So nearly 24 hours into the official 2017 NFL Free Agency period, and the NFL landscape looks totally different. They certainly do for the Los Angeles Rams.
Here’s my personal feelings on all the activity summed up by permanent Dear Leader Jeff Fisher.
Rams sign OT Andrew Whitworth, WR Robert Woods
Signing Whitworth accomplished two things. First, it added a solid veteran to the line and to the locker room where Whitworth’s professionalism and dedication is reportedly unquestioned. And second, it displaced Greg Robinson as the starting left tackle. Both of those are positives in my book.
The Woods signing I think was a bit misunderstood by some yesterday. Sure, a five-year deal at just south of $8m per seems exorbitant based on his production in Buffalo. But I’d point at the fact that Woods has played the WR2 role in his career, first behind Stevie Johnson and then behind Sammy Watkins. So it’s not as if he was the top target for months at a time from a macro level; on the micro side, he wasn’t necessarily used in a way to pad his stats. If you’ve got Watkins or even a speedster like Marquise Goodwin stretching defenses vertically, you’re going to run Woods underneath. So while his numbers might not match up with his contract totals, I’m comfortable adding his proven skills to the offense as a legit WR2 that we lacked in Brian Quick to help WR? Tavon Austin and a WR1 that we still need to draft this year or next. Toss in that his contract is likely front-loaded making it easier to walk away in 2019 if Woods hasn’t integrated well into the offense being designed by new Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and new Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur, and I’m really comfortable with both of these moves.
Are they long-term, top-of-the-depth chart solutions? No, but that’s not what free agency is for. It’s what the draft is for. And if former Head Coach Jeff Fisher in concert with then-and-still General Manager Les Snead had drafted an appropriate left tackle or an acceptable pair of wide receivers atop the depth chart, we wouldn’t have needed either of these signings.
Rams sign QB Aaron Murray
I don’t know what this is. I also don’t know if it’s going to matter whatsoever.
Rams release C Tim Barnes, TE Lance Kendricks, DE Eugene Sims
The Barnes news came first from his agent. The latter two came late last night.
I struggle to see something to quibble with here. The Rams need to draft a center at some point, something they’ve done twice in the last decade: a fourth-round selection in Barrett Jones in the 2013 NFL Draft and a final round grasp for Demetrius Rhaney a year later. That Jones lost the three-way battle of those two and Tim Barnes isn’t a condemnation of drafting but development. Rhaney’s not starting caliber. Kendricks’ time had come to an end. And Sims just wasn’t worth the money as a reserve end on the north side of 30-years of age.
Rams trade William Hayes to Miami Dolphins
It was the right move, but it feels wrong. Hayes was fun. Anybody who talks about being traded for a stapler and a coffee machine is a guy I want on my team.
We’ll miss you, Brah Brah Bojangles.
I know this will upset the #toonegative crowd, but I’ve just got no gripes to this point since the Trumaine Johnson shitshow. Maybe we find a buyer and solve that, but it looks like Snead put himself in a corner out of desperation and a lack of foresight. Since the tag and trade effort though, the last 24 hours have all been rational, functional moves not made out of desperation.
Now look, the draft is coming up. The 2017 season is likely a throwaway needed to install the new schemes on both sides of the ball and figure out which holdovers from Fisherball can perform — Tavon Austin, Tyler Higbee, Jared Goff all chief among them on offense with Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree and perhaps Trumaine Johnson the big question marks on the D. So the Rams aint winning any trophies yet.
But I remain cautiously optimistic about the 2018 season. These moves haven’t changed that at all and if they’ve had any impact, they’ve only solidified that optimism.
What’s your take on the Woods and Whitworth signings? What about the early cuts? What do you want to see in the rest of free agency? What’s the big picture that the remainder of free agency needs to contribute to?