Last week, I emerged from a cloud of indecision and finally decided to bite the bullet and reserve a seat at the Los Angeles Rams’ new stadium in Inglewood for 2020. Ever since my purchase, at least once a day I catch myself gazing at my pdf of the simulated view from my future seat as I drool. During one of these hypnotic drool sessions, I got to wondering which current Rams will most likely be there to take the field on opening day in 2020.
Obviously the Rams’ top draft picks over the next two seasons will be there, but which players from this season’s powerhouse will most likely still be around?
Keep in mind, this is not a list based on talent alone. Existing (and reasonable) contracts rank a player higher and more likely to be around long-term. Also, the Rams have displayed a tendency to prioritize protecting QB Jared Goff, and providing him with weapons, over positions in places like the secondary. And will the Rams find cap space to retain talented players like DL Michael Brockers, LG Rodger Saffold or LB Cory Littleton when they hit the open market?
Top 20 Rams most likely to still be on the team when the new stadium opens (2020)
1.) QB Jared Goff
Barring some catastrophe, Goff will spend the majority of career in Inglewood. In 2020, if the Rams haven’t already worked out an extension, the club can exercise Goff’s fifth-year option, which would pay him the average of the Top 10 quarterbacks at that time.
2) DL Aaron Donald
Donald will be right in the thick of his freshly signed extension in 2020, and will still be in his prime. If the Rams ever did part ways with Problem 99, it wouldn’t be until at least 2022, but then again, why would they do that?
3) RB Todd Gurley
Yes, running backs have a shelf life but Gurley is such a key element in the Rams attack. He’s becoming just the type of transcendent star to help make the Stan Canyon what the Forum once was, during the Showtime Lakers era. Of course, things can change quickly in the NFL, but Gurley’s new deal makes it seem very likely he’ll be around until at least 2021 or 2022.
4) WR Cooper Kupp
Still playing out his rookie deal at a modest $1.19m in 2020, Kupp will be a Ram, and Jared Goff will feel happy.
5) WR Brandin Cooks
The Rams have an out in 2021 if they want it, but until then they are married to Cooks, and so far the marriage has been wonderful.
6) P Johnny Hekker
Currently locked in until 2022, Hekker will be probably still be a Ram in the year 2035. Heck, if not for the dead money that some of the bulkier deals would present, he might be at the top of this list.
7) WR Robert Woods
Set to make $7.17m, Woods is a major bargain for the team, especially when looking at other deals that receivers have been getting lately. There wouldn’t be a ton of dead money if Woods and Rams did part ways, but it seems unlikely that will happen any time soon.
8) S John Johnson III
Johnson will be on the final year of his rookie deal, playing for just under a million dollars. The question will be what happens with Johnson in 2021?
9) OL Joseph Noteboom
Noteboom will likely have gained a starting position on the Rams offensive line by 2020, and will still be playing on his rookie deal.
10) RT Rob Havenstein
The team could move on from Big Rob by 2020 should he flounder, but most likely he will represent a fair deal and some continuity for the Rams line.
11) CB Nickell Robey-Coleman
Robey-Coleman will be set to make $4.5m in 2020, and with Aqib Talib, and possibly Sam Shields moving on by then, there will be plenty of motivation to keep NRC in the mix.
12) CB Marcus Peters
Peters likely figures into the Rams long-term plans, but so far his audition has been slowed a by a calf strain.
13) OL Austin Blythe
Blythe has been impressive this season, and will still be under his rookie contract next year. It seems like the Rams would lean toward retaining the young guard, as they also consider their options regarding upcoming free agents Jamon Brown and/or Rodger Saffold.
14) DL John Franklin-Myers
Franklin-Myers has looked solid so far in his rookie season. Still playing under his rookie deal, and with Suh (and possibly Brockers) departing by 2020, JFM will still be a Ram.
15) LG Rodger Saffold III
Saffold has become an elder-statesmen in the locker room, who remembers the lean years. He has also become a heck of a player. If his health continues to hold up, he could earn a nice paycheck after this season as he enters free agency. Saff has indicated that he may be willing to take a slight shave to remain part of what has become a special team. Hopefully common ground can be found to retain Saffold.
16) LS Jake McQuaide
Of course McQuide will be there, Coach Bones wouldn’t have it any other way. The Pro Bowl long snapper is due $975k in 2020.
17) DL Michael Brockers
Brockers is a key element in the Rams defense, and it would be painful to lose his services at any point. When he becomes a free agent in 2020, it seems likely that he’ll receive some healthy offers. Will the Rams be able to clear enough space to keep Brockers next to Donald?
18) S Marqui Christian
If the Rams end up moving on from safety LaMarcus Joyner as they’ve done with other secondary studs like Rodney McLeod, Trumaine Johnson, and Janoris Jenkins in the past; Christian is a piece they’d like to keep. His rookie deal will be up in 2019.
19) EDGE Samson Ebukam
Ebukam is doing a pretty good job so far this year, and is likely stick around for the remainder of his rookie deal, which runs through 2020. However, Ebukam is currently on a pace to complete the season with only four sacks. If that ends up being the case, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to think the Rams may end up going in a completely different direction on the edge.
20) TE Gerald Everett
Still on his rookie deal in 2020, maybe Everett will have become a solid contributor by then. We can always hope right?
*I totally wanted to write the name Andrew Whitworth on this list, but we’ll see how he feels after a couple more seasons. Health!