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Rams owe Robert Woods a roster bonus on Sunday, will he still be on the Rams by then?

Bonuses often incite transactions before they kick in

Tennessee Titans v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

If I have learned anything over the last two years of writing at this website, it is that people do not like it when you mention the possibility of trading Robert Woods. Unfortunately, the possibility that Woods and the LA Rams are heading for a separation has grown more likely by the week since he tore his ACL on November 13 of last year.

Since that time, Odell Beckham Jr. made his Rams debut and took flight in the postseason, giving the team a glimpse of what life on offense without Woods could still like if Matthew Stafford had a different great receiver, and then Les Snead signed Allen Robinson to a contract on Thursday. That signing came three days before L.A. was obligated to pay Woods a $3.5 million roster bonus, which is now due in less than 24 hours.

Will the Rams pay it, trade Woods, or release him before it kicks in?

By cutting Woods on Saturday, L.A. would save $3.6 million and have $12.1 million in dead money in 2022, $6.4 million in 2023, and $4.2 million in 2024. The release would come less than two years after the Rams signed Woods to a four-year, $65 million extension at the age of 28. Like Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Brandin Cooks, Snead would be cutting or trading Woods before his extension even started. The team would also still have $2 million in dead money on the cap in 2025.

By trading Woods, the cap gets a little more friendly. The team would save $7.1 million in 2022, but the dead money in 2023, 2024, and 2025 would remain the same.

Is there a team interested in trading for Robert Woods and accepting his contract though? The acquiring team would not only have to pay Woods’ $3.5 million bonus tomorrow, they would also have to pay a $10 million base salary in 2022 and $13.75 million in 2023. That would essentially mean that Woods is a top-20 paid WR to his new team in 2022 and most likely a top-10 paid WR in 2023.

Essentially, Woods would only be slightly less expensive than 2021 Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp. And Woods is turning 30 in April, tore his ACL in November, and as fantastically talented as he truly is, has never made a Pro Bowl, a first or second-team All-Pro roster, and never caught more than six touchdowns in a season.

These are merely accolades but could a team justify giving up anything in return to pay over $23 million in salary for the next two seasons when Woods has three fewer career 1,000-yard seasons than someone like Amari Cooper—traded to the Browns last week for merely a fifth round pick and a sixth round pick swap?

Woods would presumably need to be traded to a team that a) could afford him, b) is desperate for a receiver, and c) has faith in his knee, no concerns about his age.

The Seahawks employ Shane Waldron, a person very familiar with Woods, but exist in the NFC West and might not be contenders right now.

The Chargers employ Brandon Staley and have $27 million in cap space, but just signed Mike Williams to a three-year, $60 million contract.

The Saints just went through hell and back to get under the 2022 cap, would they now commit $10 million to a receiver when they failed to land their next starting quarterback? No.

So if the Rams are only down to one or two teams, like the Jets and Steelers, and it gets around the league that there isn’t a strong trade market for Woods, then would either bid against themselves? Or would they simply wait to see if L.A. releases Woods and then bids to sign him to a new, less expensive deal that doesn’t require trading any picks?

I would be surprised if Robert Woods is traded today. So is Snead overly concerned about avoiding the $3.5 million roster bonus and $3.5 million in guaranteed 2022 salary, leaving a $12.1 million dead cap hit this season if he releases Woods?

That’s what we’ll find out... I just know that if he does, it won’t be popular.