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Only 2 Rams make PFF's top 100 free agents list

Only 2 Rams make PFF's top 100 free agents list


Cameron DaSilva
February 7, 2023 5:47 am PT

Free agency really hurt the Los Angeles Rams last off-season, losing several key players ahead of the 2022 season. Von Miller, Darious Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Corbett and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo all left and the Rams struggled to replace them this past season.

Free agency will feel much different this year with a weaker group of players hitting the market. There are still more than 10 starters whose contracts will expire, but none have the track record that many of the Rams’ free agents had last year.

To put this year’s class into perspective, take a look at Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 100 free agents. The Rams only have two representatives compared to seven last year.

Taylor Rapp and A’Shawn Robinson were the only two players to make PFF’s list, coming in at No. 60 and 91, respectively.


61. S Taylor Rapp

Pro Football Focus projects contracts for each free agent in the top 100 and for Rapp, he’s expected to land a pretty sizable deal. PFF projects his next contract as a three-year deal worth $24 million, paying him $15.5 million guaranteed.

Rapp is a polarizing player for Rams fans, coming under a lot of criticism for his play. But PFF’s numbers tell a different story, suggesting he’s a starting-caliber player heading into free agency.
Rapp was solid if unspectacular over his rookie contract after the Los Angeles Rams selected him in the second round in 2019, and he earned career-high grades against the run (82.3) and in coverage (72.9) in 2022. Los Angeles was comfortable lining him up all over, and he’s one of those players who performs OK in various alignments but is not particularly great at any one thing.

One thing that has been consistent: Rapp is a sure tackler, never missing more than 8.7% of potential tackles in a season. His 148 tackles over the past two seasons rank ninth among safeties.

91. DI A'Shawn Robinson

Robinson’s projected contract from PFF is much smaller than Rapp’s: one year, $2.5 million with $1.5 million guaranteed. That’s a deal the Rams could afford to sign Robinson to, keeping him in Los Angeles for one more season.

He only played 35 games for the Rams since 2020, missing half of his first season and seven games this past year. He’s still a stout run defender who deserves to be a starter, but if the Rams are looking for more pass-rushing ability from their defensive line, they could go in a different direction.
Robinson signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020 and then had it reworked into a three-year deal during the pandemic, so he once again hits free agency. Despite entering his eighth NFL season, Robinson will be 28 through the entire 2023 campaign.

Robinson’s 73.6 run-defense
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Aaron Donald isn't a top-5 defender of all time

Aaron Donald isn't a top-5 defender of all time, according to Lawrence Taylor

Cameron DaSilva
February 6, 2023 5:45 am PT

Aaron Donald is already a lock for the Hall of Fame. He could retire tomorrow and make it to Canton as a first-ballot selection in 2028. Not only is he a nine-time Pro Bowler, seven-time first-team All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion, but he’s done something only Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt have accomplished: win Defensive Player of the Year three times.

But if you ask Taylor where Donald ranks among the best defenders of all time, he wouldn’t put the Rams superstar in the top five. Taylor said on the “i am an athlete” podcast that he would “absolutely” put Donald in the conversation as the best defender ever, but he then proceeded to give his top five – sans Donald and with himself as No. 1.

“Reggie White, Deacon Jones. If you’re calling all positions, yeah, I gotta put (Deion Sanders) up there, too. Of course, Deion Sanders. Probably No. 4. I like Ronnie Lott. I think Ronnie Lott is a hell of a player,” Taylor said.

Taylor wasn’t throwing shade at Donald or saying he isn’t one of the best players ever. He just believes there have been five players with stronger resumes than him.
 

Matthew Stafford ranks low on ESPN's QB bargains list

Cameron DaSilva
February 6, 2023 9:22 am PT

Matthew Stafford is tied with Dak Prescott for the eighth-highest salary of any quarterback in the NFL at $40 million. He signed his current contract after the 2021 season, which ended in a Super Bowl win, but the value of that deal has come into question after he missed eight games and finished with just 10 touchdown passes.

ESPN used analytics to break down the biggest bargains at quarterback and which ones delivered the most value in 2022, but Stafford didn’t rank very highly on the list. He was slotted in with the “Established Starters Not On Rookie Deals” group, which is essentially a collection of quarterbacks who have already gotten a second contract and were starters this season.

Among the 15 players in that group, Stafford came in at No. 13. His expected total production was 104.0, partly based on his compensation; players paid more are expected to produce more. However, his total production came in 76.61 points below expected, third-worst among the 15 quarterbacks in his group.

Of course, Stafford missed half the season and was playing behind the worst offensive line in football, so that has to be taken into account. He was in a terrible situation this season, getting very little help from his blockers up front or his receivers on the outside – with the exception of Cooper Kupp.

If Stafford can stay healthy next season, he should be able to return to the form he showed in 2021 when he threw 41 touchdown passes and averaged 287.4 yards per game. Even with a $40 million salary, those sorts of numbers will surely make him a much better value than he was in 2021.

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