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PFF projects free agent price tag for this Rams offensive lineman

Can Rams afford to pay Kevin Dotson $17M annually as a free agent?

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus (PFF) has come a long way in their free agent projects since bring Brad Spielberger onboard in 2021. Spielberger previously worked in the front office of the Minnesota Vikings and then for Over The Cap, an important resource in tracking the salary cap resources for teams across the NFL. Each year Speilberger, along with help from Over The Cap, projects potential contract values for each of PFF’s top 100 free agents.

He expects Los Angeles Rams free agent RG Kevin Dotson to garner a four-year contract that will pay him $17.25M annually. In total this potential deal would be worth $69M with $41.25M being fully guaranteed. PFF ranked Dotson as their 23rd overall free agent regardless of position:

Dotson was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Los Angeles Rams this offseason, and what first appeared like an odd fit should have instead been a signal that head coach Sean McVay was reinventing his offense to much success in 2023. McVay pivoted from a wide-zone rushing attack to a heavy gap scheme, and Dotson was a picture-perfect fit. He has always been a strong pass protector, which carried over, as well.

The guard combination of Dotson and rookie Steve Avila helped revamp the Rams’ running game and pivot from a mostly zone scheme to a gap-based system that leaned heavily on duo concepts. The big bodies of Dotson and Avila added power to LA’s interior offensive line and these players are stark comparisons from the more agile, undersized guards they’ve started in the past like David Edwards, Joe Noteboom. and Coleman Shelton.

The improvement of the offensive line played an important role in Kyren Williams’ second-year breakout campaign, and it helped keep Matthew Stafford (mostly) healthy for the full season en route to the playoffs. The Rams cannot risk regression from the group, and they’ll be pressured to retain Dotson—though they should have a maximum price tag in mind and not be willing to cross that line. We’ve seen the Rams be frugal in free agency most years, though they sometimes have lapses in judgement when there isn’t time to fully vet the decision. That’s what happened when they were unable to re-sign Von Miller in 2022 and instead pivoted to a large free agent deal for WR Allen Robinson.

Is $17.25M annually too steep for the Rams to re-sign Kevin Dotson? What are LA’s alternatives if the breakout guard signs elsewhere in free agency?