin Cooks to the Texans is the implications for Los Angeles’s already-stressed salary cap. The move to trade Cooks leaves an estimated $21.8 million in dead money on the books for the Rams, a sum that is made even more daunting when paired with the over-$20 million in dead money incurred with the release of running back Todd Gurley. The Rams are going to be tested when it comes to filling out the roster in the draft and on the fringes of free agency.
All that said, without a bounce-back from quarterback Jared Goff—who accounts for an unfathomable $36 million against the cap—the Rams have no chance at competing for a playoff spot in 2020. It’s fairly shocking to see Goff’s cap number given his meager level of production during his career, and it’s outright laughable when looking at how poorly he fared for the bulk of 2019. The Rams committed to Goff for the long haul prior to last season, agreeing to a four-year extension worth $134 million. It’s fair to say the move was a massive, potentially franchise-dooming mistake.
Staying on the topic of team’s struggling with dead money, the Patriots will have to shoulder a cap hit of $13.5 million for Tom Brady this season, a sum that accounts for nearly seven percent of the salary cap. At present, the Patriots will enter the season with Jarrett Stidham under center, yet New England boasts the lowest amount of available cap space in the AFC. There are a lot of veteran pieces to like on New England’s roster, but without an upgrade at quarterback the Patriots have little chance of contending. It is far more likely that New England shops some of its more valuable players (Stephon Gilmore, Joe Thuney, Julian Edelman) at some point this year.
Interestingly, there has been chatter linking the Patriots to quarterback Jordan Love in this month’s upcoming draft. A product of Utah State, Love has questions about his accuracy and ability to limit mistakes, but there is no denying he has a top-shelf arm. There’s plenty of development needs from Love, but landing in a situation where he can fill the role of spectator for a season would be ideal. The Chargers and Packers make a lot of sense for Love, while the aforementioned Patriots would be a curious fit in the short-term.
Also coming out this weekend were rumors linking the New York Giants and offensive tackle Mekhi Becton of Louisville. Becton wowed folks at the scouting combine, surging up draft boards as a result. There is no questioning his rare combination of size and athleticism for an offensive tackle. However, he’s had little experience working in pass protection, and he represents more of a project than other NFL-ready players at his position. Becton going to the Giants in the top five would be a massive win for the tackle-needy teams elsewhere in the first round.
For teams in need of help at receiver, this year’s draft class is the perfect elixir. There are three names at the top of the draft that could all end up as top ten selections (Jeudy, Ruggs, Lamb), but there are also six or seven other names that could be called out during the first round. Laviska Shenault Jr. boasts arguably the draft’s best collection of physical tools, though he is more of a long-term project given his need for refinement as a route runner. Jalen Reagor may be the best true deep threat of the bunch, Tee Higgins would be a top ten pick most years, Michael Pittman Jr. likely slots in as a go-to possession receiver as a rookie, and Denzel Mims could end up the best of the bunch if his skill-set evolves to match his physical tools. All of the talk about this being arguably the best crop of receivers since at least 2014 are true.