So with an eye toward the gates opening up on March 13, NFL.com’s Marc Sessler has tabbed one free agent for every team that would fit as things stand.
Los Angeles Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety
If you’re reading this mezzanine-level thinkpiece from start to finish, you already know I handed Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner to the Bears. That leaves L.A. with a key spot to fill. Clinton-Dix won’t change the world, but he’d give Wade Phillips an experienced backstop to lean on.
As a roster gap with Joyner set to exit, it obviously makes sense. The difficulty here is the limited cap room the Rams are operating with. The Rams are working with less than $25m according to Over the Cap. Spotrac estimates Clinton-Dix’s market value to be just under $10m per year. So bringing in the former Green Bay Packers star would bring us to about $15m in available funds. Setting aside about $6m or so for a draft class would leave us $9m or so which would fund a handful or so of key role players...and that would be your offseason.
There’s no perfect solution here with DL Ndamukong Suh, LG Rodger Saffold III and Joyner set to exit in free agency with such limited resources. The Rams aren’t flush with cash this year, and we’ve sent a second-round pick and a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out via trades. We’re just going to have to live a bit lean this year in rebuilding around the core that the Rams have put together for Head Coach Sean McVay in the years to come.
For what it’s worth as Sessler alludes to, he has three Rams headed out. He has Joyner joining Chicago:
Chicago Bears: Lamarcus Joyner, safety
With safety Adrian Amos and promising slot corner Bryce Callahan set to hit the open market, the Bears have spots to fill in the secondary. Joyner would give Chicago a reliable defender with just one missed tackle over the past two seasons. Overall, he returned to the pack last autumn after a stellar 2017 campaign, but would fill an immediate need for this Super Bowl contender.
Meanwhile, he sends EDGE Dante Fowler, Jr., across the NFC West to the San Francisco 49ers:
San Francisco 49ers: Dante Fowler Jr., edge
Just another team seeking someone to bum rush the quarterback. Fowler was a genuine help to the Rams down the stretch and sits squarely on the radar of coach Kyle Shanahan, who recently told reporters, per NBC Sports: “We’re always interested in adding pass rushers, and he’s a good pass rusher to add.” Fowler plus another edge force with the No. 2 overall pick would transform San Francisco’s defense in a hurry.
Big Saff heads north to the Minnesota Vikings:
Minnesota Vikings: Rodger Saffold, offensive guard
After inking a massive pact with Minnesota last offseason, Kirk Cousins was sold as the final puzzle piece for a club with Super Bowl aspirations. The veteran passer was better than most believe, but Minnesota’s crumbling offensive line caused wire-to-wire chaos as Cousins spent too many games on the run. Saffold turns 31 in June and will definitely be overpaid, but the Vikings cannot sit still.
And Suh heads back to the AFC to the Indianapolis Colts who have roughly $2.6b in available cap (only slightly joking):
Indianapolis Colts: Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle
If the Rams let him walk, Suh could help turn the middle of Indy’s defense into a rough neighborhood. General manager Chris Ballard has built the roster off draft picks and economical free-agent adds, but why not use some of your league-high $108 million cap space on a blue-chip centerpiece? The idea of Suh and Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard operating as teammates is beyond juicy.
The Rams have the bulk of their work to do in re-signing their own key role players, but free agency nonetheless will provide some surprises and may just bring in a new talent for 2019.