Rams Record-Breaker Called ‘Most Likely’ Cap Casualty for Offseason

Tyler Higbee

Getty Tyler Higbee bursts through the Seahawks on January 8, 2023 in Seattle.

Tough decisions loom for the Los Angeles Rams involving some key pieces to their string of runs. Even franchise record breakers may not be safe from offseason moves.

Enter Tyler Higbee, the franchise’s record-breaking tight end.

Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire on USA Today labeled “Big Rig Higs” the top potential cap casualty for the upcoming 2023 free agency period.

“When looking at the roster, Tyler Higbee appears to be the most likely candidate to be a cap casualty this offseason,” DaSilva wrote on Monday, January 16. “The Rams inked Higbee to a four-year, $29 million extension in 2019, which includes three void years from 2024 to 2026.”

Even with Higbee’s production — which included becoming the all-time touchdowns leader among Rams tight ends this season and shattered single-season marks in yards for the position in 2019 — Higbee still has a costly figure in the Rams’ salary cap for the upcoming offseason.

“Despite hauling in a career-best 72 passes in 2022, Higbee is an average tight end that counts $9.13 million against the cap in 2023,” DaSilva said.

Parting ways with him would mean the franchise nearly saving $7 million in cap room.

“If the Rams are going to move on from Higbee, releasing or trading him after June 1st will incur a dead-cap penalty of $2.38 million while the team would save $6.75 million,” DaSilva said.

The Rams are currently over $2.7 million in cap space as of January 2023 per Spotrac.


Higbee Came Back Strong From ACL Tear

Higbee was robbed of his chance in lining up with the Rams in Super Bowl 56 after going down with a knee injury.

But he responded in a big way for 2022 despite the team dropping to 5-12 in an injury ravaged season — by becoming one of two season opening starters on offense to finish the year playing in all 18 games alongside right tackle Rob Havenstein.

Higbee again would hit the record books for tight ends in Rams history. With 20 career touchdowns, he became the team’s all-time touchdowns leader for the position. And with 72 receptions, he broke his previous team-best mark of 69 in 2019.

He was one of two Rams targets who surpassed the 70-catch threshold, the other being Cooper Kupp who still led the Rams in all three receiving categories despite missing half of the season with an ankle injury. And Higbee caught all of his passes while having to adjust to four different quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford, John Wolford, Bryce Perkins and for the final five games Baker Mayfield.

Higbee racked up his most single game yardage with Mayfield feeding him the football on Christmas Day: 94 yards on nine receptions in the 51-14 trouncing of the Denver Broncos, which additionally saw Higbee score twice.

The veteran tight end even had to fight off a late elbow injury to finish out the rest of the regular season, playing on the ailment in the Battle of L.A. versus the Chargers on New Year’s Day.


Can Rams Restructure Higbee’s Deal?

While that appears to be a possibility, given Higbee’s age of being 30, he could qualify as someone who can make lesser money to stay on with the Rams.

There are reasons to keep him: He became a pillar to the offense as a blocker and receiving threat at tight end the moment Sean McVay became head coach. Higbee’s first 60 and 70 reception seasons were through McVay’s offense. He adds a valuable veteran presence in the locker room as well.

But the Rams have other contracts to address, notably the team’s top pass rusher from this past season Leonard Floyd and his $64 million deal he once signed with the team. Starting center Brian Allen is another who has been labeled as a cut candidate by both DaSilva and the Pro Football Network, which would give the Rams $4.6 million in cap savings.

Higbee is among the tough decisions looming for the Rams, who now has to decide if they want to keep rolling with “Big Rig Higs” or attempt to go with a younger driver at TE.

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