The 2017 NFL offseason is about to get very exciting. The NFL Combine starts this week, and with it comes the unofficial beginning of the free agency period. Teams will soon be making some surprising, and some not so surprising, cuts. The frenzy of free agent player signings is right around the corner, and the 2017 NFL Draft will be here before we know it.
The Los Angeles Rams, like many other teams, have their work cut out for them this offseason. It remains to be seen who will be signed, who will be released, and just how the Rams intend on filling their many holes, but Rams’ General Manager Les Snead may have provided us with a little bit of insight as to their plans. This article, from L.A. Times’ Gary Klein has some very interesting info regarding the upcoming Combine, NFL Draft, and Free Agency period. Great work by Klein (who can be followed on Twitter at @LATimesklein).
Here are a few of the interesting notes from Klein - and quotes from Snead - regarding their offseason plans...
Without a first-round pick...“Make the most of the back end of the draft.”
This could mean nothing more than what it says: capitalize on the picks, and make them count. The Rams can’t afford, having no first round selection, to squander later picks on players who can’t, or may never, contribute.
But the Rams, under Snead, have been known to move around a little on draft day, whether it be up or down. It wouldn't surprise me if, picking at the top of each round, the Rams traded down a bit in order to pick up more picks; assuming a guy they really like can still/ideally be had.
The Rams are not expected to re-sign receivers Kenny Britt and Brian Quick.
This isn’t necessarily surprising, and it certainly isn’t set in stone, but it doesn’t sound as if McVay is aiming to keep either of Jeff Fisher’s dune-buggy-crashing wideouts.
So how will they address the position?
The Rams are expected to add a veteran free-agent receiver or two but they also could utilize the draft.
With McVay - and his link to the Redskins’ - has come the buzz that free agent receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon could join him in Los Angeles. The Rams aren’t likely to sign both, and recent rumors have DJAX heading “home” to rejoin the Eagles. Time will tell where he lands but, for now, Garcon seems like the more likely signing.
“Or two”, eh? Other high(er) profile names floating out there are Kenny Stills, Terrelle Pyror, and Victor Cruz.
And if the Rams are truly trying to surround Jared Goff with viable weapons, could they make a serious run at free agency’s top WR, Alshon Jeffery?
The Rams’ offensive line struggled last season but the team is expected to utilize free agency to improve that position group.
Struggled seems an understatement, but you get the drift. The Rams’ most glaring needs are definitely along their offensive line. Greg Robinson’s days at left tackle look to be numbered, Tim Barnes is (or should be) out at center, and it remains to be seen if young players like Rob Havenstein (RT) and Jamon Brown (RG) can bounce back from injury and prove to be reliable blockers.
As for free agency, there are a few capable blindside protectors to be had. Matt Kalil, Russell Okung head that list. And there are a slew of guards to be had, but they won’t come cheap. Kevin Zeitler, Chance Warmack, T.J. Lang, and Larry Warford will all cost a pretty penny, but would be huge upgrades for the Rams, should they be able to sign one.
As for center, free agency doesn’t offer up much (at least at this point), so it’s possible the Rams turn to the draft to fill that position.
They will keep their eye on offensive linemen as well as running backs and tight ends at the combine.
I’m not sure there’s much to see here, but there are a few things to note. The tight end class, according to many, is the strongest it’s been in years. McVay, a former TE’s coach, could look to add a play-maker in the draft. Parting ways with Lance Kendricks - which hasn’t been rumored in any way - would save the Rams $4.25M in 2017.
Running backs? Well, they’ve been deemed the NFL’s new “dime a dozen” group, and drafting them in the mid-to-late rounds has become the norm. Rams’ backup RB Benny Cunningham - who’s also the team’s primary kick returner - is a free agent and may find a new home in 2017.
Linebackers and defensive backs also are priorities as the Rams prepare to implement a hybrid 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
No surprise here, either. The Rams need to add some depth, and size, to a linebacker corps that currently fields Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron.
Klein made this mention immediately following the aforementioned note about looking at TE’s and RB’s at the combine, so it seems as though he’s inferring LB’s and CB’s would be a target in the draft.
There are, however, some very intriguing (albeit expensive) options at CB in free agency. Players like A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore are atop the list of most coveted corners this year, along with Rams’ free agent CB Trumaine Johnson.
As for Tru...
“We like what Trumaine offers and we don’t want him to leave the building”
Those are Snead’s words. As are these...
We’ve got a decision to make whether signing him long term or franchise him for the second year in a row, which we are OK doing.
Certainly sounds like he’s going to be sticking around. Snead and the Rams have until March 1 to figure it out, or Tru hits the free agent market with plenty of suitors.