Remember when we learned that the NFC West was the "richest" division in football in terms of cap money to spend in free agency? The news spawned a whole new round of free agent dreaming. "Why not Barry Cofield AND Reggie Bush AND Sidney Rice?" asks the dreamer.
As it turns out, the cap-crunchers have spoken again, and the Rams are now looking like the pauper in this division of riches. After originally reporting a $35.6 million dollar surplus in Billy Devaney's GM checkbook, ESPN's John Clayton now is the bearer of some very bad news.
The St. Louis Rams have $39 million of one-time cap charges on Sam Bradford, Jason Smith and Chris Long, but still have about $12 million of cap room left.
$12 million? That doesn't leave much room for a bold statement, especially if the team's slated rookie expenses -- a hair over $5 million, says Mike Sando -- have to be cut from this same slim pie.
Meanwhile, Seattle is said to be in the running for Sidney Rice, and has reportedly already brought in a familiar face at quarterback -- fellow Viking (and former understudy of the now-departed Matt Hasselbeck) Tarvaris Jackson. That's a topic for a whole separate post, but worth noting as a sign that Pete Carroll's team plans to be as aggressive in this year's free agency pool as they were in last year's draft.
Arizona also has much coin to spend, though their ongoing flirtation with both the Eagles' Kevin Kolb and the Broncos' Kyle Orton will leave them much lighter in the pocket in terms of draft picks.
All of which means the Rams will have to be very choosy with their free agent spending. How this might affect the key areas of need: