Pre Free Agency
Welcome L.A. Rams fans to the first part of a two-part article which will attempt to look deeper at our free agency situation. In this article we’ll look at; pre-free agency, the facts and likelihoods all wrapped up with my two cents on it all. In the second article, we’ll take a look at; the moves and grooves and see exactly what went down in groove town? (So without further ado, let’s look at our free agents 2020
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
- OLB Dante Fowler Jr.
- LT Andrew Whitworth
- DT Michael Brockers
- ILB Cory Littleton
- K Greg Zuerlein
- QB Blake Bortles
- ILB Bryce Hager
- S Marqui Christian
- WR Mike Thomas
- G Austin Blythe
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman has a team option that can be picked up before the 2020 league year begins. If the option is not picked up, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
- WR JoJo Natson
- DE Morgan Fox
- DB Dont’e Deayon
There they all are folks, and if I’m honest, as most of you know, it’s looking like a daunting task to re-sign all the guys we would like to see back with our limited cap space. (Please see our previous article on our cap space 2020) Anyhoo let’s have a closer look at the main guys I think most of us would like to see return. I’ve done this in order of importance in “my humble opinion” so please be kind.
Andrew Whitworth LT. Hopefully re-signed.
Now, I can see some of you looking at me funny, but I’m telling you right now re-signing Big Whit is the most important signing the Rams will make this offseason! Yes I know he’s nearing the end and this could well be his last season, also the number of penalties were up on him last season, but this guy only gave up one sack all season from the QB’s blind side with all the inexperience that was playing next to him all season long. This guy is still far and above anyone else we have on the roster to replace him at LT. Now, we know Joseph Noteboom was drafted to be his replacement, but with him coming off a bad injury last season, maybe another season on the interior of the line would be a better option for him. Plus from what I’m reading, Whitworth is saying he wants to play again next season and given where he’s at in his career, we hopefully can get him back on a cap-friendly deal. Also, if you look right across our offensive line there is nothing but very young guys. Whitworth returning would not only settle some of Goff’s nerves but also in stow very valuable experience on what is going to be the future of our offence line for many years to come. Fingers crossed guys.
Dante Fowler Jr. OLB/END. Hopefully re-signed.
Yes again, I can hear folks saying “no no Cory Littleton ” folks, there’s just nothing in it between Flower and Littleton here. Both are very good players who suit the 3-4 system, and after seeing a recent interview with our new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, he has confirmed the Rams will be sticking to the 3-4 on defense. Of course, it’s going to be very difficult to re-sign both Flower and Littleton after Whitworth with our cap situation, but if you’re asking me which one i think the Rams might just lean towards, I think its Flower, Fowler being the pass rusher of the two Linebackers might just edge him in front. Fowler, going back to when he was drafted was a 4-3 end and played this with the Jaguars. The fact that he made the transition to LB so well is a credit to his flexibility (and puts his price up!) Fowler also played his cards well last year signing a one year 12 million deal with the intent of showing the Rams what he could do, and he did just that with a career-best season which had 11 and a half sacks. Now, obviously signing Fowler won’t be easy with our limited cap, but if the funds can be made available for one of the remaining top two of our free agents, then im 51% Fowler 49% Littleton ( I know I know folks, like me you want both too!)
Cory Littleton. ILB. I think he’ll hit the market.
I’m a big fan of this guy and remember watching him blocking kicks on special teams back before he was starting at LB. Littleton has just gone from strength to strength the last few seasons, but even the most optimistic Rams fan would agree that the chances of signing our top three FA is probably not going to be possible because of our financial restrictions. And for reasons above, I think it’s Littleton who is the most likely of the big three to hit the market. Littleton had another top season last year and led the team with 134 tackles. He also had 3 and a half sacks and two forced fumbles. Also another thing that could seal him moving on is that the draft is apparently deep at Linebacker, savvy teams could find starting linebackers deeper in this draft im reading! Still Littleton would be a big loss but one we might just have to swallow.
Austin Blythe. G/C. It’s a big maybe? But will be made an offer.
Blythe regressed last season from the guy who took over two seasons ago from Jamon Brown at right guard as Brown served his suspension. Blythe never gave that right guard spot up, again and Brown was let go a little later. Blythe struggles last season were helped when he slid over to centre after Brian Allan went down injured and Blythe’s play improved. Centre is a position he is more familiar with and it’s this versatility and the fact that he’s one of our more experienced players on which is a very young offensive line group, that I think will at least bring an offer from the Rams. Will it be enough to hang onto him? Time will tell.
Greg Zuerlein. K. Hopefully re-signed.
Kicker isn’t always the most prioritized position on a team, but I’m sure you’ve seen some of the heartbreaking losses teams have taken because of missed field goals. Ye Zuerlein didn’t have his best season last year, but I don’t think he was healthy for most of the season. Don’t forget though Zuerlein was one of the best kickers in the league in 2017 and 2018. He was also named first-team all-pro in 2017, making 38-40 field goals. For me, this gets done! From what I’m reading there’s not a great deal of good kickers in FA this year and I just don’t see us drafting a guy unless it’s really later on in the draft.
Michael Brockers. DT. I think he’ll hit the market.
After eight solid seasons for the Rams on the defensive line, I think Brockers could be one of our cap casualties. I’ve been a fan of Brockers since we took him with the 14th pick in the 2014 draft (Les Snead’s very first pick for the Rams) Also, I think it’s worth pointing out that in the last three years Brocker has only got better with a career-best last season of 63 tackles and three sacks. But with options on the roster behind him, I think he may have played his last game for the Rams. Some good news for Brockers who is 29, is that he takes those good numbers from last season into the market with him and it was also announced from Sean McVay that Brockers would not require surgery on the left ankle injury he sustained in the final game of last season. (You’re a class act Mr Brockers)
Nickell Robey-Coleman.CB. No brainer! He stays!
As I said above, we have a team option for next year, which I’m confident we’ll pick up. Coleman would be a 4.5 million hit on the cap and continues to be one of the best slot CB’ in the league.
Blake Bortles. QB. I think he’ll want to test the market.
The facts here are that the Rams need a backup QB with some experience as we only have John Wolford under contract behind Goff and Wolford has no NFL experience! Bortles will, of course, want to compete for a starting role and with the Rams that’s unlikely to happen with Goff in place. I think an offer will be discussed, but Bortles will ultimately move on I think.
Bryce Hager ILB. Tests the market and moves on.
Hager has mostly been a special team’s player for the Rams over the last five seasons. With injuries last year, he did make four starts but was also lost for the season due to injury. I just feel with the limited time Hager has had to play there just might not have been enough from him to warrant another contract, I just see the Rams moving on here.
Marqui Christian.S. Hopefully re-signed.
The Rams picked up Christian four years ago after he was dropped by the Cardinals; He was a 5th round draft pick but never played a down with them. Since then his role has just grown and grown, although last season was a bit of an up and down season for him. The Rams don’t need a starting safety but Christian does provide depth with experience, hence I hope some kind of cap-friendly deal can be done here.
Mike Thomas. WR. Will be made an offer.
With WR being an area of strength for the team this one is obviously not a need and as much as Thomas has played well and contributed on special teams, it will ultimately come down to can something very cap friendly be done and with that being the case, he might just want to test the market. I think this is a maybe here.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
WR JoJo Natson
With JoJo handling return duties I hope to see him back.
DE Morgan Fox
With Brockers probably moving on, Fox does provide depth on the defensive line.
DB Dont’e Deayon
They may want to hang on to a familiar face here for depth.
EXCLUSIVE-RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
RB John Kelly – LB Josh Carraway – TE Johnny Mundt – C Coleman Shelton -S Jake Gervase. Are all depth players and offers will be pending on any playing performances and need at the position.
Well folks, that’s my thoughts on where we stand as we look to get the first part (and most important part in my opinion) of free agency underway. Re-signing some of our key free agents is paramount if we’re to get this offseason off to a good start. That’s my two cents on it folks. Do you agree? Or do you have a different opinion! I’d like to hear some of your thoughts, so please comment on our twitter, Instagram or Facebook page and let the discussion flow….. Rob Doc, out.