The Los Angeles Rams lost both Sammy Watkins and Trumaine Johnson before NFL Free Agency officially opens with the beginning of the new year in the NFL.Those moves were expected since the Rams made their major offseason moves by trading for Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters as well as trading away Alec Ogletree and Robert Quinn. Los Angeles also re-signed Nickell Robey-Coleman and signed Sam Shields.
Now, the Rams have more than $30 in cap space per Spotrac. Of course, that doesn’t include long-term deals for Aaron Donald, Marcus Peters and LaMarcus Joyner which could all come soon. Still, that doesn’t mean the Rams can’t add more depth or make another large splash in free agency. Here are some players the Rams should target in the second-wave of NFL Free Agency.
The Big Fish: DT Dontari Poe
Los Angeles’ run defense was the Achilles’ heel of the team all season. That’s probably why they shipped out a few linebackers and they’re refreshing the defense. Imagine a defensive line with Michael Brockers, Dontari Poe and Aaron Donald?
That unit would get push with just them three rushing. It should also protect the linebackers behind them too. Of course, that is also a lot of money to pay a defensive line. However, Poe shouldn’t command too big of a dollar. He shouldn’t get more than the $8 million he got in Atlanta last year.
Either way, Poe is capable of being a true nose tackle in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He’s only 27 too. That makes him a perfect fit in the Rams’ hybrid scheme. Poe is a run stuffer and a good pass rusher. Adding Poe is an easy way for the Rams to strengthen their run defense and double-down on the strength of the defensive line.
The Obvious Choice: WR Jordan Matthews
The Rams know how tough the receiver market is this year. Sammy Watkins got a three-years and $30 million guaranteed with the Chiefs. He could earn as much as $48 million over that contract. That price was too high for the Rams given some of the upcoming deals Los Angeles needs to get down.
However, Los Angeles could compensate that loss by signing Jordan Matthews. Matthews is 25-years-old and watching many players in his class get sizable wage increases. He might have been in consideration but injuries held him to only 10 games last season. He only caught 282 receiving yards and 1 touchdown in what was the worst season of his career. Some of that is attributed to him being traded to the Buffalo Bills and their QB struggles. In the previous three seasons, Matthews had more than 800 receiving yards. He registered 8 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons too.
For the Rams, Matthews gives them a big receiver that they don’t currently have on the roster. He is not the same speed or hands as Watkins but Matthews can move the chains and he is a desirable red zone target. Matthews might take a large one-year deal and gamble on himself to get a long-term deal next season. The deal shouldn’t be too big given his recent inconsistencies.Thus, the Rams make sense given their high-powered offense.
Plus, L.A. did well add former Bills receivers Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins last season. Maybe, they can get lucky picking up a third Bills WR refugee.
The Darkhorse: LB Demario Davis
The Rams needed a linebacker before they traded away their best two in Ogletree and Quin. Now, that need is even bigger. Davis has played both inside and outside backer for the Jets. He finished last season with 5 sacks and 97 tackles in 16 games after returning to the Jets from a brief stint in Cleveland.
At 29-years-old he is a capable run-stuffer, rusher and blitzer too. Davis is an ideal inside linebacker for the Rams as they continue transitioning to a 3-4 defense. Davis is at the age where his big money is behind him. That means he should be an affordable inside linebacker replacement for Ogletree. He’s a firey leader who should fit with the Rams too. If the Rams aren’t already talking to Davis they should be.
Bargain: Edge Trent Murphy
You could argue that everyone on this list is a bargain given their production and the demand during the early part of the season. However, none of them missed all last season with an injury like Trent Murphy. Murphy has already narrowed his teams down to the Patriots and Buccanneers. However, Los Angeles should get in on Murphy before it is too late.
The Rams traded Quinn and Connor Barwin is a free agent. That means they’re in the market for two edge rushers. Murphy has played both defensive end and standup edge rusher. He’s stout versus the run and he had 9 sacks as a key reserve in 2016. He’s still only 27 so if he wants a short-term deal to prove he is the same player then Los Angeles makes sense. The strength of the defensive line means Murphy can concentrate on rushing the passer, finishing the quarterback and earning himself some more long-term money. He shouldn’t be too expensive given he’s mostly been a reserve and he is coming off injuries.
You’ll notice that most of the players here are highly scheme versatile, relatively young and bargains too. I’d expect the Rams to target those players as well as get some deals done for their players that need extensions. Other players worth mentioning include Kamar Aiken, Austin Howard, Marshall Newhouse, Terrelle Pryor, Jordy Nelson, Bennie Logan, Brian Cushing, Tamba Hali, Da’Norris Searcy, Benjamin lJalana, Derek Johsnon, Shane Vereen, Tyvon Branch, Elvis Dumervil, D.J. Fluker, Tony Bergstrom, Marcus Smith, Preston Brown, Zach Brown, Todd Davis, Eric Reid, Matt Slauson, Barkevious Mingo, Kendall Wright, Stephen Paea, Jaron Brown, Cameron Fleming, Michael Floyd, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Brice Butler, Cody Latimer, Louis Murphy, Kony Ealy, C.J. Spiller, Eli Rogers, Russell Bodine, David Bass and Benson Meyowa.
Who will the Rams sign in free agency?
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