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MMQB’s Andy Benoit assess 2018 NFL free agency landscape and Los Angeles Rams’ FA candidates

Which of the Rams would be sought after on the market as “difference makers?”

Los Angeles Rams CB Trumaine Johnson (22) and S Lamarcus Joyner (20) converge on Indianapolis Colts WR Kamar Aiken
Los Angeles Rams CB Trumaine Johnson (22) and S Lamarcus Joyner (20) converge on Indianapolis Colts WR Kamar Aiken
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

MMQB’s Andy Benoit has a look at the NFL free agency landscape by position identifying which players he believes would be “difference makers” and which would be just significant options at the position with some potential cap casualties.

Overall, it’s a decently thorough look at the market, though Benoit has, as any analyst has, certainly missed the mark before in his evaluation. Remember when he said the 2015 St. Louis Rams had the best defense in the NFL? Yeah, no...

Here’s how he sees the Rams that he listed (age in parentheses):

WR Sammy Watkins (24) - difference maker

Certainly better than his 593 yards in 2017 suggest, but he’s not a true No. 1 receiver. If he avoids the franchise tag, his open market value will be fascinating to see.

C John Sullivan (32) - significant free agent

His football IQ is off the charts, which was huge for the Rams and young QB Jared Goff last year.

OLB Connor Barwin (31) - significant free agent

At this point he’s the duct tape or WD-40 of football players. As a complementary short-term problem-solving piece, and he’s excellent, both in a 4-3 and a 3-4. But if you need a building block (even a short-term one), look elsewhere.

DL Tyrunn Walker (28) - significant free agent

He only played 15-20 snaps a game off the bench, but always stood out on film.

CB Trumaine Johnson (28) - difference maker

He has traveled with No. 1 receivers at times in recent years and won more battles than he’s lost. That he can travel in man and zone coverage should raise his value.

CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (26) - significant free agent

He’s at his best in attack-mode, including on slot blitzes. Considering this and his adequacy in man coverage, a pressure-based defense should want him.

S Lamarcus Joyner (27) - difference maker

A rangy centerfielder who can cover certain slot receivers in base defense; he’s undersized, but he’s also one of football’s nastiest hitters.

Here’s the full list of Rams set to hit free agency on March 14:

2018 LA Rams Free Agents

Player POS Type Outcome
Player POS Type Outcome
Connor Barwin OLB UFA
Derek Carrier TE UFA Signed with Raiders: 3yr
Cody Davis S UFA Signed with Jaguars: 2yr
Lance Dunbar RB UFA Released
Dominique Easley DT UFA Re-signed with Rams: 1yr
Trumaine Johnson CB UFA Signed with Jets: 3yr
Lamarcus Joyner S UFA Tagged
Cornelius Lucas OT UFA
Jake McQuaide LS UFA Re-signed with Rams: 3yr
Nickell Robey-Coleman CB UFA Re-signed with Rams: 3yr
John Sullivan C UFA Re-signed with Rams: 2yr
Tyrunn Walker DT UFA
Sammy Watkins WR UFA Signed with Chiefs: 3yr
Matt Longacre DE RFA Tendered
Cameron Lynch OLB RFA
Darrell Williams OT RFA
Malcolm Brown RB ERFA Tendered
Sam Ficken K ERFA Tendered
Troy Hill CB ERFA Tendered
Zach Laskey FB ERFA
Garrett Sickels OLB ERFA Re-signed with Rams: TBD