The LA Rams are starting over again, this time replacing Fisherball with a head coach who was born after the first Back to the Future was released. Certainly Sean McVay hopes the Rams will go back and party like it’s 1999, which is also a time when Prince could maybe remind McVay that he wasn’t alive when “Raspberry Beret” was released.
Sean McVay is young, is what I’m saying.
Maybe that’s just what LA needs and swift changes could be coming, though one thing they’d definitely like to stay the same is their number one cornerback, especially since they just lost one of those a year ago. Other than that, the Rams don’t have many notable free agents and instead they’ll have to start looking like a contender by getting rid of many of the players who guided them to a 4-12 record last season. They will have to wait one more year before they can do that with Tavon Austin, who is now officially the most grossly overpaid player in the NFL (Brock Osweiler is tough competition but I’ll give it to him that he’s a QB), but there’s changes that can be made other spots with a new head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator.
They’re looking to give Jared Goff a chance, any kind of chance, to look exceptionally better than he did as a rookie. That doesn’t mean they’re getting rid of players because they need money necessarily, but because they need change. Here are some of those potential changes.
Impending Free Agents
Trumaine Johnson, CB*
*Johnson has been given the franchise tag again
The Rams picked Johnson in the third round in 2012 out of Montana, noted by NFL.com as being “one of the best and most polished prospects to come out of the Big Sky in quite some time.” He slowly worked his way up the ladder before recording seven interceptions in 2015, which earned him the franchise tag over teammate corner Janoris Jenkins, who signed a huge contract with the New York Giants — which Janoris lived up to in 2016 with a great season. Now Johnson is looking to avoid the tag and get his own mega-deal. Did he play as well as he needed to on the franchise tag though?
Here’s what Joe McAtee of the SB Nation Rams blog Turf Show Times had to say about Trumaine:
As for his performance, I think it was above the bar overall. Johnson stepped up from CB2 to CB1 for the first year and he didn't have the same level of support across and around him that Janoris Jenkins did while he was the CB1. Nonetheless, he did a fine job against opposition with consistency. The one hesitancy I'd throw toward other teams interested is that former Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams' system used the blitz to tighten the defense. The secondary was heavily risk averse, so Tru doesn't have a ton of experience tracking deep when it matters. Still, he's talented, experienced and (if Janoris Jenkins' first year away from the Rams was any indication) still sitting on untapped potential.
Johnson has the length the Seahawks look for (6’2, 33.25” arms) and he would definitely fit the bill physically, but if LA doesn’t retain him, he’s going to get that CB1 contract somewhere. Not Seattle. They can’t be spending CB1 money on a CB2.
Out of all the Rams free agents, I don’t see any coming to the Seahawks. I only listed Johnson because he’s a big name, and LA needs to come to a long-term agreement with him this time.
There will probably be talk about Kenny Britt, but again, I think that’s allocating too much money to a WR2 when you could have a great one already with Tyler Lockett or Paul Richardson.
Others: S T.J. McDonald, WR Kenny Britt, WR Brian Quick, K Greg Zuerlein, QB Case Keenum, RB Benny Cunningham, RB Chase Reynolds, DT Cam Thomas
Cap Casualty Candidates
Rodger Saffold, G/T
Is Saffold on the chopping block? In all honesty, I just don't know. Should he be? Perhaps. It's less about Saffold and more about the offensive line plan between the coaching staff and front office. Saffold might be the only capable lineman on the roster. He's also about to turn 29 with a lengthy injury history on an expensive contract that runs through the 2018 season. He's probably safe this year only because of the gaps around him on the line depth chart, but if the staff and FO are aggressive at addressing the line this year, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if he's a cap casualty.
The Rams aren’t desperate for cap space so would they cut their best offensive lineman to save $4 million+? If he becomes a free agent, Saffold can play guard or tackle, but I think he lacks the explosiveness the Seahawks look for in a lineman.
Robert Quinn, DE
McAtee told me “Quinn would be a headline given how spectacular he was from 2012-14, but there's reason behind a potential cut there.” That reason being his nine sacks over the last two seasons, the 15 games missed over the time, his $10.75 million salary, and a changing of the guard at defensive coordinator. If released, Quinn’s market would be pretty interesting. Would he command more or less than what Mario Williams got from the Miami Dolphins a year ago? I think he’s probably in that two-year, $17 million deal given the injuries. Maybe a one-year deal to set himself right and hit the market in 2018, still only 27 at that point. I’m sure Seattle wouldn’t deny a meeting with his agent, that’s for sure.
Eugene Sims, DE and William Hayes, DE
“Sims is probably walking a fine line along with William Hayes at DE. New DC Wade Phillips likely is going to need to address personnel for his front seven having historically run a 3-4 while the Rams have been in the 4-3. As Phillips builds out his pass rush, he'll likely start looking for young prospects to build into the role rather than veteran 4-3 DEs.”
Sims and Hayes have their strengths, but I’m not sure the Seahawks need to fill out their defensive line with league-average over-30 players like these two. Joe has more on LA’s potential cap casualties here.
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