If the L.A. Rams believe they are capable of shoring up a few key starting positions without losing any of their top players, then the roster won’t be that far off from the one that won the Super Bowl. But if the Rams need to pull out a trump card that frees up cash—namely a $17 million base salary—and brings back a first round pick, then trading Jalen Ramsey is the most likely move to reload without rebuilding.
At this point, a trade is purely based out of speculation, not only for the obvious reasons posted above but also because of interestingly worded tweets by Ramsey himself (that Ramsey later explained as being related to the Pro Bowl) and now comments by Rams COO Kevin Demoff this week. Comments that not only address Ramsey rumors, but setup the possibility that anything could happen with any players this offseason.
NFL Network’s Bridget Condon asked Demoff directly about Ramsey’s future and rather than saying L.A. would have no other plans than to keep him, or even declining to answer, the COO said the Rams have “to figure out what’s best moving forward” and then expressing gratitude for what Ramsey’s done during his Rams career.
“People are always inquiring about our talent, and it’s not just Jalen. We get calls on all of our good players all of the time. In the next few months, we’ll see which direction this team goes.”
Are the #Rams going to trade Jalen Ramsey?— Bridget Condon (@BridgetCondon_) February 16, 2023
Rams COO Kevin Demoff told me
"I think for all of our players it's going to be about figuring out what's best moving forward...but could not be more grateful for Jalen for what he's done for the Rams leading this defense." pic.twitter.com/7ST22h2JPJ
There are two major points to make above all others:
Number one, Kevin Demoff is the COO and the not the GM. He may know everything that’s going on and have his input, but I think he’s speaking honestly from a place of saying something like “I kind of don’t know, but I understand why people would think that.”
Number two, what does he really say here? Nothing. Even if Demoff was going to reveal valuable and honest information about a pending Ramsey trade, which he wouldn’t, an answer like, “We would never trade Jalen Ramsey” might be exactly what you would say if you were trying to trade Jalen Ramsey.
At least Demoff is acknowledging in the short clip above that the 2022 L.A. Rams were a horrible football team. That can’t continue, even if they do resemble the team that won the Super Bowl a year earlier. We can’t ignore that the Rams came close to losing in the divisional round and NFC Championship prior to a close Super Bowl victory over the Bengals. If L.A. had blown their lead against the Buccaneers and lost, what would we really be holding onto at this point?
A 12-5 team that disappointed in the playoffs and a 5-12 team? A .500 team over two years?
With no first round pick and work to do to get under the salary cap, a Ramsey trade would save $5.6 million against the 2023 cap and surely bring back at least a first round pick. Perhaps even more important, the Rams would be saving $15.3 million against the 2024 cap and they’d know that if they sign some backloaded deals again this year, they have the money to pay those players next year.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be Ramsey. There’s reason to believe that teams would be interested in Joe Noteboom at an $8.5 million cap hit for the acquiring franchise, although the return for L.A. would be much less. Demoff mentions that teams inquire on the whole team (probably not Allen Robinson though), but we can probably rule out Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and now Bobby Wagner as players who won’t be negotiated in any trade calls.
Getting a team to take on Leonard Floyd’s $13.5 million base salary might be feasible, but again wouldn’t return much to the Rams. Apart from those names, Ramsey and Noteboom are the only ones that seem to make sense and Noteboom may not have much of a market. Ramsey would have a robust one.
Demoff isn’t ruling anything out. But we can probably rule out most of the roster. Most of it.