Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead has made a few things apparent this offseason, and one of those came to fruition on Sunday as the team traded Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins for a third round pick and a tight end. He’s also let it known that the team has to pay a price for building a Super Bowl-winning roster of superstars in 2021 by trading draft picks for players and that the Rams would like to start re-setting the roster by getting back into the drafting business.
And third, Snead has let it known that the team isn’t offering up Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and Cooper Kupp.
Ummm. Why not?
With Stafford, the answer is as simple as his contract. Perhaps after June 1, if there’s a team that can afford Stafford and is desperate at quarterback, similar to the Eagles trading former Rams QB Sam Bradford to the Vikings in 2016, Snead’s position on the quarterback would change. For now, the contract is too prohibitive, as far as we know.
Although, we once thought Jared Goff’s contract was too prohibitive to be traded for Stafford in 2021.
Trading Kupp may be a question of how important he is to Stafford, to McVay, and to any quarterback who is throwing the ball in 2023. Or it could be the market. Or it could be Kupp’s wishes.
But if Aaron Donald wants to play in 2023, and if he’s willing to play somewhere other than the Rams, it’s a real question as to what his market value is and why Snead wouldn’t at least listen to those offers. It would be ideal to see Aaron Donald spend his entire career with the Rams, and we also know that the vast majority of superstar, Hall of Fame, generational talents never spend their entire careers with one team.
Not Jerry Rice. Not Joe Montana. Not Brett Favre. In a few moments perhaps, not Aaron Rodgers.
It happens. It happened for Larry Fitzgerald. Nobody is saying it shouldn’t or couldn’t happen with Donald. But Aaron Donald is now more alone on an island with the 2023 Rams defense than he’s been at any other point in his Rams career, even when the team went 4-12 in 2016.
There were not going to be teams lining up to trade a first or second round pick for Jalen Ramsey with $31.5 million in base salary guaranteed for the next two seasons.
Donald on a good defense makes them a great defense, immediately.
It is a question of whether teams would line up to trade late first or early second round picks for Donald. It’s only a matter really of whether Donald is open to playing for another team. If he’s not and wants to be on the Rams, then that’s what will happen and what should happen. But if Snead is tearing down the defense for the betterment of the future, surely there’s an option to listen to phone calls and trade offers for Donald.
If the team trades Donald, they take on a $41 million dead money hit with $15 million cap penalty for 2023. That’s a lot. It’s a hurdle, but not a roadblock. The team also goes from a projected $50 million in 2024 cap space to $85 million in 2024 cap space.
That’s also a lot.
Donald probably wouldn’t be a trade asset in 2024. He probably is in 2023, if that’s an option for Donald, Snead, McVay, and other teams.
This is not an endorsement for trading Aaron Donald. It’s just the obvious question every Rams fan should be asking: If trading Ramsey and cutting Bobby Wagner is part of the plan, why wouldn’t listening to offers on Donald also be part of the plan?
If the answer is because Donald isn’t going to play anywhere else, then we have an acceptable answer.
If that’s not the case, we have an unanswered question.