It looks like the Los Angeles Rams will be in the market for a new number one at both cornerback and wide reciever.
It has been reported that even before the hiring of new Head Coach Sean McVay, the Rams’ front office already had plans of moving on from WR Kenny Britt — coming off of a two-year contract — and CB Trumaine Johnson, who played the season on the team’s franchise tag.
Heard for a while #Rams will let "Fisher guys" (WR Kenny Britt & CB Trumaine Johnson) hit free agency. Curious if McVay/Phillips change that— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 14, 2017
As the source called the players, "Fisher guys" to be exact, it looks like the firing of former HC Jeff Fisher was never the only intention in regards to exterminating the ties to the embattled long time NFL coach.
There has been no word on whether or not this is something that McVay himself is interested in doing.
Britt was easily the most productive and exciting player on the Rams offense. And a lot can be said for his production in a season that saw him catching passes from the worst quarterback play of any team in the league (for at least half of the season). However, Britt made the most of his opportunities as he graded out as the eighth best receiver in the NFL this year at catching difficult, tight coverage, and/or contested passes.
Johnson on the other hand saw his performance drop this season after grading out as a top 20 corner by PFF in 2015, and had never allowed more than two touchdown passes in any given season. This season Johnson saw a career low one interception, and was frequently beat by receivers in what can only be described as a down year.
The free agent market is expected to be relatively dry for top corners. However, the 2016 NFL draft is expected to be heavy at the corner position.
Receiver is expected to be a little different come draft time. The cream of the crop will be about four or five receivers that are likely to go in the first round. It's very possible one can slip to the early second where the Rams pick. Receiver is a realatively loaded position in this years draft, but after those top four of five players the talent drops significantly. There are a lot of players who's ceilings appear to be as a quality number two guys, but not a number one. Now, as usual there will be players to step into the light and shock the world as a steal, but they are harder to come by. The depth of quality two receivers makes this a strong draft — however — it's not on par with the 2011, 2013, or 2014 NFL drafts.
As for free agency, if Britt is allowed to walk, a name to keep an eye out for would be WR DeSean Jackson.
Jackson is entering free agency and it's not expected that he will be brought back as Washington has invested heavily in the receiver position in recent years, and have some young and talented players ready to jump onto the scene.
Bringing in Jackson makes a lot of sense for multiple reasons. The first being he's from LA. It's his hometown, and he'slikely going to sign his last decent contract, and what better place to do that than your own backyard. Another reason would be Sean McVay. Jackson played three seasons with McVay as the OC and had moderate success catching 142 passes for 2702 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also averaged a robust, 19.4 yards per reception (all impressive stats for a three year stretch, especially when considering he missed nine games). And Jackson likes McVay and has a lot of respect for him.
Jackson is one of — if not the absolute — the most feared deep threats in the NFL, and could really help the run game by loosening up the defenders teams are willing to put in the box.
The Rams are expected to have between $40-45 million in cap space, and they don't have a first round pick. It's highly unlikely that if they let both players walk they'll be able to find impactful replacements through just the draft. While it's still extremely early in the offseason — as the Rams are still just trying to fill out their coaching staff — this is certainly a situation to keep an eye on.
The team already has major holes to fill at OT, OG, SS, RB depth, LB and DL depth. Adding too many more gaping holes could be the makings of a long season, for a first year head coach...