Yesterday, we took a look at the top inside linebacker prospects in this year’s draft.
I mentioned that the Rams probably won’t take any of these guys since they are firmly entrenched with sixth-year man James Laurinaitis in the middle for 2014.
However, Laurinaitis’s contract is front-loaded to the extreme. He counted $12.4 million against the Rams’ cap last year, the first year of his five-year extension. This season, JL55 will count $10.4 million against the cap. However, in 2015, he will only count $4.025 million against the cap, and the Rams will save $3.225 million in cap savings with only $800,000 in dead money if they let him go after the 2014 season.
This scenario is pretty likely should Laurinaitis continue to underwhelm in relation to his contract. Laurinaitis’s -8.7 overall rating via Pro Football Focus ranked 21st out of 38 middle linebackers who participated in at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps. Not terrible, but also not worth anywhere close to a salary in excess of $10 million.
I still don’t think the Rams will actively seek a replacement for Laurinaitis this season, especially in the first two days of the draft. But don’t be surprised if they take a flyer on a guy late just in case.