According to a report from ESPN’s Field Yates, St. Louis Rams center Scott Wells has restructured his contract, moving to a more team-friendly deal for 2014. This move would seem to be all the confirmation we need that Wells is firmly in the Rams’ plans for this season, following offseason speculation that he could become a cap casualty.
Instead of making $5.5 million this year, the 33-year-old Wells will make a $1 million-dollar base salary in 2014. However, he got an immediate roster bonus of $1.65 million, and he can earn as much as $850,000 through per-game roster bonuses this year. Those bonuses give the Rams some financial flexibility if Wells ends up spending time on injured reserve, as he has done the previous two seasons.
Wells also renegotiated the fourth and final year of his deal, reducing his base salary from $5.5 million to $2 million, with a $1.75 million-dollar roster bonus. That bonus is likely something that could incentivize the Rams to release Wells following 2014, especially if 2013 draft pick Barrett Jones continues to develop as expected.
While it seems odd for Wells to put almost $7 million back on the table, it’s the right move to make considering that the team has stayed loyal to him through the past few years. While Wells has been decently effective when healthy, he’s missed 13 games over the past two years due to injury. Second-stringer Tim Barnes performed well in Wells’s absence last year and actually received a better grade for the season from Pro Football Focus than Wells did. The Rams also have high hopes for Jones, last year’s highly-regarded fourth-rounder who is seen as the center of the future, so it was a major sign of faith for the Rams to keep Wells around when they could have reaped the financial benefits and replaced him with a younger alternative.
Despite a lack of elite physicality, Wells has been a very stabilizing presence when he’s been around, and it’s good to have him with the team, especially with rookie left guard Greg Robinson needing veteran advice and leadership as he learns the ropes. The Rams are well-equipped with Barnes and Jones should Wells go down again, but whenever they can have a veteran with Super Bowl experience like Wells, it should be viewed as a plus. Thankfully, Wells was able to make a sacrifice and financially accomodate his presence this year.