Los Angeles Rams Re-sign Kevin Dotson: Not Worth The High Price Tag?

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have reached a deal with right guard Kevin Dotson worth $48 million that includes $32 million in guaranteed money over three years. And for good reason, 2023’s interior offensive line unlocked Sean McVay’s in ways Rams fans haven’t seen in years.

But the question is, is that a good allocation of the Rams salary cap space?

Los Angeles Rams Salary Cap Breakdown

His year-one cap hit will likely be around $8-$9 million. The Rams currently have ≈$40 million in cap surplus, so on its face, it doesn’t seem like a terrible cost, but the Rams have some big fish to fry on the other side of the ball. And those fish could be costly. The Rams will have to trade for or sign an edge rusher, a cornerback, and possibly a safety. The Rams are also looking to extend linebacker, Ernest Jones, who deserves a hefty contract of, at least in the $8-$10 per year range.

NFL Insider Identifies Los Angeles Rams’ Top Free Agency Priority, Names Sleeper Target

They will also have to put enough in escrow to cover another large draft class and undrafted free agents, they usually hip-pocket about $10 million for that, a few extra with a first-rounder in the mix

An impending move to cut or restructure Joseph Noteboom‘s contract will help, but adding these things up, money starts to get tight quickly. A budget option at edge rusher will run around $15 million, $5-$10 million for a starting cornerback.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants
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Better To Invest In The Defense

But that approach barely worked last season. The Rams defense was 19th in points and 20th in yards.

They could patch up the defense with cheap free agents as they did in 2023 with Ahkello Witherspoon and John Johnson. But how long can you ask the defense to hold itself together with duct tape? The defense deserves investment. The Rams rank dead last in defensive spending in the league at $57 million. Aaron Donald alone represents $34 million of that. So the remaining 22 or so players split $23 million.

Top Earning Guards Don’t Win Championships

The Rams spending this kind of money on another offensive piece is a dereliction of duty to the new defensive coordinator, Chris Shula. And retaining Dotson doesn’t guarantee the Rams a deep playoff run. Of the guards that make $10 million or more (12 players), only one has made it to the Conference Championship round of the playoffs.

Guard is a position that you can get away with a ‘good enough’ option. This has the potential to be the new version of the Noteboom extension they are currently trying to undo at the moment.

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Los Angeles Rams Offense with Kevin Dotson

Of the 30 sacks taken by Matthew Stafford, only eight were allowed by Kevin Dotson, Steve Avila, and Coleman Shelton. Both Dotson and Avila led the team in pass-blocking efficiency, 97.3, This is a PFF signature stat measuring pressure allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks allowed.

While that is impressive, what Dotson and Co. did in the running game was unique for the Rams. Kyren Williams became the first player since 1937 to finish in the top three in the NFL in rushing yards (1,144, third in NFL) despite missing four or more games.

He did so with plenty of help from the offensive line. Williams had the league’s second-most yards before contact per carry, 3.0 yards. He was just .1 yards behind the leader, Christian McCaffrey. No lead-back in the McVay era has ever had the luxury of so much space before contacting a defender

When rushing into Dotson’s gaps (right side, A and B gaps) Williams had his best production. He averaged an extra .63 yards per carry over his 5.0 yards per carry average on the year. When running to Avila’s side his average was 1.6 yards less, 4.03.

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