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So today’s camp preview looked at the Rams’ continued ability to land star veterans at the tail ends of their careers. This year, it’s LB Clay Matthews and S Eric Weddle.
So who will have the bigger impact in 2019?
LB Clay Matthews
Matthews might have a leg up based on the condition of the position unit he’s joining.
Whereas the Rams have one of the best safety depth charts in the league with Weddle joining S John Johnson III and taking S Taylor Rapp in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Rams’ linebacking unit is not nearly as strong.
Whether Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips prefers Matthews to play inside or out, there’s not a ton to keep him off the field. Inside, the Rams no longer have Mark Barron as the primary run defender. Cory Littleton is a special athlete, but his run defense is lagging. Micah Kiser is likely to join Littleton in some situations, but Phillips’ situational preference will rule the day similar to the position rotation along the defensive line. If Grandpa Wade wants Clay on the outside, the starting duo that closed out last year in Samson Ebukam and Dante Fowler, Jr., doesn’t serve as some immutable solid.
So while Matthews had his worst season of his career in 2018, he should have a better, wider opportunity with the Rams if only because of his position.
S Eric Weddle
While the Packers were content to let Matthews hit free agency after a fantastic nine-year run, the Ravens cut Weddle outright heading into free agency. Our friends over at Baltimore Beatdown, the SB Nation community for fans of the Ravens, saw the potential for Weddle’s release back in January:
Weddle is a savvy veteran. However, he is no longer a dominant safety worth $8.25 million. The team saves nearly 80% of his cap number by parting ways, which is hard to argue against. The Ravens can use these savings to sign players on other areas of defense or add a younger free safety to pair with Tony Jefferson, Chuck Clark or DeShon Elliott.
There’s an interesting balance there between having a veteran’s savvy but lacking the physical skills he possessed at his peak. Does the former earn him enough playing time to outshine Matthews? Does his football intellect and anticipation make up for the declining physical tools?
Last year, the Rams signed DL Ndamukong Suh to a one-year deal. Throughout the regular season, it looked like the deal didn’t come to fruition much as Suh contributed to an extremely poor run defense and a pass rush that didn’t consistently offer much in support of DL Aaron Donald who was a one-man wrecking crew. But in the postseason, Suh emerged as a force. His 2019 postseason performance on its own validating the signing.
So Matthews and Weddle don’t need to come out in Week 1 and show out. It’s a long season, and the Rams are beyond the threshold of quality where things can be measured by the regular season alone. This is a team that is expected by a wide majority to make the 2020 playoffs, so the pair are in for a long haul.
But who among the two will contribute more over that long haul?
Who will have more of an impact in 2019 for the Rams?
This poll is closed
LB Clay Matthews
S Eric Weddle