Franchise Tag effects
Moving into the March 10 opening of free agency, the first impact will be on the offensive line where the Rams could well be active. With Joe Barksdale coming untethered from his contract, the Rams are looking at openings at center, right guard and right tackle. If the Rams attempt to bring him back, and are successful in doing so, they at least can scratch one of those starting gigs off. Otherwise, free agency will loom large for the Rams in the front five. With no franchise tags being applied to offensive linemen, that at least allows them the full complement of options including 49ers guard Mike Iupati, Chiefs center Rodney Hudson, Oakland center Stefen Wisniewski and others.
The larger issue, as is always the case with free agency, is setting market terms. With Ndamukong Suh, you're going to re-set the high mark for DTs in their prime. Back in early September, J.J. Watt's eight-year, $100m+ deal was the new new. If Suh surpasses that, Rams fan might wanna take notice...Aaron Donald is under contract through 2017 with a club option for his fifth year in 2018.
Andre Johnson moving on from Houston
The Houston Texas informed Andre Johnson that he would be taking a reduced role with them moving forward. He responded by asking to be traded or released outright. Why would Houston make such a bold move? Johnson will be 34 in July and certainly looked like age was catching up with him during the 2014 season. Still...he's top 10 all-time in receptions and 12th in yards. You don't get that kind of resume on the market very often. Will the Rams be interested? Perhaps. If so though, I'd guess they'd be more interested in him than he is in them. Johnson's window to get to a Super Bowl is small. The Rams haven't had a winning record in a decade. Some things just don't line up well.
Released player update
Since we last looked at cuts around the league on Friday, we've seen a couple familiar names on the wires. CB Cortland Finnegan was released by the Dolphins, and today the Eagles parted with CB Cary Williams. Both are over 30 and looking at just trying to make it through camp for a 53-man. NFL depth will always be a thing.
And keep an eye on Tampa Bay OT Anthony Collins. A year ago, the Bucs were seemingly a winner in free agency by locking down the position with a five-year, $30m deal. Now, he's either going to be traded or cut. This is your daily/weekly/permanently self-refreshing that the draft WILL ALWAYS trump free agency and that every FA move should be taken with a grain of salt. (If you're a Rams fan and you think it's as easy as just signing a guy, you must have been in a coma the last five years. I will not ruin your return to consciousness by filling you in on what you missed.)
Visits taking place
With the released players now free to seek new employers ahead of March 10=FA Opening Day, reports are already filtering down of some meetings. Now ex-Ram DT Kendall Langford stopped by Detroit. And Darnell Dockett, recently walked off by Arizona, stayed in division by meeting with the 49ers.