The 2018 NFL season hasn’t even started yet and the Los Angeles Rams continue to keep us on our toes. First was the Marcus Peters trade, then Robert Quinn was shipped to the Miami Dolphins, and now they’ve traded yet another starting linebacker today as they sent Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants.
Credit Les Snead and Sean McVay for not being complacent after an 11 win season, but holy smokes. They’re being extremely active in getting rid of players that are overpaid, under-performing, and that no longer fit scheme and/or the long term plans of the team.
It’s hard to argue with any of the moves individually, but the Rams have now traded half of their starting linebackers in addition to Connor Barwin being an unrestricted free agent. Mark Barron’s status isn’t exactly solidified either as he has often been listed in the ‘potential cap casualty’ category as the offseason approached. Given the moves the Rams have made thus far, it’s hard to see them cutting ties with their lone returning starting linebacker.
The Rams played a playoff game two months ago with Barwin, Ogletree, Barron, and Quinn as their starting LBs. Three of those four are no longer under contract with the team - and the Rams weren’t particularly deep at LB prior to these moves.
For perspective, here is a comprehensive list of linebackers currently under contract for the Rams:
As it currently stands, the Rams starting LB corps would likely be Barron and Hager in the middle flanked by Ebukam and Thompson. To call that underwhelming would be a very, very big understatement.
Luckily for the Rams, that’s not where the story ends. Matt Longacre is a restricted free agent, and I personally believe that the Rams will bring him back. He played well enough in limited snaps last season to likely earn a shot as a starter as long as he is fully recovered from a back injury that ended his 2017 campaign.
As far as free agency goes, the Rams have some options. Avery Williamson and Demario Davis are options in the middle, but options at OLB are scarce. But if we’ve learned one thing in the past few weeks, it’s to never sleep on Les Snead and Sean McVay. You never know what they’re going to pull out of their hat.