Finnegan tweets his release ... or did he?

By Howard Balzer

(KSDK Sports) -- Cornerback Cortland Finnegan was the centerpiece of the Rams' free-agent additions two years ago after Jeff Fisher was named head coach.

Now, two years later, Finnegan will likely be released next week because of a combination of salary and diminishing skills.

Finnegan tweeted his apparent goodbye Wednesday, writing, "St.Louis thank you for your letting me play for a classy franchise and coach fish nothing but love thank you all."

Quarterback Kellen Clemens tweeted,"was a pleasure amigo. You're a credit to the profession and a true pro. You will be missed."

There was some controversy with the way the news became public. NFL Network reported that Finnegan met with the team and was presented with options that included reducing his salary. Finnegan's answer came in his tweet.

But is it the answer we all have interpreted? Might Finnegan be playing all of us? Could his tweet actually mean he would accept a pay cut?

"We've expressed interest in him coming back to our football team. We appreciate what he's done for us. I know he was personally disappointed the way last year ended up for us. But as we told him, he can help win football games for us next year," Fisher told the Post-Dispatch.

Finnegan signed a five-year, $50 million contract with $27 million guaranteed in the first few days of the 2012 league year and brought a feistiness to the Rams defense that Fisher wanted. Finnegan also was a mentor to young cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.

He played in 16 games in 2012, starting 15, and had three interceptions with one returned for a touchdown. Finnegan also had 83 tackles. However, his 2013 season was affected by an eye injury in which the orbital bone was broken. He played just seven games, starting five, and had 23 tackles with one interception.

Finnegan was due a $6 million salary in 2014 and that money will be wiped off the books, assuming his release becomes official. A $3 million roster bonus due March 13 is guaranteed, which will count against the salary cap, as will $3 million in accelerated signing bonus proration.

The move still saves the Rams $4 million against the cap because on the roster he would have counted $10 million. It's possible the Rams will eventually see additional cap savings if Finnegan signs with another team because of an offset provision that can be no higher than $3 million.

But suppose Finnegan comes to his senses and realizes no team will pay a lot of money to a 30-year-old cornerback coming off an eye injury? If Finnegan were to play for, let's say, $2 million in salary, he would still make $5 million this year, and the cap charge for the Rams would still be $6 million for the same $4 million savings.

However, were that to happen, it would only make sense for Finnegan to agree to a lower salary before he is released. Afterward, any new salary would be added to the adjusted cap charge because the signing bonus acceleration can't be reversed.

Howard Balzer hosts "H and Friends" Monday-Friday from 9-11 on Fox Sports 1490 The Champ. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL Radio and one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


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