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Why Joe Noteboom could be a valuable trade chip for Rams in 2023

As frustrating as injuries have been, a lot of teams need a left tackle

NFL: SEP 25 Rams at Cardinals Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As a Los Angeles Rams fan, you may think that the concept of trading left tackle Joseph Noteboom is an absurd premise. Noteboom signed a three-year, $40 million contract in the offseason, before having ever played a full season at left tackle, and he’s been out since a Week 6 injury which is not his first long stint on IR.

Rest assured that in spite of all those negatives, Joe Noteboom is easier to trade than you think and because the Rams have received anywhere from passable-to-good snaps out of A.J. Jackson and Ty Nsekhe, the cost savings and likelihood of recouping draft picks make a deal more likely than most assume.

Without making any Noteboom moves whatsoever, the Rams will have him back next season at a $15.5 million salary cap hit, which ranks 14th in the NFL among left tackles. That alone makes Noteboom a reasonable keep option for L.A., so long as he has a healthy and slightly above average season for the Rams. That’s not something that anyone should rule out. Noteboom looked very good in nine starts at left tackle in place of Andrew Whitworth in 2020.

That $15.5 million is broken down as an $8.5 million base salary ($5 million guaranteed), a $5 million roster bonus due in March, and a $2 million prorated portion of his signing bonus.

Let’s pretend that the Rams decided to cut Noteboom:

  • They would save $8.5 million cash: $5 million roster bonus+$3.5 million of his base salary
  • They would have to pay him $5 million of his base salary and then they would have to incur a huge hit on his remaining $2 million prorated signing bonus payments because L.A. added void years in 2025, and 2026
  • Total cap savings: $2.5 million remaining
  • They would still have dead money hits of $6 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025, and $2 million in 2026

Cutting Noteboom does not carry enough savings to justify cutting Noteboom. For $2.5 million in savings, why not just keep him and let Noteboom compete against Jackson for the starting left tackle role in August? By the end of camp, the Rams could still attempt to trade Noteboom if Jackson wins the job.

But trading Noteboom in March makes a lot of sense. I doubt that the Rams could get another team to pay his $5 million roster bonus, but that’s pocket change to Stan Kroenke’s team and it clears that way to recoup a decent draft pick or two for a player who plays a position of need.

And they wouldn’t have to pay Noteboom a $15.5 million cap hit in 2023, so that would actually make him one of the best bargains at left tackle in the NFL.

If the Rams decide to trade Noteboom after paying his bonus:

  • They unload his $8.5 million base salary, including the $5 million guaranteed portion
  • The Rams would be left with his $2 million prorated payments, but that was always going to be the case as soon as Noteboom signed on the dotted line
  • The immediate savings could be minimal, but unloaded the $8.5 million base salary does clear the way for a player at another position of comparable value
  • The team acquiring Noteboom only owes him an $8.5 million base salary in 2023 and they can decide if he’s worth a $10 million base salary in 2024

The team that acquires Noteboom will be paying him $8.5 million, which ranks outside of the top-20 left tackles in the NFL. He would be making less than Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas, a recent top-five pick entering his third season, so in a way it would be like having a player at the back half of his rookie deal. He’d be making less than the likes of Tytus Howard, Charles Leno, Jonah Williams, and Duane Brown.

Doesn’t sound so bad under those terms, does it?

Every year, plenty of teams are in the market for a left tackle and the scarcity of known quantities who become available should make Joe Noteboom a valuable commodity on the trade market. The Chiefs have an uncertain situation with star Orlando Brown, the Jets do not know what they have in Mekhi Becton but haven’t gotten anything out of Duane Brown, the Bears need a miracle for their offense and offensive line, the Packers have endless injury issues with David Bakhtiari, the entire AFC South could be in the market for a left tackle if the Texans part with Laremy Tunsil, the Steelers and Patriots could also be interested.

No shortage of suitors, especially not at $8.5 million.

If the Rams like A.J. Jackson enough, then it’s not a matter of if they can trade Noteboom, it’s only a matter of how high the bidding will go.

Perhaps with his injury history and undefined record of play on Sundays, the Rams wouldn’t secure a first or second round pick. Anything up to a third is not an unreasonable place to start negotiations.

Believe it or Note.