With the NFL’s free agency period approaching, many veterans are slowly being released and told they wont be employed by their current teams heading into the 2019 season. The Los Angeles Rams are no different, though they have yet to actually cut/let anybody go like some other franchises.
It’ll be tough to pinpoint exactly what the Rams are expected to do in free agency because they have yet to re-sign or cut anybody, but let’s take a look at some potential free agents who could be targets, either by former connections or by position of need.
Let’s jump into it:
DT Johnathan Hankins
Hankins is currently a 26-year old who’ll be 27 by the time free agency rolls around. Hankins — who was a stellar player early in his career — has now seen two free agency periods in which he didn’t receive the kind of money he was seeking, both from the Indianapolis Colts and most recently the Oakland Raiders. Hankins settled for a 1-year $2m deal from the Raiders this past year. Hankins is a mammoth of a man at 6’2” and 330 lbs (yeah right). Hankins has 27 tackles-for-loss, 12 sacks, and 220 tackles in his six-year career. The Rams are in flux at the DT position with Ndamukong Suh slated to be a free agent, meaning Hankins could be a low-cost addition that specializes as a run-stuffer.
OLB Shaquil Barrett
Shaq Barrett is a 26-year old edge rusher who never got the chance to consistently start games for the Denver Broncos over the past five seasons because of tremendous depth at the pass rusher position. Barrett — who has years of experience with Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips — is a solid all-around player who might not “wow” you, but is as dependent as they come. In four NFL seasons, Barrett has amassed 14 sacks, 25 tackles-for-loss, seven pass deflections, seven forced fumbles, and 35 quarterback hits. His current market value according to Spotrac is $7.4m/year, making him a good cost-efficient option should the Rams choose not re-sign OLB Dante Fowler Jr, or choose to supplement the spot across from him.
OLB Preston Smith
Preston Smith is another mid-tier pass rusher who’s solid but unspectacular, which sort of seems to be the theme for my list. Like Barrett, Smith is only 26-years old and has a logical connection to the Rams’ coaching staff which includes Head Coach Sean McVay, Defensive Line Coach Bill Johnson, and Linebackers Coach Joe Barry. In four seasons, Smith has amassed 24.5 sacks, 29 tackles-for-loss, 13 pass deflections, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and 59 quarterback hits. Smith is a big-bodied edge with long arms who has started all 48 games in the past three seasons for the Washington Redskins. Spotrac currently has his market value at $11.1m/year.
ILB Brandon Marshall
We have our first “true” veteran on the list as Brandon Marshall (no not the receiver) has been notified today that the Denver Broncos are likely to part ways with him. Marshall is a 29-year old who was the leader of the Broncos’ defense playing on a 4-year $32m contract, meaning the Broncos will eat a $4m cap penalty though ultimately save $5m in total by releasing Marshall. Marshall has been a highly productive player for the Broncos, though he’s been injured in both of the past two seasons (still played 16 games in 2017). In his seven-year career, Marshall has totaled 419 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 21 pass deflections, 28 tackles-for-loss, nine quarterback hits, and four forced fumbles. Marshall obviously has a connection with Wade Phillips, essentially playing his best football under Phillips. In this circumstance, since he was released, Marshall wouldn’t affect the compensatory pick formula if the Rams choose to play that game again.
ILB Denzel Perryman
Denzel Perryman is an intriguing case of a great young player who simply cannot remain healthy. In four years in the NFL, Perryman has never played more than 14 games in a season and just recently only played in nine after a serious injury knocked him out for the year. Even then, Perryman has shown a propensity to play at a high level and is still only 25-years old. In four years, Perryman has amassed 233 tackles, four sacks, four pass deflections, 18 tackles-for-loss, six quarterback hits, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. If the Rams choose to take a shot on a powerful and nasty linebacker, Perryman could prove to be a worthy gamble.
CB Jason Verrett
Jason Verrett could prove to be the steal of this free agency class, or could just continue his uncanny ability to not remain healthy. Verrett — who’s proven to be a superstar talent on the field — just hasn’t been on it enough. Out of four years in the league, Verrett has only played in more than four games one year (2015). Injuries — and serious ones at that — are going to be a major hurdle for Verrett to clear, so nobody should depend on him as a starter. If you can afford to sign him as a backup with the potential to remain healthy and ultimately a starter, that could pay off in big dividends. Verrett is only 27-years old and has the versatility and skill-set to play both on the boundary and in nickel. Even though he’s hardly played, he still has five interceptions, 19 pass deflections, and a touchdown on his resume. Not only that, but the Rams’ CB group could look a lot different come next year:
Nobody has talked about CB, but:— Sosa K (@QBsMVP) February 9, 2019
• Aqib Talib 1-year remaining
• Marcus Peters 1-year remaining
• Sam Shields UFA
• Troy Hill RFA
• Dominique Hatfield ERFA
• Kevin Peterson ERFA
FS Earl Thomas
Is there anything to say about the soon-to-be 30-year old superstar free safety that we don’t already know? Earl Thomas is on pace to be one of the best safeties to ever grace an NFL field, so he should absolutely be an option for anyone looking for a safety with unlimited range and an uncanny ability to make game-changing plays. Thomas obviously had a serious injury this season with the Seattle Seahawks which sparked his infamous middle finger to the Seahawks’ sideline (nice) while being carted off picture, so that could be motivation for him to join the Rams given any interest. Not only that, but Thomas’ skill-set has re-invented how NFL defenses play, allowing the Seahawks to play an aggressive cover-1/cover-3 scheme that many teams (including the Rams) try to emulate today. He’s going to cost a lot, but there isn’t a better fit or talent available on the market.
FS Tre Boston
Tre Boston — yes, he’s the guy who blasted two Rams receivers this year when they played the Arizona Cardinals — could be a cheap veteran option if the Rams choose to let FS Lamarcus Joyner walk. Boston is a solid and dependable player on the backend, but for whatever reason had to settle for a 1-year $2.5m contract with the Cardinals last year.
FS Glover Quin
Glover Quin was just released today by the Detroit Lions, making him a free agent immediately available and ready to sign. Quin is a true veteran in every way possible as he’s 33-years old and has started 16 games every year for the past nine seasons for both the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans. Early in his career, Quin was a nickel cornerback though he eventually made the switch to free safety and flourished. In 10 NFL seasons, Quin has amassed over 85 pass deflections and 24 interceptions, not to mention another 10 forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns. If the Rams want to add a stabilizing veteran for a decent price and a short-term deal, Quin could prove to be a fantastic addition for the backend of the defense, something similar to what LT Andrew Whitworth was to the offense.
This could be considered a “Part One” of an article as I’ll likely update it moving forward in the offseason. As we begin to have re-signings, cuts, trades, and more players reaching the free agency pool, we’ll begin to have a clearer picture of what the Rams intend to do.
Who do you guys want to see added?