Ever since they re-signed defensive end William Hayes just prior to the start of free agency and then made a pair of big-ticket purchases in free agency (Jared Cook, Jake Long), the Rams have been all but searching under the couch cushions for salary cap relief.
The relief has arrived in the form of a contract restructuring by defensive end Chris Long - one that freed up $4.5 million in cap space. The contract actually was signed Friday by Long but showed up on the NFL Players Association files Monday.

Long still gets the same amount of money; the restructure is merely an accounting move shuffling money around to free up cap space in 2013.

Long was scheduled to make $13.25 million in guaranteed base salary in 2013. The Rams took $6 million off that base salary and converted it into a pro-rated roster bonus payable during the ’13 season. However, the pro-ration means the $6 million is split into four $1.5 million “installments” in terms of cap count over the remaining four years of Long’s contract - 2013, ’14, ’15, and ’16.

So instead of counting $13.25 million against the cap this year, Long counts $8.75 million.

Prior to the Long restructure, the Rams had only $244,000 of cap space. The team took advantage of the restructure Monday by turning in the contract of guard/tackle Chris Williams. Williams agreed to re-sign with the team three weeks ago, but the Rams didn’t have the cap room to turn in his contract until now.

The restructure should give the Rams enough money to sign their draft picks. And in theory, the extra cap space could help the team re-sign safety Quintin Mikell, or sign free-agent linebacker Daryl Smith.

Smith, the former Jacksonville Jaguar, paid a free-agent visit to Rams Park three weeks ago. With the draft so close, the team probably wouldn’t move on any free agents until over the weekend at the earliest.