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Contract Conundrums: End of the line for Tyler Higbee and Rams?

Second longest tenured player on Rams offense could be a cap casualty

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In January, Les Snead spoke with the media about how the Los Angeles Rams are facing a remodel situation after their attempt to “run it back” failed. Snead was sure to emphasize that the Rams remodel approach was not a rebuild, but that they would have to pay off some debt that they racked up over the last few seasons in pursuit of winning a Lombardi Trophy.

Over the next month and a half, Les Snead and Tony Pastoors will spearhead the Rams front office approach in finding the best way to remodel the roster despite restrictions in cap space and no first round pick in this year’s draft.

The best way for the Rams to remodel their roster will be to find cap saving moves through the release, trade, and restructuring of contracts. Some players may require some advanced methodology to conserve cap space, while others may be more straightforward.

Player contracts revisited this offseason…

Cooper Kupp, WR

Allen Robinson, WR

Contract Conundrum #3: Tyler Higbee, TE

In 2023, Tyler Higbee will earn a base salary of $6,250,000, while carrying a cap hit of $9,125,000.

Current contract: Four years $29.0 million

Tyler Higbee Contract (Over the Cap)

Year Age Base Salary Prorated Bonus Roster Bonus Other Bonus Guaranteed Salary Cap Number Cap % Dead Money (Post-June 1 Trade) Cap Savings (Post-June 1 Trade)
Year Age Base Salary Prorated Bonus Roster Bonus Other Bonus Guaranteed Salary Cap Number Cap % Dead Money (Post-June 1 Trade) Cap Savings (Post-June 1 Trade)
2023 30 $6,250,000 $2,375,000 $0 $500,000 $0 $9,125,000 4.10% $2,375,000 $6,750,000
2024 31 Void $950,000 Void Void Void $2,850,000 1.10% $950,000 $1,900,000
2025 32 Void $950,000 Void Void Void $0 0.00% $950,000 -$950,000
2026 33 Void $950,000 Void Void Void $0 0.00% $950,000 -$950,000

Tyler Higbee represents one of the longest tenured offensive players on the Rams roster, second to Rob Havenstein. He is about to wrap up his second contractual deal with Los Angeles, a deal he signed before the 2019 season.

The contractual situation for Higbee is certainly an enigma. To understand the direction that the Rams may lean will depend on how they value his on-field production. And there are a few ways you can look at it. First and foremost, Higbee has been a productive tight end the last four years, averaging just over 600 yards and four touchdowns per season. While those numbers may not jump off the page, they come with value. Higbee’s contract in 2022 was the 18th highest amongst tight ends. While some may think that is an overpay, I’m here to tell you - it isn’t based on the market.

The piece of Higbee that causes contention with Rams fans is that Higbee has such glaring inconsistencies. And it’s always something different. Sometimes it is because of nagging injuries that leave him less than 100%. Sometimes it seems that Sean McVay forgets to incorporate him into the game plan. And then sometimes it’s just that Higbee plays poorly (drops, missed blocks, etc.)

So, what do you do with his contract? Well, it may not be straightforward, because even though Higbee has one year remaining, his deal carries three void years (2024 - 2026). In 2024, the Rams will pay Higbee $2.85 million.

At the same time, the Rams are desperate to get under the cap, as they are currently over by $14,122,570. A pre-June 1 release/trade would free up $3,900,000. A post-June 1 release/trade would free up $6.75 million.

It boils down to whether the Rams are fully committed to making Higbee a part of the weekly game plan or not. Even Rob Gronkowski chimed in, saying the Rams should use the seven-year tight end more.

Furthermore, the Rams have Brycen Hopkins on the roster and is someone that presents a case for more playing time. At the end of the day, I think the idea seems nice. But would it actually happen? Higbee has been with McVay for six years. I wouldn’t bet on McVay changing, especially if the Rams want to run the ball more in 2023.

Decision: Post-June 1 release/trade


Should the Rams release/trade Higbee before or after June 1?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Pre-June 1 release/trade
    (43 votes)
  • 75%
    Post-June 1 release/trade
    (129 votes)
172 votes total Vote Now