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Being rewarded for 2023 performance with 3-year deal fulfilling for Kevin Dotson

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Initially, the Rams' expectation was that Kevin Dotson would hit the open market in order for him and the team to work toward a number that made sense for both sides.

A pending unrestricted – and first-time – free agent, Dotson had expectations for how he thought discussions would go based on conversations with others who had been in that position.

But after the talks he had with the Rams ahead of the March 11 beginning of the NFL's negotiating period, Dotson ultimately arrived at this conclusion:

Why wait?

"I just think we had pretty good communication with each other and my agent is really good at being able to get us to that point where everybody feels comfortable and being able to get into the situation where we're having talks about respectable numbers pretty early on," Dotson said Thursday. "I think they did a good job of not going how the usual route goes.

"I asked a lot of people who've been in contracts before about what's the first, how it's going to start and stuff like that and they said usually teams gives you a really, really small starting point just to kind of haggle and they didn't really haggle too much with me or try to start low balling me at the beginning. Everything felt respectable from the beginning to end so I think they made the process easy too."

After agreeing to terms on March 8, Dotson officially signed his new 3-year deal on March 11.

Dotson said he felt great about how the deal got done. While the process can be stressful at times based on both sides wanting something, they came to a "pretty good" solution everyone felt good about.

It wasn't really important to Dotson to get a deal done before free agency formally began, either.

"It was just one of the things that I would rather have done," Dotson said. "If I can get something done with the Rams, then I was ready to do that rather than have to do too many talks in the free agency market."

Continuity proved an important factor in coming back to Los Angeles, as well as L.A. itself.

"I think for me personally, it's being able to come back to the same coach in the same system for two years in a row and then being in a place that's actually really enjoyable to be in outside of football also," Dotson said. "A big selling point for me was how I felt day to day in California."

When his journey with the Rams began in late August last year, Dotson was fully aware that he was entering an important year. It was the final year of his rookie contract, and a fresh start with a new team meant a big opportunity for his impending free agency.

Dotson said the trade to the Rams early last season was anxiety-inducing, in part because "it's not like I was coming here guaranteed to start." But after starting in Week 4, he never relinquished the role.

Thanks to a Rams offensive system that allowed him to play freely – less thinking and second-guessing – he met the moment, and was rewarded accordingly.

"It was really fulfilling to be able to set my mind on something, find the plan of attack and be able to really go through with it," Dotson said. "It felt great, man. It just feels like I came in there with a mission and I was able to check all the boxes even more than I even believed I was going to. So it definitely felt good."

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