After the Rams franchise tagged Lamarcus Joyner yesterday. The next focus will be on free agency, which starts next week. Here are my predictions for who the Rams are going to sign.
Mark Barron – saves 7 million
Tavon Austin – saves 3 million
Both of these releases are expected and are likely to happen. Tavon Austin has been a disappointment and his contract was a joke from the get go. Mark Barron played well but he is undersized as an ILB and the Rams need to be bigger in the middle of the field.
Rams Free Agents:
Connor Barwin: Initially I believed the Rams would move on from Connor Barwin as he did not play amazing and he is getting up there in age, but since the trade of Robert Quinn, I think they will want to keep one of their veteran edge rushers around for at least one more year.
Prediction: 1 year – 3 million
Dominique Easley: Dominique Easley was slotted to be a starter next to Donald and Brockers in 2017 before he tore his ACL before the season. The Rams will be able to sign him really cheap and get a player with high upside and low risk.
Prediction 1 year – 1.5 million
Cody Davis: Davis is a special teams ace and proved he could provide adequate safety play if need be. The Rams are able to keep him for cheap which helps keep their special teams a strength and provides valuable depth at safety.
Prediction 2 years – 1.5 million per year
Nickell Robey-Coleman: One of the most under the radar signings of 2017, NRC is consistently one of the top nickel corners in the league and provided the Rams with good depth at the cornerback position when injuries struck. Resigning Coleman keeps the Rams secondary a strength.
Prediction 3 years – 3.5 million per year
Notable Rams Free Agents who were not resigned:
Trumaine Johnson: It was reported that the Rams were interested in resigning Johnson but his price tag proves to be too much for them.
Prediction: Signs with the Oakland Raiders
Sammy Watkins: This one is going to make a lot of Rams fans mad. Sammy Watkins is a great player but I think he will be demanding too much and the Rams will not be comfortable with it.
Prediction: Signs with the San Francisco 49ers
John Sullivan: I was torn on whether I think the Rams will resign John Sullivan or not. I ultimately decided they would not as I think they will try to slowly replace the older players on the oline over the next couple of years. This year they will draft a replacement for John Sullivan and next year they will focus on replacing Andrew Whitworth.
Jake McQuaide: I love Jake McQuaide but long snapper just isn’t viewed as an important enough position to focus on. I can see the Rams signing him later on in free agency if he hasn’t been picked up but I ultimately think they will get an undrafted long snapper to replace him at a cheaper cost.
Prediction: Signs with New Orleans Saints
Free Agent Signings:
Trent Murphy: Murphy was suspended for 4 games this last year for PED’s and is coming off a torn ACL, which will hurt him in Free Agency. He was drafted in the 2nd round in the 2014 NFL draft and in 2016 had a productive season with 8 sacks. He has familiarity with the Rams coaching staff which leads me to believe they will go after him. If he can stay clean he could come in and provide a solid addition on the edge.
Prediction: 1 year – 2.5 million
Jimmy Graham: This one is a complete shot in the dark but I can see this being a surprise signing for the Rams. Jimmy Graham was one of the best Tight Ends in the league when he was with New Orleans but when he was traded to Seattle his production took a hit. Sean McVay loves Tight End mismatches and gets a slam dunk with Jimmy Graham. The Rams may have lost Sammy Watkins but Graham can add another dimension to the offense that wasn’t really there last year. On top of that, the Rams get a player from a division rival which is always a plus.
Prediction: 4 years – 8 million per year
Aqib Talib: The Rams are planning on making their secondary the nastiest in the league by picking up Aqib Talib. He is familiar with Wade Phillips and can come in across from Marcus Peters and make the Rams Cornerbacks absolutely frightening. Talib isn’t the same player has he was 3 years ago but he is still a great corner that can hold that spot for a couple of years while young corners are groomed behind him.
Prediction: 3 years – 8 million per year
Avery Williamson: This will be one of the Rams’ biggest Free Agent signings. After they release Mark Barron they will replace him with Avery Williamson. Williamson will come in and be the best ILB on the team and will improve the run defense, which was a big weakness for the Rams last year.
Prediction: 4 years – 9 million per year
Other possible options in Free Agency:
Shaquil Barrett: Shaquil Barrett is a RFA so he will be difficult for the Rams to obtain. The Broncos are expected to put a 2nd round tender on him which would mean the Rams would have to give them a second round pick to get him which means the Rams would not get him, but if the Broncos place the original-round tender on him then the Rams would jump all over him. He is very familiar with Wade Phillips and given the Rams need for OLB’s I believe if the Rams have a chance to get him then they will.
Todd Davis: Davis played for Wade Phillips while he was in Denver and if the Rams cannot get Williamson I could see them target Davis as a solid backup plan. He would bring solid run stopping ability to be a great compliment to Alec Ogletree.
Bashaud Breeland: This is another player that the Rams coaching staff is very familiar with. Breeland is a very good and young corner that would be a really nice addition across from Marcus Peters. Breeland would be a better long term option then Aqib Talib but with Les Sneads “win now” attitude I feel as though he will go after a proven vet with experience in Wade’s system over the young corner.
I believe the Rams will target an edge rusher in the first round unless an amazing talent drops to them or they will trade back. The Rams will use their later picks on a center, cornerback to mold behind Talib, a nose tackle and a running back to put behind Gurley. The other picks will be to solidify depth on the team.