With the NFL Scouting Combine officially here, the NFL’s true beginning to the offseason is upon us. This next week is going to be the culmination of every representative of every NFL team bunched up in one building, and as we all know, this is where discussions begin. Discussions of player trades, negotiating prices between agents and General Mangers for players to re-sign, and even the illegal tampering period (you didn’t hear it from me) is under full effect.
With all that being said, this is when a lot of NFL players will realize their current clubs will head in a different direction, meaning there will likely be a handful of veterans (if not more) that’ll find their way into the free agent pool.
So, that begs the question, who are the players that could be released by the Los Angeles Rams?
Let’s take a look at some possible options:
ILB Mark Barron
Barron is the most likely candidate to be released as he’s simply paid too high of an amount. Barron is a 29-year old linebacker who transitioned from safety many years ago after the Rams secured him in a trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Barron actually turned out to be a fantastic addition as his physicality, nasty demeanor, and lack of fear proved the transition to be the correct move. The issue becomes his price tag ($9.6m for the 2019 season) and his inability to stay healthy. Barron hasn’t played a full season since 2016 and has seemingly missed a ton of offseason and in-season training the past two years due to nagging injuries. Releasing Barron would save the Rams $6.3m on the cap this year, though they’d also eat a penalty of $3.3m. Barron is currently the sixth highest paid ILB in football, and with the current quality of his play, it doesn’t make financial sense to keep him around at that figure.
C John Sullivan
This transaction will be tougher to gauge because of the potential of Sully retiring. My guess is he does, but if he doesn’t, he could be on the chopping block. Sully has been a godsend for the Rams as his veteran leadership and ability to coordinate the offensive line/make line calls has been a tremendous help for a young QB like Jared Goff. Though he’s been fantastic, it seems as if his play on the field has been in a steady decline as he’s no longer in his prime at 33-years old. Sully’s current cap number is $6.25m, $5.25m of which the Rams could recoup if they decide to move on (penalty of $1m).
DT Michael Brockers
This will be the toughest decision for the Rams to make, simply because Brockers is a fantastic leader, teammate, and a long-time veteran Ram. Typically, Brockers has been a stalwart on the interior defensive line with his fantastic propensity to play the run at a high level, and he even offers a bit of pass rush productivity. Unfortunately for Brock, his play in 2018 was not what we’ve become used to seeing from the 28-year old defensive tackle. Brockers is the 14th-highest paid interior defensive lineman in the league as it stands as his current cap hit is $11m. The Rams would free up $10.25m by releasing him, only eating a $750k penalty. The main issue here is that fellow defensive lineman DT Ndamukong Suh and DE Ethan Westbrooks are upcoming free agents, making the situation along the defensive line murky.
WR Michael Thomas
Mike Thomas’ career with the Rams has been a strange one as he came into the league with some potential but hasn’t had the opportunity to show it, nor has he done himself any favors by being suspended. Thomas’ release frees up $720k on the cap and only costs the Rams $29k in cap penalties.
(All figures used from Over the Cap)