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Looking Ahead to the Rams' 2018 Free Agent Class

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  • Looking Ahead to the Rams' 2018 Free Agent Class

    There has been a lot of talk about trying to resign Aaron Donald, but he won't be a FA until 2019. So, while I hope the Rams can find a way to lock him in sooner than later, there are other players who will be UFAs in 2018 and may be players that the Rams will wish to retain.

    Here's my breakdown:

    Sign them up!
    Alec Ogletree
    Jake McQuaid

    Ogletree is a high-quality player who has improved each year. He'll be 26 in September, so he's just entering his prime years. I think he'll fare very well as a 3-4 ILB. He's a guy I hope that the Rams will lock in long before he ever hits the market. McQuaid is an effective and consistent long-snapper who should be extended, unless he seeks $ that is out of line for his position.

    Playing for their next deal.
    Trumaine Johnson
    Lamarcus Joyner
    Connor Barwin
    John Sullivan
    Lance Dunbar

    Johnson will be getting a big contract from someone in 2018. For it to be the Rams, I'd think he'd have to have a Pro Bowl year in 2017 and make himself indispensable. If his play is not markedly better than the Rams' other CBs, I think the team will be happy to use his $ elsewhere. Joyner has a year to prove he's a starting FS. If he does, he'll likely get a new contract. If not, rookie John Johnson is waiting in the wings (as is Cody Davis, also a 2018 UFA). Barwin and Sullivan are both players who are North of 30 and signed for one year. If they show that they have a lot left in the tank, I'd think the Rams would be amenable to giving them 2-3 year deals next offseason. Dunbar also is on a one-year deal and will need to distinguish himself in his 3rd down role to earn a new contract.

    There can be only one!
    Dominique Easley vs. Ethan Westbrooks
    Nickell Robey-Coleman vs. E.J. Gaines

    My sense is that these two pairs are, in some ways, competing for a long term deals. I'd expect Easley to become the starting DE and merit an extension over Westbrooks, but if he really plays well, he could price himself out of the Rams' market. At CB, I think Robey-Coleman may have the edge, as he is a true slot CB, which is the role that will be needed. Of course, if Gaines plays well and TJ leaves, its possible that both he and Robey-Coleman could be retained.

  • #2
    I'll add one more category.

    Playing for their current deal
    Tavon Austin
    Austin signed a monster deal recently but like Fisher before him, failed (multiple times) to perform up to expectations. He has the athletic tools to blossom into a star performer for the team, but then again, so did Greg Robinson. Although Tavon may not be playing for a new contract extension and is not technically a free agent for 2018, given the size of his salary versus the minimal count it will have against next year's cap, he is undoubtedly on the bubble for this new coaching staff and will have to prove he is worthy of his current deal. In this regard, he is essentially on a one year deal. Therefore, he is Koa's pick as this team's 2018 hybrid free agent. He will be given every opportunity to earn (albeit, retroactively) a spot on the Rams roster next year, but can very easily find himself with walking papers as McVay assembles his offensive lineup.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by KoaKoi View Post
      I'll add one more category.

      Playing for their current deal
      Tavon Austin
      Austin signed a monster deal recently but like Fisher before him, failed (multiple times) to perform up to expectations. He has the athletic tools to blossom into a star performer for the team, but then again, so did Greg Robinson. Although Tavon may not be playing for a new contract extension and is not technically a free agent for 2018, given the size of his salary versus the minimal count it will have against next year's cap, he is undoubtedly on the bubble for this new coaching staff and will have to prove he is worthy of his current deal. In this regard, he is essentially on a one year deal. Therefore, he is Koa's pick as this team's 2018 hybrid free agent. He will be given every opportunity to earn (albeit, retroactively) a spot on the Rams roster next year, but can very easily find himself with walking papers as McVay assembles his offensive lineup.
      He doesn't fit on this list. Not just because he's not a 2018 FA...he has a $5M "dead cap" figure in 2018 if he were to be released. As a result, he's likely safe for two years.

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      • AvengerRam
        RFE's Post-Draft Rams Roster Breakdown
        by AvengerRam
        Here is my breakdown of the roster after the draft by position (number of players likely to be on 53 man roster in parenthesis).

        Quarterbacks (2-3)

        Locks: Jared Goff, Sean Mannion
        Likely: Aaron Murray

        I think the QBs who will be on the roster are already signed. The only question is whether the Rams will keep 2 or 3 QBs on the roster.

        Running Back/Fullback (4-6)

        Locks: Todd Gurley, Lance Dunbar
        Likely: Malcolm Brown, Sam Rogers

        Aaron Green is the incumbent with the inside track to a roster spot, but UFA Justin Davis may have a shot as well.

        Wide Receiver (5-6)

        Locks: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds
        Likely: Tavon Austin, Pharoh Cooper

        I considered listing Austin and Cooper as ďlocks,Ē but the fact that the new regime has signed one and drafted two WRs makes me think that perhaps they are not all that high on the incumbents. That said, unless a trade can be worked out for Austin, he'íll definitely be on the roster, and Ií'd be very surprised if Cooper did not ultimately make it (particularly given the fact that he might be our best kickoff returner with Benny Cunningham gone). If there is a sixth spot, Iíd say that Mike Thomas has the best chance, followed by Bradley Marquez and Nelson Spruce.

        Tight End (2-4)

        Locks: Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett
        Likely: Temmarick Hemmingway

        Not a lot of uncertainty here.

        Offensive Line (8-9)

        Locks: Andrew Whitworth, Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan, Rob Havenstein, Greg Robinson
        Likely: n/a

        Robinson is a lock only because of his contract. Iím not certain heíll be a starter. I don'ít have any in the ďlikelyĒ category because I donít see any presumptive favorites among players like Cody Wichmann, Jamon Brown and Andrew Donnal. I also think there is a significant likelihood that the Rams will add a veteran FA or two before the season starts.

        Defensive Line (6-7)

        Locks: Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Dominique Easley
        Likely: Tyrunn Walker, Tanzel Smart, Ethan Westbrooks

        I think the Rams are fairly well set here. There may be some camp battles, but these six should all be there on opening day.

        Linebacker (6-8)

        Locks: Robert Quinn, Connor Barwin, Alec Ogletree
        Likely: Mark Barron, Samson Ekuban, Ejuan Price, Josh Forrest

        I could be 100% wrong, but I still think Barron is a misfit in this defense, and could be a guy the Rams might offer in a trade. Either way, my list is short on ILBs, so the Rams could look to add some veteran depth there.

        Defensive Backs (7-9)

        Locks: Trumaine Johnson, Kayvon Webster, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Mo Alexander, Lamarcus Joyner, John Johnson
        Likely: E.J. Gaines, Cody Davis

        I think the Rams have enough for now. Given that Johnson, Alexander...
        -05-03-2017, 09:49 AM
      • Nick
        Bonsignore: Rams trade quickly changes complexion of their offseason
        by Nick
        Bonsignore: Rams trade quickly changes complexion of their offseason
        By VINCENT BONSIGNORE | vbonsignore@scng.com | Daily News
        PUBLISHED: February 23, 2018 at 4:53 pm | UPDATED: February 23, 2018 at 5:48 pm

        As the sun quietly began rising over Los Angeles Friday morning, the Rams faced the formidable task of figuring out a way to keep intact a defense for which key defensive backs Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner were on the brink of unrestricted free agency, and All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald sat at the doorstep of a huge pay day from a new long-term contract.

        With roughly $50 million to work with under the NFLís hard salary cap and other areas of need on a young, promising roster, retaining Johnson and Joyner while also hooking up Donald was certainly doable.

        Albeit with some creative and clever number crunching, and likely at the expense of releasing or restructuring the contracts of a few veteran players, letting other free agents walk and perhaps leaving some areas of need unaddressed. The dizzying cost of doing business in the NFL can be cruel, tricky and frustrating at times.

        That was early morning Friday. By mid morning everything had changed.

        And for the better after General Manager Les Snead went all commando again with another aggressive move.

        Snead is building quite reputation for stealth maneuvering, and the Rams are much better off for it. Two years ago it was trading up to the top of the draft to grab franchise quarterback Jared Goff. Last year it was the bolt of lightening at the end of training camp when he traded for dynamic wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

        And on Friday, he was in the process of reeling in one of the best lock-down pass defenders in the NFL, in a move that makes as much sense on the field as it does on the payroll.

        In another blockbuster, the Rams acquired Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters, whose 19 interceptions over the past three seasons are the most in the NFL. Peters stands to make just $1.7 million in base salary in 2018, and will be under control for the next two years at a reasonable cost once the Rams pick up his fifth-year option for 2019.

        The trade wonít be official until March 14, the official date the NFL trading period for 2018 begins, but sources have confirmed the deal is agreed to and in place.

        Just like that, the Rams got younger, better and more financially flexible as they approach an offseason for which improving on last yearís surprising 11-5 finish and closing ground on the elite teams in the NFL is the singular priority.

        Boom. What a way to kick off the offseason.

        In one move, the Rams changed the entire complexion of their to-do list. From the draft to free agency to financial flexibility, the dynamics are dramatically altered.

        Peters will cost the Rams a yet-to-be-disclosed package...
        -02-24-2018, 05:11 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Next Few Months Will Be Critical For Rams: Here's A Blueprint For Success
        by r8rh8rmike
        Kartje: Next few months will be critical for Rams; here's a blueprint for success

        March 1, 2016
        Updated 5:45 a.m.
        By RYAN KARTJE / STAFF WRITER


        The 40-yard dash wardrobe malfunctions and hand-size arguments that defined this year’s NFL Scouting Combine have come to a close. The 2016 salary cap is set (at $155 million). Tuesday afternoon, the franchise tag deadline will pass. In just one week, the NFL’s free agency window will open, with the newly minted – and deeply pocketed – Los Angeles Rams poised to be one of the silly season’s most serious players.

        For Southern California’s new NFL franchise, these next few months will go a long way in determining the team’s direction over the next few years. But with a few pragmatic moves, some smart draft selections, and a couple of well-reasoned risks in free agency, the Rams could turn a hectic few months and a whopping $59 million in cap space into a foundation-building offseason.

        Here, in eight steps, is how General Manager Les Snead and the Rams front office can pull it off:

        1. Use the franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson, but don’t overpay for his fellow secondary mate, Janoris Jenkins: Today is the deadline for NFL teams to use their annual franchise tag, and reports from the Combine suggest the Rams will use the tag on one of their top-line corners, locking him up for one year with a salary among the top five at the position. For 2016, it would cost the Rams $13.952 million.

        Both Jenkins and Johnson ranked among the best in the NFL at a premium position in 2015, but Johnson was the more impressive of the pair. For his career, Johnson’s passer rating allowed (67.1) is better than that of Carolina’s Josh Norman (72.1), and last season, Johnson made a ton of plays on the ball, reeling in seven interceptions. At 6-foot-2 and just 26 years old, his size and age are assets, too.

        Snead has repeated his intentions to retain both corners. But after Jenkins reportedly turned down a five-year, $45 million offer at the Combine, took to Twitter to complain about the Rams’ “total disrespect,” and then fired his agent, well ... it appears talks aren’t going well.

        Word is Jenkins wants somewhere around $12 million per year, which would put him in the top six or seven highest-paid at the position. For someone as prone to big plays as Jenkins, that’s a lot of dough. He’s worth the Rams’ efforts to try to re-sign him, but with injured corner E.J. Gaines returning, Johnson in the fold, and an improved LaMarcus Joyner at nickel, it’s not a contract for which the Rams should get caught overpaying.

        2. Add a wide receiver with one of your first three draft picks: As bad as the Rams’ quarterback carousel has been over the past decade, the receiver situation has arguably been worse. The Rams haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Torry Holt in 2007.

        Most agree...
        -03-02-2016, 09:53 AM
      • AvengerRam
        Av's 20 End of the Season Random Thoughts
        by AvengerRam
        1. I'm not going to focus on the specifics of the Atlanta game. The Rams played poorly and lost. Time to look ahead.

        2. Well, before I look ahead, I think we all must exhale and allow ourselves to appreciate what was a very good season after so many years of utter disappointment.

        3. If I was Sean McVay, I'd put the following on the chalk board at the final team meeting... Oakland Raiders: 2015 7-9, 2016 12-4, 2017 6-10. Nothing is guaranteed for 2018. The front office must make the right moves. The coaching staff must continue to develop the team. The players must come back in great shape and with a hungry attitude. The good news is, we have a core now that CAN win.

        4. The position group that has the biggest question marks going into the offseason is CB. Trumaine Johnson and Nickel Robey-Coleman (who I'd like to have back) are question marks for financial reasons. Kayvon Webster is a question mark for health reasons (he may not be 100% until preseason). Even if all three return and are healthy, I'd still like to add another starter-quality guy to the mix.

        5. As I mentioned in another thread, one non-CB I'd strongly consider in the first round is NT Vita Vea of Washington. I think he's a Haloti Ngata/Dontarie Poe type player who could make a big difference in our run defense. Truth is, if you're going to go with smaller faster LBs on the inside (Ogletree, Barron), you need a big guy (Vea is 344 lbs) clogging up the middle.

        6. I was thrilled to read today that Michael Brockers' injury won't require surgery. He is among the Rams' most underrated players.

        7. Pharoh Cooper really emerged this year as a KR/PR. I just hope his horrible end to the season won't hurt his confidence in the long run.

        8. Tavon Austin won't be a Ram next year. That seems pretty clear. I'll wish him well, but he has been a big disappointment.

        9. As we look to the draft, another position I'll be looking at is OLB/edge rusher. Robert Quinn improved as the year went on (finishing with 9 1/2 sacks), and I'd like him back, though I'm hoping to see him restructure his contract to give some cap relief. Connor Barwin is probably worth another 1 year deal, and Samson Ebukam has some decent moments. All that said, if the BPA when the Rams' pick comes around is an edge rusher, I'd strongly consider adding a potential playmaker.

        10. The offensive line played very well this year, but the depth is not great (even if the Rams re-sign John Sullivan). I don't know that the Rams need to be looking at the OL in round 1 of the draft, but I'd be open to it.

        11. The Sammy Watkins decision, in my mind, is all about the money. I believe that, with a healthy season in the Rams' system under his belt, and a full offseason with the Rams, his production could go up significantly. The question is, how much will the Rams' bet on that proposition?...
        -01-08-2018, 09:14 AM
      • Nick
        Day One of the Rams new season has a soap opera feel
        by Nick
        Day One of the Rams new season has a soap opera feel
        By VINCENT BONSIGNORE | vbonsignore@scng.com | Daily News
        PUBLISHED: July 29, 2017 at 10:04 pm | UPDATED: July 29, 2017 at 10:59 pm

        The day should have been all about new head coach Sean McVay officially putting his imprint on the Rams and the progress of second-year quarterback Jared Goff and all those shiny new pieces added through the draft and free agency.

        But when the Rams opened training camp Saturday at UC Irvine, the focus was instead on the very important piece to their puzzle that wasnít there and the lock down cornerback who showed up in mind but perhaps not spirit.

        That would be All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. The former is officially a camp hold out mired in a contract dispute while the later has sized up his own contract situation and decided his Rams future is rapidly coming to an end.

        And in Johnsonís case, he wasnít shy Saturday about saying so out loud.

        It didnít exactly turn the bright blue skies hovering over UC Irvine ugly. But the Rams obviously have two tenuous situations on their hands that need attending and managing. And if they donít do it deftly, they could pay a steep price.

        The absence of Donald wasnít a major jolt, of course. His hold out was established the day before when he didnít report with the rest of the Rams veterans, the result of months of contract talks that havenít yet yielded an acceptable new contract. And while there is strong indication both the club and player are determined to find the common ground necessary to keep Donald in the Rams fold for a very long time, there are enough complicated dynamics and nuances involved in this kind mega NFL contract that the finish line may not come into focus anytime soon.

        Especially with the situation coming to a head a bit earlier than anticipated. Donald still has two years remaining on his rookie contract, but heís played so above and beyond the value of the contract over his first three seasons he earned a bigger payday sooner than anyone originally imagined.

        Still, there doesnít appear any panic that something wonít eventually get done.

        Yet, anyway.

        Johnson, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated and potentially dangerous.

        The two-year contract dance heís done with the Rams hasnít resulted in the long-term marriage he hoped for. And just as he played last year under the franchise tag distinction heíll do so again this year.

        Heís hardly happy with the prospect, making it abundantly clear Saturday he desperately wanted a long-term deal with the Rams.

        ďI wanted it big time,Ē Johnson said.

        The lack of securing one after taking two bites at the apple isnít lost on Johnson, and he can only draw one conclusion as a result.

        The way he sees it, the Rame no longer view...
        -07-30-2017, 08:00 AM
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