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Preview of the Rams' Top 5 FA/Veteran Decisions for 2018

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  • Preview of the Rams' Top 5 FA/Veteran Decisions for 2018

    First, let me address the elephant in the room - why address this now (11 games into the 2017 season in the middle of a playoff hunt)?

    My reason is that I think it could be interesting to see how my views on November 28 compare to those I'll hold when the season ends.

    So, here's the list (in no particular order):

    1. Aaron Donald
    The desire to re-sign Donald is a no-brainer, as is his worth (he's going to get a top $ contract). The only question is timing. The Rams control Donald's fate for two more seasons, but he's already shown the willingness to hold out. I have to believe that he returned because the Rams signaled that they'd take care of him this offseason. Just do it. He's a future Hall of Fame player. You just can't let guys like that go. CONCLUSION: Give him a new contract!

    2. Sammy Watkins
    If you look at his numbers, you might not think he's worth re-signing. My advice: don't look at the numbers. He is drawing top CBs every week, and opens things up for other players. I'd really like to see how he does after a full offseason with the Rams. My biggest concern is, if his contract dwarfs Robert Woods' (5 years, $34M), how will that play given Woods' success this year? CONCLUSION: Re-sign him, but don't break the bank.

    3. Trumaine Johnson
    The problem with TruJo is that he's a B+ CB looking for A CB money. That said, B+ CBs (particularly with his size) are difficult to find. I really would like to see the Rams retain him. If they don't, they may need to spend their first pick to replace him. I'd rather use that pick on an impact pass rusher or, perhaps, a young OT to compete with Rob Havenstein/groom to replace Greg Whitworth when he retires. I think TruJo really wants to be a Ram, so I'm hoping it can be worked out. CONCLUSION: Negotiate with TruJo and hope for the best.

    4. Robert Quinn
    Under Quinn's current contract, the Rams can pay another $12M+ to keep him in 2018, or release him at a dead cap hit of less than $1M. Though I think he's been showing signs of life in recent weeks, Quinn is not playing like a $12M+ player. That said, he's only 27, and he's managed to stay healthy this year. Perhaps a comeback year is in his future? In my mind, the obvious/best choice with Quinn is to restructure his contract. If you can get his number down to $7-8M (maybe adding a year to his deal) or less, I'd keep him for 2018. If not, I think he'll be playing elsewhere. CONCLUSION: Restructure contract, if possible.

    5. Tavon Austin
    Those who called for Austin's release last offseason were kidding themselves. That would have resulted in a dead cap hit of $19M+. This offseason, that number goes to $5M. If the Rams keep Austin on his current contract, his salary for 2018 would be $8M, which is WAY too much for a gimmick/decoy/change-of-pace player (particularly when the Rams need $ for Sammy Watkins). I think that the Rams could find a guy in the mid rounds of the draft who could take on that role (I like Southern Miss RB Ito Smith as a prospect). In my mind, something has to be done. I'd rank my preferences as (1) trade Austin, (2) restructure to a salary of $5M or less with an out in 2019, (3) release him and replace him in the draft, (4) keep him on his current contract. I'm guessing it will be #3. CONCLUSION: Try to trade or restructure, otherwise let him go.

    Let me know your thoughts.

    I'll update this when the season ends.


  • #2
    I'm with you for the most part. As far as Watkins goes, we have some young players with potential that could fill that spot. As we saw with Minnesota, we are not deep in cornerback. Trujo may not be a #1 but unless you draft one, they're hard to find. I would rather have Trujo at this point than Watkins. As you said, time will tell.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by fearsome foursome View Post
      I'm with you for the most part. As far as Watkins goes, we have some young players with potential that could fill that spot. As we saw with Minnesota, we are not deep in cornerback. Trujo may not be a #1 but unless you draft one, they're hard to find. I would rather have Trujo at this point than Watkins. As you said, time will tell.
      One point I didn't make above about Watkins... if the Rams don't re-sign him, they would likely get a 3rd round compensatory pick, so the trade would not be a complete loss.

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      • #4
        Agreed.

        On Quinn, Rams will try to restructure, but he'd likely make good money in FA, so I think he'll want to test the market.
        My prognostication? He'll be playing in Miami next year. (William Hayes is 32, and backs up a 35 year old starter at DE). They also run a base 4-3 which Quinn excels at. Given he's 27, I think the Dolphins would love to get him in the fold. I think they'd pay 8-10m range for someone like him, which is much more than the Rams would have on the table.
        Alternative destination: Carolina.

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