Wells contract gives Rams cap relief

By Howard Balzer

(KSDK SPORTS) - Last Thursday, Rams starting center Scott Wells had an excused absence from the team's second OTA. He was working Friday, the same day he signed a restructured contract that covers the final two seasons of the four-year deal he originally signed as an unrestricted free agent in March, 2012. That original contract totaled just over $24 million and included a signing bonus of $4 million.

For 2014 and 2015, Wells was scheduled to be paid $5.5 million each year and have a salary-cap charge of $6.5 million, which included $1 million as the proration from the signing bonus.

The restructured deal slashes his base salary each year, while also providing ways for him to earn money from incentives.

This year, Wells' base salary will be $1 million and he received a $1.65 million roster bonus Monday. There is also a $53,125 bonus for every game he is active during the regular season for a total of $850,000 if he is active for all 16 games. Of that total, $637,500 currently counts against the cap because he was active for 12 games last season. Thus, 12 games from the bonus are considered likely to be earned and the other four games not likely to be earned because those and other bonuses are based on what the player did the year before.

The restructuring lowers his cap charge this year from $6.5 million to $4,287,500, a savings of just over $2.2 million. The $1 million from his original signing bonus continues to count against the cap.

In 2015, the Rams will have a decision to make on the third day of the league year, and much could depend on the progress second-year center Barrett Jones makes this year, how well Wells plays this season and if he can stay healthy. Wells will turn 34 on Jan. 7, and he will be due a $1 million roster bonus on the third day of the new league year in March.

If the Rams move on from Wells, he will count just $1 million against the 2015 cap. If they pay him the roster bonus, his new base salary of $2 million will then count against the cap, along with a potential $1 million roster bonus ($62,500 per games active) plus the signing bonus proration for a total cap charge of $5 million.

Also included in the new contract are $2 million of unlikely to be earned incentives each year. While the specifics aren't known, those incentives are tied to playing time, playing time plus playoffs and making the Pro Bowl.

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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