We are only the second week into 2020 and the Rams have certainly been keeping everyone within and around the organization busy, including us here at Downtown Rams.
We’ve seen coaches leave by either taking new jobs or not being retained by the team. Along with that, there have been talks of what players the Rams will potentially re-sign, cut or even possibly trade.
Today, I’ll be breaking down the Rams’ options at the safety position, including players currently under contract, players set to become free agents, and players the Rams could potentially sign to add depth at that position.
First, I’ll go over the guys who the Rams currently have under contract for 2020 or are set to hit free agency.
FS John Johnson III (2019 Rams)
In 2019, before his season-ending injury, John Johnson III was on an absolute tear in the first six games of the season. At that point he already had two interceptions; that would have put him on a pace for at least five which would have been a career-high since his highest total was previously four. He also boasted one forced fumble and 51 combined tackles (24 solo, 27 assisted, 2 TFL) which even more so could have been paced for career highs as well.
Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to injury, leading rookie Taylor Rapp into becoming a starter. Look for JJ3 to have a massive bounce back season in 2020, a contract year in which all Rams fans hope to see the team lock him up to a multi-year deal.
FS Eric Weddle (2019 Rams)
2020: $4.75M (Rams have the option to cut him to save on cap space)
Before the 2019 season started the Rams signed veteran Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle on a two-year deal after spending three years in Baltimore, and nine with the San Diego Chargers. You could say that in an up and down year Weddle did have good tackling numbers, but in terms of turnovers, not so much. Weddle did have 108 combined tackles (69 solo, 39 assisted, 1 TFL) but had no interceptions or fumble recoveries/forced fumbles.
Since the emergence of Taylor Rapp (after taking over for John Johnson due to an injury), Weddle has stated that if Rapp and Johnson start next year he won’t want to become a backup. All signs point to the fact that Weddle could be on his way out the door once it is possible for the Rams to cut him without being affected too much by the salary cap ramifications.
FS Nick Scott (2019 Rams)
Unfortunately, there really isn’t much to talk about when it comes to Nick Scott for his rookie season in 2019. He only managed two tackles (one solo and assisted) in 16 games. But, the Rams do like him and he is locked up until 2023 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Although, he has a chance to show what he is capable of since this year he could see more time backing up John Johnson III if Eric Weddle indeed cut by the team.
SS Taylor Rapp (2019 Rams)
If there is anyone on the Rams that I’m most excited about for 2020 it’s Taylor Rapp, who the Rams have locked up until 2023. The second round pick from Washington has made a case where he could be a future superstar in this league. Rapp didn’t get his first start until week 7 after Johnson went down with an injury, but when he did, he made a case to be a starter in 2020.
He finished off the season with two interceptions, including one for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, along with a fumble recovery. Every one of his turnovers came way of Arizona this season, so he already has their number. He capped off his rookie year with 99 combined tackles (61 solo, 38 assisted, and 3 TFL). This guy is the definition of a ball hawk and as stated before, he has made a case to be a starter in 2020.
SS Jake Gervase (2019 Rams)
Jake Gervase didn’t have 2019 to remember since he only played in two games as an undrafted free agent. He is signed to a deal in 2020 with an exclusive-rights free agent in 2021 because of playing less than two years in the league and their contracts have expired.
Not sure if he will be coming back after 2020 so don’t be surprised if the Rams trade his rights away.
SS Marqui Christian (2019 Rams)
Marqui Christian is the only “current Rams player” who doesn’t have a contract going into the 2020 season. He has played all four years with the Rams since 2016 when they moved back to Los Angeles. In 2018 he tallied 36 combined tackles (28 solo, 8 assisted), and in 2019 he finished with 32 combined tackles (25 solo, 7 assisted). He is a good player with some upside but at 25 this is the year where he needs to step up if he wants to get a bigger contract. The Rams could sign him back to backup Taylor Rapp, who has pretty much from all indications locked up that starting strong safety role. Christian wouldn’t be a bad backup to give Rapp rests during games and in garbage time if the Rams are up big.
Potential Players to Sign
Here are some potential free safeties the Rams could possibly sign in 2020 to backup John Johnson III to add depth to the roster.
Damarious Randall (2019 Browns) $1.97M 31st ranked FS ( Free Agent Forecast)
2019: 11 games, 45 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 PD
2018: 15 games, 72 tackles, 4 INT, 9 PD
Granted, Randall was on some underachieving Browns teams in 2018 and 2019, but the Packers’ 2015 first round pick has shown that he can play.
In 2018 he did match his career high in interceptions with four but exploded for tackles with 85 combined over 15 games. Unfortunately, 2019 wasn’t a year he wanted to remember but he still is capable of playing good defense as he is only 27 (plus he wouldn’t be an expensive pick up either).
Jeff Heath (2019 Cowboys) $1.917M
35th ranked FS (Free Agent Forecast)
2019: 13 games, 37 tackles, 7 PD
Jeff Heath would be another solid backup free safety even if he had a dip in production in 2019 compared to 2018. In 2018, he did manage one interception while compiling 85 combined tackles (63 solo, 22 combined, 6 TFL).
For only being 28, Heath could be a guy to look at if you want a backup behind Johnson.
DJ Swearinger (2019 Saints) $805K
41st ranked FS (Free Agent Forecast)
2019: 8 games, 32 tackles, 2 PD
DJ Swearinger had an interesting 2018 season. By that, I mean he played for three teams (Arizona, New Orleans, and Oakland) and manages to have 49 combined tackles between stops. The Texans’ 2013 second-round pick from South Carolina has had an interesting career too. He has bounced around from a few teams but has the productivity that still says that he can play. Not an expensive pickup and can be a solid backup if you are looking for a tough safety that can be a ball hawk at
This concludes the positional breakdown of the safeties for the Rams as we go into the 2020 season. If there is someone we missed we would love to hear from you guys on who you think the Rams should be looking at to sign this off-season.
Downtown Rams will be breaking down other positions during the off-season as well, so make sure to check out the website and keep up with us on our social media platforms for when they do come out.