Rams Defender Predicted to Turn Big 2022 Season Into ‘Sizeable Pay Day’


Getty The Rams defense during a November 7, 2021 home contest versus the Titans.

Words every NFL fan, by now, have heard before: Someone on the Los Angeles Rams is in line for a blockbuster pay day.

Aaron Donald already had his record-breaking deal moment on June 6. Cooper Kupp now has the highest guaranteed money among wide receivers following his mega-contract two days after A.D. signed his.

Now there’s another key member of the Rams lined up to have his big paycheck moment.

But this Ram is someone who hasn’t made the Pro Bowl yet and began his career as a rotational player. But with injuries across the line of scrimmage, he ended up providing a needed spark especially next to Donald.

And as mentioned by Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports on Friday, June 10, he’s entering a contract year and is listed as a potential breakout candidate for the Rams.

Who Is the Potential Breakout Rams Defender?

Trapasso cited defensive tackle Greg Gaines as his Rams choice for “NFL players in contract year primed for a breakout season.”

Gaines may not be considered a household name by most NFL fans. After all, he played on a defense with three All-Pro talents in Donald, Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey — and will soon have All-Pro newcomer Bobby Wagner aligning himself behind Gaines in the Rams’ defense. But here’s why the CBS NFL analyst believes it’s Gaines who’s the breakout candidate in a contract year:

At 6-1 and 312 pounds, he has a stocky build but wins with burst, speed-to-power conversion and a non-stop motor. His hand work is polished, too. After barely playing in his first two seasons — fewer than 250 total snaps combined — Gaines fell into an important rotational role in 2021 and thrived with 38 pressures on 476 pass-rushing snaps. No, that doesn’t equate to a tremendous rate. It does, however, indicate Gaines rose to the occasion when his snaps were increased.

The Rams didn’t draft a defensive tackle in April. Gaines will be the primary starter next to Donald at the outset of the 2022 season. The former Washington Husky has a big year ahead of him, which he’ll parlay into a sizable pay day next March.

Gaines’ Current Contract & Value

Per Spotrac, Gaines is set to make $2.54 million in his base salary for the 2022 season. The former University of Washington star once signed a four-year, $3.14 million contract as part of his rookie deal.

Now, he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent for the 2023 season, when he’ll be a 26-year-old.

Here’s a reminder of the kind of plays Gaines was able to provide for the Rams when called upon. The first one: Nothing fancy, just a tipped pass. However, the tip came on third down and halted a San Francisco 49ers drive that if completed, would have placed them in three-point range on the field during the NFC title game:

Gaines also shows he’s not one to give up on chasing down running quarterbacks, as seen here versus Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars:

During the 2022 Super Bowl, Gaines’ snap explosion came into great use on this designed stunt with Miller that led to a sack of Joe Burrow:

Here are more examples of his tenacity and hustle, which includes chasing down dual-threat passers as Donald was tangled up on the line of scrimmage:

Gaines is valuable when needed. He witnessed career-bests across the board in 2021. But can the Rams keep him? Especially after losing Morgan Fox and Sebastian Joseph-Day in the past to big money deals elsewhere?

One thing is certain: He’s the defender that’s tabbed to deliver a breakout season — and give the Rams one of their top free agent priorities for 2023.

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