The Los Angeles Rams rewarded two major contributors that helped them win a Super Bowl in 2021 – giving re-worked contracts to Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp during minicamp last week.
With Donald, Kupp, Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, Allen Robinson, and Joseph Noteboom signed for the foreseeable future, who could the Rams reward next?
Rob Havenstein, RT
Havenstein has been a steady presence at right tackle for LA since entering the league in 2015. While he’s rarely ever mentioned among the best tackles in football, he’s certainly well-above average.
The veteran is an unrestricted free agent in 2023 and he will hit the open market at age 30, which is fairly young for a tackle that has as much starting experience as Havenstein. While he’s slated to make around $9.6M in 2022, he could take much more than that to retain Havenstein – re-signing Joseph Noteboom this offseason came with a 3-year price tag of $40M.
Could the Rams instead opt to retain Bobby Evans at a lower price and have him compete with Alaric “AJ” Jackson for the starting role at right tackle in 2023, allowing Havenstein to test the free agent waters?
6’8, 330 lbs incoming!
Its hard to believe that Rob Havenstein is entering his 8th season as Right Tackle. #79 has had an underrated career and will play his 100th game (100th start) in week 1 of this coming September.
Big Hav will undoubtedly enter 2022 as leader of the OLine pic.twitter.com/GcsCwArror
— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) May 11, 2022
Greg Gaines, DT
After selecting Gaines in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, general manager Les Snead anointed Gaines as an immediate starting nose tackle. It took some time for this assertion to come to fruition, but Gaines emerged as a disruptive force on the defensive interior in 2021.
An injury to Sebastian Joseph-Day afforded Gaines more opportunity last season, and his encouraging development allowed the Rams to let Joseph-Day walk in free agency. Now, Gaines is also slated to be a free agent in 2023. Could LA opt to re-sign the big defensive tackle?
Joseph-Day’s deal with the Los Angeles Chargers averages about $8M over the course of three years, so that should be a fair starting point for a new deal with Gaines.
Nick Scott, DB
Los Angeles has historically not invested in the safety position, and they’ve allowed capable players like Rodney McLeod, Lamarcus Joyner, and John Johnson III to sign elsewhere in free agency.
While Scott, who was drafted in 2019 primarily to fill a special teams role, has developed into a starting safety, he still is a lesser player at this point in his career than the aforementioned McLeod, Joyner, and Johnson III.
The Rams won’t have to pay Scott at a mark near the top of the safety market, and that could be enough to keep him in LA long-term. His price tag might be more in the $6-8M range rather than the $12M+ top safeties have earned on the open market.
David Long, Jr., BC
David Long, Jr. had a rough start to the 2021 season, but he turned things around during the playoffs and was a key part in helping the Rams win a Super Bowl.
While LA has drafted three talented corners over the last two seasons, the team may want to keep Long’s experience and inside-out versatility for the foreseeable future.
Could a fellow resurgent corner like Green Bay Packers’ Rasul Douglas have set the market for Long in 2023? Douglas was re-signed this offseason for $21M over three years.
Tyler Higbee, TE
Higbee will count just over $7.6M against the Rams’ cap in 2023. Trading or cutting the veteran tight-end would net LA an additional $4.8M in space, so his days with the team could be numbered.
If the Rams want to keep Higbee around, they can give him an extension and reduce his 2023 cap hit by as much as $4.1M.
How much does the emergence of Kendall Blanton and Brycen Hopkins during last year’s playoffs impact the team’s decision to keep Higbee?