Los Angeles Rams March Scouting Report
Not so FREE agents! The new league year opened with a lot of money being tossed around on free agents. Last year at this time, Los Angeles was one of the most active teams as they acquired four new starters and lost four of their own starters via trade or free agency. The moves paid off as the Rams made it to the Super Bowl in just the second season under HC Sean McVay. Los Angeles has been less active this off-season, which is understandable given the large contracts given out last year, and they could still make more moves before the Draft. Let’s take a look at the transactions the Rams have made since free agency opened as well as possible moves that could happen.
PLAYERS THE RAMS ADDED:
FS Eric Weddle: Los Angeles signed the veteran safety after the Ravens released him and will not count against the compensatory pick formula. Weddle is past his prime but still plays at a high level and his veteran leadership should add to the locker room. The Rams signed the six-time Pro Bowler to a two year contract for a little more than what former Ram Lamarcus Joyner was paid last season under the Franchise Tag. Weddle should fit in nicely with SS John Johnson III and the other defensive backs.
LB Clay Mathews: Mathews was another Cap Casualty and was released by the Packers. Like Weddle, Mathews is six-time Pro Bowler who still has gas in the tank and should contribute on the field and in the locker room. This is California native played college football at USC so he should feel right at home in the Coliseum. Clay has versatility and can pay inside or outside linebacker so DC Wade Phillips has another weapon at his disposal. Clay is signed for two years and could end his career in Los Angeles.
QB Blake Bortles: Bortles is another veteran that his former team, the Jaguars, gave up on. Their loss is the Ram’s gain as this former number three overall pick was signed to a bargain one year deal (reportedly for only $1 million) to backup Jared Goff. Bortles had his struggles in Jacksonville, but in his second season, he threw for 35 touchdowns and over 4,400 yards. He brings much more experience and success than Sean Mannion who was the number two quarterback last season. Hopefully Jared stays healthy and Blake does not see the field in 2019-20.
PLAYERS THE RAMS RETAINED:
DL Dante Fowler Jr: Dante was acquired via mid-season trade with the Jaguars. He started the second half of the season for Los Angeles but recorded only two sacks in the regular season. His play improved in the playoffs and the Rams re-signed him to a one year $14 million dollar contract. The contract is incentive laden so if he does earn the whole amount, the Rams will have benefitted from a good season from him.
RB Malcom Brown: Brown was a restricted free agent and signed an offer sheet from the Detroit Lions. It was not a large contract so the Rams matched it and I believe his 2019 cap hit will be less than what it would have been if he signed his original tender with Los Angeles. Brown was a solid special team’s player and backup for Todd Gurley until a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely. He should be 100% going into camp and his role could increase since the Rams want to monitor Todd’s workload.
LB Corey Littleton: The leading tackler for the Rams is a restrictive free agent and Los Angeles tendered him with a second round designation tag, which means if another team signs him and the Rams do not match the offer, then the Rams will receive that team’s second round pick in the upcoming draft. I think the Rams would match another team’s offer for Corey like they did with Malcom Brown. Corey was very successful in his first season as a starter and earned his first Pro-Bowl berth. Hopefully Los Angeles signs Corey to a long term contract.
OT Andrew Whitworth: Big Whit was not a free agent but he did consider retirement after the Super Bowl, for about a minute. The Rams did not announce his return until February and his return is a huge boost for the offense.
PLAYERS THE RAMS LOST:
OG Roger Saffold: Los Angeles lost its longest tenured Ram in Saffold when he signed with the Tennessee Titans. Roger was a solid starter for many years and he will be hard to replace. Los Angeles drafted OL Joseph Noteboom last year to be Andrew Whitworth’s heir but he could slide into Saffold’s spot until Andrew retires.
OL John Sullivan: Sullivan has been a steady and heady starter the last two seasons and played a big role in Jared Goff’s development; however, he will be 34 when the season starts and Los Angeles did not pick up his option. The Rams drafted OL Brian Allen in 2018 and he could be the starting center in 2019. Allen also has experience at guard so he is also a candidate for the left guard position vacated by Roger Saffold.
FS Lamarcus Joyner: Joyner had a really good 2017 season and was franchised for the 2018 season. Unfortunately, Lamarcus was not as productive in 2018 and as an unrestricted free agent; his 2019 price was something the Rams could not afford. Best wishes go to Lamarcus who signed a huge contract with the Oakland Raiders.
LB Mark Barron: Barron joined the Rams in 2014 and had a breakout 2015 season after moving to linebacker. He signed a 5-year $45 million contract in 2016 and was very effective; however, he battled through minor injuries the past two seasons and was recently released. Mark is a solid professional and was not on the streets long as the Pittsburgh Steeler signed him less than two weeks after his release.
PLAYERS ON THE BUBBLE:
DT Ndamukong Suh: Suh is an unrestricted free agent after signing a one year deal in 2018. He has yet to sign with another team but a return to the Rams would be a surprise.
QB Sean Mannion: Sean has been a backup since being drafted in the third round of the 2015 draft. His tenure came to an end when Los Angeles signed Blake Bortles.
RB C.J. Anderson: Anderson came on late in 2018 with Gurley and Brown sidelined. He was very productive to end the regular season and into the playoffs; however, with the resigning of Brown it does not look like he will return to Los Angeles.
Although Los Angeles has not made any big splashes like it did last year, they have been very prudent signing players to replace the departing players. Mathews and Weddle are quality starters and Bortles is a definite upgrade as Goff’s backup. Retaining Fowler and Brown also stabilizes the roster with known talent and hopefully Fowler improves on last season’s success and earns all of his incentives. The Draft is about a month away so next month’s report will look at possible Ram draft picks. Love and blessings to my family. Miss you Pops! Aloha!
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Sunday, September 13th, 2020
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