General manager Les Snead has already stated that the Los Angeles Rams likely won’t restructure a lot of contract to create cap space. This is better for the long-term as it doesn’t push the issue down the line. The Rams can eat some money this year in turn for more cap space in the coming seasons. The road to repeat starts now.
The Rams still have work to do as they are $20M over the cap. Some restructures will need to be done, but it shouldn’t be expected that the Rams will open up $100M in cap space.
There have been no outward signs as we near the free-agent period that the Rams will be operating any differently than they usually do at this time of year. What that means is you can anticipate Snead focusing on re-signing the Rams’ unrestricted free agents, waiting for the market to cool, and then looking for some bargains.
The Rams can start talking to outside free agents Monday at noon when the two-day legal tampering window opens. They can officially sign players after 4 p.m. next Wednesday. In anticipation, I broke down potential Ravens’ free agent targets into three tiers:
“Aim high, but don’t get hopes up” are players that shouldn’t be discounted if the player’s market isn’t as robust as initially expected. “Taking a flier” are guys who maybe aren’t at a position of need or could be good buy-low candidates. “Aim high” players are guys that would be a cool pipe dream.
For the sake of the exercise, I’ll leave the Rams’ pending free agents off of this list.
Right Player, Right Price
CB Stephon Gilmore (CAR)
Last summer, Jalen Ramsey recruited Stephon Gilmore to the Rams as the Patriots were trying to trade him. The Los Angeles Rams will likely lose Darious Williams which opens up a cornerback spot opposite Ramsey. These type of player relationships go a long way. Gilmore could command around $10M. Gilmore is coming off of a down year in Carolina and won’t require a long-term contract.
C Ben Jones (TEN)
Ben Jones is 33 years old, but has been a staple at center for the Titans. He was the 10th rated center via Pro Football Focus last season. He’s missed just one start in the last eight seasons. If the Rams lose Brian Allen, they’ll need someone to take over at center. That could be Coleman Shelton, but Jones would give them a veteran presence up front.
DT Sheldon Richardson (MIN)
The Rams could lose Sebastian Joseph-Day which means they’ll be looking for some depth on the defensive line. Greg Gaines showed that he can start as he played at a high-level last season. However, Richardson would give the Rams another body and give them the option of a rotation. He’s an aging player, but still a quality player that can get the job done.
RB JD McKissic (WAS)
The Los Angeles Rams want a running back who can be a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. Darrell Henderson has shown flashes. However, McVay went after Lance Dunbar a few years ago and McKissic is someone else who would make sense. The Rams got thin at running back last season. McKissic would give the offense a change of pace at the position and something they haven’t had since Gurley in terms of receiving.
Aim High, But Don’t Get Hopes Up
LB Bobby Wagner (SEA)
The Seattle Seahawks released Bobby Wagner last week which sent shockwaves around the NFL. All three of the other NFC West teams are reportedly interested in Wagner. Still, the Rams should be considered a long shot. First off, they don’t invest a lot in the linebacker position. There’s a reason they didn’t re-sign Cory Littleton or sign a linebacker last season.
Secondly, they really like Ernest Jones and that can’t be understated. Wagner’s hometown is Los Angeles. The Rams won’t say no, but this is still a fun pipe dream. Wagner also wouldn’t count against the comp pick formula which could entice Snead.
EDGE Haason Reddick (CAR)
If the Rams can’t bring back Von Miller, they will need another edge rusher. Reddick could be out of their price range, but he’s one of the more athletic edge rushers in the NFL and has paired that with solid production. He had 11.5 sacks last season in Carolina and will be looking to go to a better team and cash in.
LB Kyzier White (LAC)
White had a career year in 2021 and fits what the Rams typically look for in linebackers. He’s a converted safety which helps him in coverage, but he can also tackle. He’s also familiar with the Rams’ system as he played with Staley last season. Again, the issue here is that the Rams hate linebackers (just kidding, but also seriously).
Taking a Flier
TE Rob Gronkowski (TB)
Tom Brady is coming back which will make this less likely. Still, the Los Angeles Rams showed interest and called the Patriots about a Gronkowski trade in 2018. The Rams were thin at tight end last season and pairing Gronkowski with Higbee would be a solid combination. Stafford could also be enticing to Gronkowski as he showed what he’s capable of last season.
RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson (CHI)
All of last season Sean McVay heard about how Kyle Shanahan used Deebo Samuel. Well, while there’s no duplicating Samuel, Patterson might be the closest thing to it. Patterson would give the Rams some depth at running back, but also allow McVay to put together some packages and get creative.
EDGE Dante Fowler Jr. (ATL)
The Rams were close to re-signing Dante Fowler in 2018. Instead, he went to Atlanta and two years later was cut. The Aaron Donald effect is in fact real. If the Rams can’t bring back Miller, Fowler could be someone that the Rams look to bring back. He’s familiar with the building and again, doesn’t count against the comp formula.
TE Evan Engram (NYG)
Could the Los Angeles Rams look to bring in another former Giant to add to their offense? Evan Engram had a great rookie season, but has dealt with bad quarterback play and bad offensive play-callers ever since. There’s no doubt that Engram is talented and needs a change of scenery. This could be a one-year deal where Engram looks to get his value back up.
G Connor Williams (DAL)
Connor Williams was the weak link of the Cowboys offensive line last season, but at 25 years old, he’s still an intriguing player. The Rams could lose Austin Corbett which gives them a need at guard. With Corbett being a hot option that might be out of their price range, they could bring in Williams that might give them similar production.
G Rodger Saffold (TEN)
One of the most controversial decisions that the Rams made after 2018 was allowing Rodger Saffold to walk in free agency. They felt the effect of it as well, struggling to find his replacement. The Titans released Saffold last week which opens up a potential reunion. With that said, Saffold was once a top-10 pass block win rate guard but he’s been bottom-five in each of the last two seasons. Saffold wouldn’t cost against the cap formula.
LB Cory Littleton
Littleton is another player that left after 2018. He never found his groove with the Raiders and they cut him as a cap casualty last week. The Rams could get Littleton on a cheap deal and he wouldn’t count against the cap formula. He likely wouldn’t lead the team in tackles like he once did and the Rams play a new system. However, he’s better than Troy Reeder.