The L.A. Rams were wrapping up training camp with major unanswered questions along the offensive line with the only real exceptions being that Steve Avila would play left guard and Rob Havenstein would play right tackle. With competitions everywhere else, Sean McVay would be forced to settle with Joe Noteboom at right guard, attempting to extract the last bit of value from his overpaid contract extension, until finally the front office came through with the steal of the summer: The Rams traded a 2024 fourth round pick and a 2025 fifth round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for Kevin Dotson, a 2024 fifth round pick and a 2025 sixth round pick.
For all intents and purposes, the Steelers gave the Rams guard Kevin Dotson for free. Now having completed his first season with the Rams, Dotson is about six weeks away from not being free.
PFF named Dotson as the team’s most-improved player of 2023, which highlights the fact that since he replaced all other options at right guard in Week 4, he’s been one of the best guards in football. The 27-year-old free agent is estimated by some to make as much as $18 million per season on his next contract, which if history speaks for anything, won’t be paid by the Rams.
The most improved player on each AFC West team: pic.twitter.com/TGeLG8ivIl— PFF (@PFF) February 6, 2024
Yes, the Rams did pay Noteboom and center Brian Allen. They overpaid them, in case you missed it.
The team has generally allowed free agent interior offensive linemen to walk, with one such case being Austin Corbett in 2022. Corbett played a full season with the Carolina Panthers and did quite well, but missed all but four games in 2023.
Keeping Dotson will be a matter of debate until it does or doesn’t happen, but Dotson being as improved as he is, the L.A. Rams might even net yet another compensatory pick—likely as high as the third round—if they don’t re-sign him.
That’s a deal in itself.