Earlier today, the Rams traded WR Chris Givens to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2017 7th round draft selection. The move came as a surprise to some, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Brian Quick's status and the current composition of the roster. In reality, the trade is no more than a classic example of big picture thinking.
The Salary Cap
The trade saves the Rams $1,269,882 in salary cap space. Givens' salary cap hit for 2015 was $1,666,257. The trade leaves the Rams with $396,375 in dead money. The $1.3 million in savings will come in handy next year, as the Rams currently have 16 players set to become Free Agents after this season.
The Return Of Trey Watts
RB Trey Watts will be reinstated to the 53-man roster from the reserve/suspended list after Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams needed to create roster space to accommodate his return.
Brian Quick Now Active
Brian Quick is expected to be active for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. His return left the Rams with a surplus at the WR positions. Clearly Givens was behind Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey on the depth chart. Bradley Marquez has become a valuable member of the special teams units. That left Givens as the odd man out.
The Rams were a bit surprised to find quality WR Nick Toon available as a Free Agent. They signed him to the Practice Squad earlier in the week and he's a good fit in the Rams' offense. His presence allows the Rams a measure of insurance in case of injury to one of the wideouts on the 53-man roster, making Givens all the more expendable.
Something Is Better Than Nothing
Not one fan will be happy about the fact that a former 4th round selection is being traded for a 7th round pick 3 1/2 years later. Such is the nature of the beast. Valuations of players change all the time. Clearly Givens was not in the Rams' plans for 2016 and beyond. They were unlikely to re-sign Givens once he hit Free Agency in March, 2016. Ultimately, it's better to receive a 7th round selection for Givens than nothing at all (which would have occurred had Givens reached Free Agency). Perhaps the Rams could use that pick in conjunction with other picks to trade up in the 2018 NFL Draft (if deemed appropriate).
2016 Free Agents
With the trade of Chris Givens, the Rams now have 16 players on the roster eligible for Free Agency in 2016:
Position Player FA Status QB Case Keenum RFA RB Benny Cunningham RFA RB Chase Reynolds RFA TE Cory Harkey UFA WR Brian Quick UFA C Tim Barnes UFA K Greg Zuerlein UFA DT Nick Fairley UFA DE Eugene Sims UFA DE William Hayes UFA OLB Daren Bates RFA CB Janoris Jenkins UFA CB Trumaine Johnson UFA SS Mark Barron UFA FS Rodney McLeod UFA FS Cody Davis RFA