Los Angeles Rams Free Agency, Part 1: Keeping Our Own

Los Angeles Rams Free Agency, Part 1: Keeping Our Own

by February 5, 2019 3 comments

With the Super Bowl loss in the past, Rams nation shifts to what is, for some people, the most fun part of football. As the offseason gets underway, the Los Angeles Rams’ focus will turn to the 2019 season. Here is a list of which players’ contracts will be expiring in March, via Over the Cap:

Ndamukong Suh, DT
Lamarcus Joyner, S
Rodger Saffold, LG
Dante Fowler, Jr., OLB
Dominique Easley, DE
Matt Longacre, OLB
Sam Shields CB
Ethan Westbrooks, DE
Sean Mannion, QB
C.J. Anderson, RB
Ramik Wilson, ILB
Troy Hill, CB
Malcolm Brown, RB
Bryce Hager, ILB
Dominique Hatfield, CB
JoJo Natson, WR
Cory Littleton, ILB
Blake Countess, S
Morgan Fox, DE
Kevin Peterson, CB
KhaDarel Hodge, WR
Garrett Sickels, OLB

Obviously, several players stand out on this last after great 2018 seasons.

DT Ndamukong Suh: The Nebraska product surprised everyone last season after he was released by the Dolphins before he signed with the Rams on a one-year, $14 million deal. He is a free agent again, and could certainly push for a multi-year deal somewhere else. Meanwhile, the Rams could use that $14 million to put towards signing a pass rusher or extending Jared Goff. But Suh seems to have found a home in the city of LA, so seeing him stick around is not a crazy thought if he and the team can meet somewhere in the middle.

FS Lamarcus Joyner: Joyner had a breakout season last year, his first at safety, before being franchised tagged heading into this year. It seems we are a year or two past the golden age of giant safety deals (remember that Tyron Mathieu and Kenny Vaccaro both remained free agents late into the summer), but it’s quite possible that Joyner will go to the highest bidder. The Rams will likely be looking to draft or sign a safety.

OG Rodger Saffold: The longest tenured Ram has been a significant part of the formidable offensive line protecting Jared Goff this year. ‘Ol Rodge is a tad “long in the tooth” (he will turn 31 this summer), and he dealt with injuries early in his career (missing 28 games in the first six seasons), but has been very reliable the last several years. Keeping him around could mean keeping cohesion among the front five. And, of course, who knows what could happen with T Andrew Whitworth and C John Sullivan. A situation where one or both of them retire seems quite possible, in which case keeping Saffold becomes absolutely essential.

EDGE Dante Fowler Jr.: Fowler joined the Rams at the trade deadline via a trade with the Jaguars and has been a helpful EDGE presence for the Rams, such as when he hit Drew Brees to force the overtime interception that would prove to be an NFC Championship clincher. The Rams could look to give Fowler a second contract and keep him around. Or they could use that money to try and sign one of the other pass rushers available, some of which include Ezekiel Ansah and Demarcus Lawrence. If the Rams let Fowler go, they would likely get a 3rd-round compensatory pick next year, recouping the 3rd they gave up to use him as a rental. The Rams need to make a move on the EDGE, whether it be keeping Fowler or signing someone else.

RB CJ Anderson: Anderson has been a God-send for the Rams, bring fresh legs and a power running game in December and the playoffs when they needed it the most. He has shown that having a thick, power back to compliment Todd Gurley is a good idea. Now for the skepticism: how much of his success was the fresh legs late in the season, and will he be worth the six- to eight-million dollars per year he will get on the free agent market? Might the Rams be better taking a compensatory pick and drafting a (cheap) bruising runner?

DT Dominique Easley: As the definition of injury prone, Easley has only played one full season in his four years in the NFL, which was last season with the Rams. He played only three games this year before injuring his knee again. He could potentially stay around on a pretty cheap contract (he only made $1.8 million this year) if the Rams want to give him another shot.

OLB Matt Longacre: Longacre is a depth defensive player who started seven games this year. He knows the defense and brings depth, and he may be relatively cheap, so keeping him around makes some sense. His fate may depend on who else the Rams bring in via free agency and the draft.

CB Sam Shields: The former Packer has been a worthy fill-in when Talib was down with an injury. There is a strong chance that he comes back again as veteran depth.

QB Sean Mannion: The Oregon State Beaver has done fine holding a clipboard on the sideline, but he does not seem to be a worthy backup to hold down the offense in the event of a Goff injury. The Rams either could bring in a mature veteran to fill this role or potentially draft a developmental guy for McVay to couch up, like a Jimmy Garoppolo situation.

Most likely to stick around: Saffold
Most likely to leave: Anderson
Biggest contract represented here: Fowler

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