With the NFL season behind us and the offseason upon us it’s time to take a look at the Los Angeles Rams dream offseason. Coming off a season where they went 4-12 and cleaned house in regards to their coaching staff, they need a lot to go right for 2018 to be a promising year. The Rams started the offseason off hot, already hiring the young and brilliant offensive mind of Sean McVay to be our head coach. Even better he brought in arguably the best defensive coordinator in the league, Wade Philips. Now without a first round pick, a new offensive and defensive playbook, and a lot of roster spots to improve upon this offseason is huge for the Rams. We will look at the three most important spots of the NFL offseason roster cuts, free agency, and the draft. This is the Rams’ dream offseason, and hopefully it comes true.
Lance Kendricks has been a serviceable tight end over his career with the Rams. Now nearing 30 years old and being a high-end backup at best it’s time for the Rams to move on from the veteran. Kendricks is coming off a season where he caught 50 balls for 499 yards and two touchdowns; those aren’t very good numbers for a starting tight end. Considering that he’s also a below average blocker, the Rams don’t have much use for him in their young, rebuilding offense. Kendricks has two years remaining on his current contract with an average cap hit of $4.25-million. While it’s not crazy money, he’s certainly not worth it. If the Rams cut him now they owe him nothing and will have no dead money from it.
Sims is another guy who has spent his entire career with the Rams. He’s about to turn 31 years old and is no longer worth keeping around as a backup. With the Rams switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense under Wade Philips, Sims doesn’t really fit the system. He’s not big or strong enough to play the 5-technique defensive end spot or athletic enough to be an edge linebacker. Sims has been a quality rotational backup, but coming off a year where he had just eight starts, it’s obvious he’s not worth keeping. He’s a well below-average pass rusher and average-at-best run defender. With two years remaining on his contract and an average cap hit of $3.5-million there’s no sense in keeping him. Cutting him will result in just $750,000 in dead money.
There’s no reason to continue to keep him on the roster. Tre Mason doesn’t look like he’ll ever continue his NFL career because of off-the-field issues. He was arrested as recently as January and the Rams shouldn’t count on him returning to the team. It’s a sad situation and I hope he gets help, but the Rams must cut him. He only has one year remaining on his rookie deal with a cap hit of $911,632. Cutting him will result in $159,375 in dead money.
With the three previous cuts the Rams will go into free agency with $44,295,537 in cap room. The first moves that need to be made are retaining our own quality free agents. I’ve calculated the contracts that they can afford to give them while keeping in mind what they would fetch in the open market. The contracts listed below will be formatted by years and cap hit. This way, the contract will include base salary and signing bonus.
Rams Free Agents
Contract: 3 years/$24,000,000
Kenny Britt should be a lock to bring back for the Rams. He’s by far their best playmaking pass-catcher. He’ll be extremely important in helping Jared Goff develop in Sean McVay’s offense. This contract would make him the 19th highest paid receiver in the league. His inconsistencies and off-field issues should drive the open market price down for Britt. This deal is worth the risk for the Rams.
Contract: 4 years/$36,000,000
Johnson had an up and down season playing under the franchise tag for LA. He’s by far the best cornerback on the roster and should be a priority. Johnson excels using his size and would be the perfect number one corner in Wade Philips system, think Aqib Talib. This contract would make him the 14th highest paid cornerback.
Contract: Franchise tag (1 year/$10,961,000)
TJ McDonald had his best season as a Ram. McDonald has developed into an above average coverage strong safety and uses his size to play well in the box. Franchise tagging him would be the best option to buy the Rams time on his contract.
Contract: 3 years/$9,500,000
Zuerlein is a top 10 kicker in the NFL and deserves to be paid like one. The Rams shouldn’t make the mistake of not retaining him. He’s consistent and gets the job done. This would make him the 9th highest paid kicker in the NFL.
Contract: 2 years/$2,000,000
Thomas is a solid contributor off the bench for the Rams. He’s a backup rotational defensive lineman who uses strength to win. He should be retained because he has experience playing in a 3-4 defense. He’s played both as a 5-technique and a nose tackle in his career.
Dominique Easley (RFA):
Contract: Original round tender (1 year/$1,671,000)
Easley is a restricted free agent and tendering him is a no brainer. Easley was a rotational defensive tackle last season in LA. This year he has a good shot to be starting at the 5-technique spot.
NFL Free Agents
After re-signing our own free agents to these deals we will have just over $13-million in cap space left. Without a first round pick we will need just over $4-million to sign our rookie draft class. Here are some free agents we should target.
Contract: 2 years/$10,000,000
Michael Floyd is a boom or bust type of free agent. He’s a former first round pick who has put up solid numbers in his career. After being released by Arizona for a DUI and finishing the season in New England as a healthy scratch his price tag shouldn’t be too high. Teammates loved Floyd in Arizona and he could get a ton of playing time outside, opposite Britt.
Contract: 2 years/$3,000,000
The Rams need a backup running back that can actually help Todd Gurley carry the load. Hightower is over 30-years-old, but coming off a season with the Saints where he had over 700 total yards. Hightower can run well between the tackles and add some pass catching ability out of the backfield.
Contract: 2 years/$2,000,000
Fasano isn’t a big signing by any means, but he would be a good one. Fasano is the ideal backup tight end for the Rams. He’s a veteran presence in the locker room as well as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league.
Round 2, Pick 5:
Tre’Davious White, Cornerback, LSU
With Trumaine Johnson locked up in this scenario and Lamarcus Joyner set to start at nickel the Rams need another outside corner. Tre’Davious White from LSU has some of the quickest feet in the draft. He would be a round two steal in a deep cornerback class and would start from day one.
Round 4, Pick 5:
Jordan Leggett, Tight End, Clemson
With not much experience at tight end on the roster, outside of Fasano in this scenario, the Rams need to draft a tight end. Ideally in a tight end deep class Jordan Leggett will fall to them. He’s got prototypical size at 6’5”, 250lbs and has played both in-line and in the slot. He would be a great checkdown machine for Goff.
Round 4, Pick 34:
Taylor Moton, Offensive Tackle, Western Michigan
The 2017 offensive line class is weak. Rather than overdraft an offensive lineman the Rams should wait and take Moton. He started at left tackle for WMU, but projects ideally to guard or right tackle. Moton would give the Rams some versatility up front. He could start day one at guard if they want to play Rodger Saffold at left tackle.
Round 5, Pick 5:
Ryan Switzer, Wide Receiver, North Carolina
Ryan Switzer is one of the best route runners in the draft. At just 5’8”, 179lbs Switzer won’t be drafted too high despite having an impressive skill set. His strong hands, crisp routes, and quickness are ideal for the slot. He can also contribute on special teams right away as a punt returner.
Round 6, Pick 5:
Alex Anzalone, Linebacker, Florida
Anzalone could be the steal of the draft for the Rams. He’s instinctive, athletic, and well-built. His issue is constant injuries keeping him off the field at Florida. He would add nice depth to the linebacker core and play on all special teams.
Round 6, Pick 35:
Devonte Fields, Edge Rusher, Louisville
Fields draft stock is everywhere. Louisville was his third school because of off-field issues. He’s built extremely lean for the edge, but has a knack for stopping the run. He would be a nice backup to William Hayes.
Round 7, Pick 5:
Kyle Kalis, Guard, Michigan
Kalis plays with a mean streak. He makes up for a lack of size and athleticism with technique. He’s a very solid run blocker, but needs to improve in pass protection. He could be a solid NFL backup at all three interior offensive line spots.