Once upon a time, the LA Rams were known throughout the NFL as a cheap franchise.
The Rams aren’t afraid to pay top dollar for talented players, which helps their reputation as a glamour NFL franchise and a place where players want to come.
After a Super Bowl in 2022 (sigh, the Rams are no longer defending Super Bowl champions) the Rams must do some retooling to get back in the mix in the NFC, but they have the resources on hand to get good again, fast.
Don’t be one of those salary cap sheep. NFL teams that aren’t doing a dance with the salary cap every year are poorly run and don’t care about winning. Smart general managers don’t see the cap as a hindrance to getting good players. They make it work. Good players mean wins, wins mean playoffs, and playoffs mean Super Bowls.
We looked at the 10 highest-paid Rams 2023 based on their overall cap number (how much they eat up the NFL’s salary cap). There’s only one player of the 10 who you may be like, that’s a whiff. The rest are just who you might expect.
Cooper Kupp – $27,800,000
The best third-round pick in franchise history was Super Bowl LVI Most Valuable Player and had one of the greatest seasons a wide receiver ever had in 2021 with 1,947 yards.
He deserves the money.
This year, a high ankle sprain against the Cardinals forced him to the sidelines. He had ‘tightrope’ surgery on his ankle (instead of fusing the joint together, a rope allows it to flex). He signed a three-year, $80 million deal in 2022.
Aaron Donald – $26,000,000
Donald is entering what is likely to be the last year of his deal. He signed a three-year $95 million deal last year, but has an opt out after this season (this is more salary cap magic).
Donald is AD. He’s the best defensive lineman in the game when healthy. He’s been Defensive Player of the Year three times, an All-Pro seven times.
But even AD couldn’t avoid the injury jinx this year. He had a high ankle sprain against the Chiefs and only played in 11 games this season with a career low five sacks. He still made the Pro Bowl.
Jalen Ramsey – $25,200,000
Ramsey signed a five-year $100 million contract with the Rams when he came over in the trade in 2020. He’s entering his fourth full season with the Rams. Last season he’s the only one of the Rams Core Four to play in all 17 games. He had four picks.
Ramsey gambles some, but he makes big plays too. He’s a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. He’s the Rams swagger.
Leonard Floyd – $22,000,000
Floyd came over from the Bears in 2020 and basically hasn’t missed a game with the Rams in three years. He’s a versatile sideline-to-sideline linebacker who had nine sacks this season after 9.5 in 2021.
He’s going to be 31 entering the 2023 season, which is right at the tipping point for athletic linebackers in the NFL. The Rams signed him to a four-year, $64 million deal in 2021, so he’s not going anywhere for a while.
Matthew Stafford – $20,000,000
This is where the cap gets manipulated. Stafford’s cap number is $20,000,000 but he signed a four-year $160 million deal in 2022 with $60 million of that coming as a signing bonus.
Cap Lesson 101 – Signing bonus money doesn’t count against the cap, that’s why players get such big signing bonuses or you’ll see contracts ‘convert’ base salary into signing bonuses.
By the way, can you imagine $60 million just for signing your name?
Stafford is the Rams QB1 and guided them to the Super Bowl title in 2022 throwing for 41 touchdowns and 4,886 yards.
Unfortunately, he got hurt this season and only played in nine games, but he’s expected to make a full recovery.
Allen Robinson – $18,050,000
And this is the whiff.
The Rams inked Robinson to a three-year $46.5 million deal with a low base salary to fit him under the cap. He was supposed to become the Rams WR2 to compliment Kupp.
It just didn’t happen.
Robinson had 33 catches for 339 yards in 10 games and then suffered a stress fracture in his foot and missed the rest of the season. This wasn’t a lot of production for a lot of money.
Joseph Noteboom – $15,500,000
The Rams paid Noteboom like a starting left tackle in the NFL, signing him to a three-year $40 million deal in 2022. He was primed to take over the spot for the retired Andrew Whitworth.
It didn’t go so well.
Noteboom started six games, allowed five sacks, and then tore his Achilles tendon and missed the rest of the season. His status is one of the biggest question marks for the Rams entering the 2023 season.
Bobby Wagner – $12,500,000
After 10 years in Seattle, Wagner was the Rams big free agent signing before the 2022 season. I must confess watching him this year I didn’t think he had a good year, but the numbers say otherwise.
Wagner was second-team All-Pro this year with 143 tackles and a career-high six sacks. He signed a five-year $50 million deal in 2022 so the Rams are tethered to him for a while longer.
Rob Havenstein – $9,703,294
There must be something about the un-rounded numbers here in the Havenstein contract.
Havenstein has been around so long, he played a year in St. Louis. He’s entering his ninth year with the Rams and has only missed two games in the last three years.
In 2022, the Rams signed him to a three-year $34.5 million deal. He was the only Rams offensive lineman to play all 17 games. PFF graded him out at 73.2 and said he allowed six sacks. Those numbers are above average, but Havenstein has never made a Pro Bowl.
This is one of the best deals on the Rams books.
Tyler Higbee $9,125,000
The Rams tweaked Higbee’s contract before the 2022 season turning some of his base salary into a signing bonus (remember Salary Cap Lesson 101). This is the last year of his four-year $29 million deal he signed in 2019.
Higbee has been the Rams starting tight end for most of his eight seasons. He’s not super flashy, but he makes plays. This year when Kupp, Robinson, Stafford and the (checks notes) entire offensive line got hurt, Higbee became the Rams most reliable threat in the passing game. He had a career-high 108 targets and caught 72 balls for 620 yards.
LA Rams Highest Paid Players – Recap
- 1. Cooper Kupp 27,800,000
- 2. Aaron Donald 26,000,000
- 3. Jalen Ramsey 25,200,000
- 4. Leonard Floyd 22,000,000
- 5. Matthew Stafford 20,000,000
- 6. Allen Robinson 18,050,000
- 7. Joseph Noteboom 15,500,000
- 8. Bobby Wagner 12,500,000
- 9. Rob Havenstein 9,703,294
- 10. Tyler Higbee 9,125,000