With free agency approaching teams will be forced to cut players in order to attempt to get under the cap. According to Spotrac, the Los Angeles Rams are currently $35M over the cap and will need to make some moves in order to fix that. A lot of that will be with restructured contracts, but the Rams might also have to make some difficult decisions. Here are five players that could get cut before free agency.
P Johnny Hekker
With a new special teams coach, the Los Angeles Rams could look to make a change at punter. That doesn’t even mention that last year was arguably Hekker’s worst year on the team. Last season, Hekker’s 45.6 yards per punt and 40.2 net yards were the worst with the Rams.
While not completely on Hekker, the Rams punting unit gave up 340 total return yards last season. Opposing teams averaged 12.9 yards per return. This is the first time in Hekker’s career that teams have averaged double-digits per return and was the fourth-highest in the NFL.
The Rams could cut Hekker and save $2.6M. The team currently spends the second-most on the punter position and could look to get younger and cheaper.
LB Kenny Young
The Los Angeles Rams acquired Kenny Young in the Marcus Peters trade and while he has become a contributor on defense, he’s not a game-changer by any means. The Rams can cut Kenny Young and save $2.1M and not take any dead money. Again, these aren’t numbers that will get the Rams under the cap, but it helps.
Young had a career high 52 tackles last season and started in six games. The Rams aren’t deep at linebacker, but with a new defensive coordinator they could look to bring in some new depth and new players at the position.
RT Rob Havenstein (Trade)
This would be a risky move for the Rams, but it is something that they will consider. Havenstein is a solid right tackle, but by trading him, it would save the team $5.1M. In return, the team could probably get a fourth or fifth round pick. The team has reportedly made Havenstein available.
Where this gets risky is having to replace Havenstein. While Havenstein isn’t elite, he is solid. He tends to get beat by speed rushers, but outside of that, he holds up well. The Rams could either attempt to rely on a rookie like Dillon Radunz here or Bobby Evans.
Both have their downsides. Radunz would be a rookie being thrown in the fire on day one. Evans meanwhile at least has experience. However, Evans allowed 23 pressures playing right tackle in 2019. All but three of those came in the final four weeks of the season.
DL Michael Brockers
While I wouldn’t rule this out, I also wouldn’t count on it. The Rams can save $9M if they wait to cut Brockers next season. If they cut him this year, it would save them only about half of that. Additionally, they’d be taking on more dead money than they’d be saving. The Rams would still be saving around $4.6M and take on $5M in dead cap.
However, the Rams are in need of creating cap space and this is an option if they need it. Brockers nearly left the team last offseason in free agency. While waiting until next offseason is ideal, the Rams won’t shy away just because there is a penalty.
These are the four bigger names that could get cut before free agency. The Rams aren’t going to cut Andrew Whitworth just because they’ll save $5M. McVay understands how important Whitworth is to the offense. Whitworth will wear a Rams uniform as long as he wants to keep playing.
The Rams could trade Robert Woods and save $11M, however, Woods is a crucial part of the offense. The Rams didn’t trade first round picks for Matthew Stafford just to trade away his receiving weapons.
There could also be some minor cuts like Brian Allen, Nsimba Webster, and other bottom of the roster guys. Most likely those guys will at least make it to camp, however.