Can the LA Rams find another OT solution from Bengals roster?
By Bret Stuter
When the LA Rams hired a young Sean McVay to take over as the team's head coach, one of the first transactions made to improve the LA Rams roster was to sign veteran free agent offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, a veteran who had already competed for the Cincinnati Bengals for 11 seasons, and who the Bengals has all but given up on. Whitworth would go on to play another five seasons for the LA Rams, and would earn his second AP All-Pro First Team honors in his first season with the Rams.
It's pretty safe to say that signing Whitworth was a keystone that allowed the Rams to win Super Bowl LVI.
But is there more gold in the Bengals roster at offensive line? In this case, the Cincinnati Bengals have signed free agent left tackle Orlando Brown, and intend to move Jonah Williams to the right side. Williams, knowing that the earning power of a right tackle is significantly less than a left tackle, has subsequently asked to be traded. Now the only question is, are the LA Rams among the teams who are rumored to be a possible suitor?
I have to believe the answer to that question is yes. After all, it makes far too much sense for the LA Rams current list of roster needs for them NOT to be among the possible suitors. Here's why:
Facing another financial foe
The immediate challenge for the LA Rams is financial. After all, Jonah Williams is in the last year of his contract, which will translate into a huge bubble payment up from an average of $5 million per year up to $12 million for 2023. But, that is not all. It's the last year of his contract, which means that whichever team does successfully negotiate a trade with the Bengals for Williams, must do so understanding that it is only a one year rental.
But here is where the financial fun begins. If the LA Rams could manage to negotiate a trade, and a subsequent new multi-year deal with Williams, they could manage to acquire a proven offensive left tackle, can whittle away at his 2023 salary cap hit, and could conceivably have their blind side offensive tackle for the foreseeable future.
The LA Rams just restructured Joe Noteboom's contract to create salary cap space. But if the Rams can persuade the Bengals to negotiate a post-June 1 trade, then a possible trade could look like this:
Conditions to the draft pick could hinge upon Jonah Williams' playing time, or Joe Noteboom's playing time, or an algorithm for both.
Of course, the Rams would need to have some level of confidence that they could renegotiate a rapid deal with Jonah Williams agent to shave that 2023 salary cap hit, and add enough years to make this a long-term solution for the Rams roster.
If Jonah Williams becomes the Rams left tackle and plays well, while Noteboom struggles, the draft pick could be improved. On the other hand, if William struggles, and Noteboom becomes the Bengals right tackle and plays well, the pick could be lessened.
Noteboom's salary is quite affordable, and his play warrants consideration for the Bengals starting right tackle role. In fact, this trade is one of the types that truly can result in a win-win scenario. Now, the only part that remains is to get both the LA Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals on board.