First, let’s look at our own roster of Los Angeles Rams scheduled to hit the market:
2020 LA Rams Free Agents
|Malcolm Brown||RB||UFA||Re-signed, 2-yr $3.25m|
|Tyler Higbee||TE||UFA||Re-signed, 4 yr $31m|
|Troy Hill||CB||UFA||Re-signed, 2-yr $8.25m|
|Dante Fowler, Jr.||EDGE||UFA|
So we’ve got three players likely playing their last season in LT Andrew Whitworth, DL Michael Brockers and CB Aqib Talib. Then there are key starters to make decisions on in RG Austin Blythe, EDGE Dante Fowler, Jr., TE Tyler Higbee, LB Cory Littleton and CB Marcus Peters. The depth might be even harder to parse.
But it’s that last key starter who made Rosenthal’s list coming in at #21:
Peters appeared on track to become one of the game’s highest-paid cornerbacks until a borderline disastrous first season with the Rams, where he wasn’t a fit in Wade Phillips’ defense. Will he bounce back?
I’m backing a bounceback season for Peters, but that would certainly complicate things for the Rams who, since Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff and his Vice President of Football and Business Administration Tony Pastoors assumed negotiating responsibilities, have not valued their defensive backs as much as the market has.
Rosenthal includes Brockers and Fowler as two of 16 impending free agents who just missed the top 25 cut.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the list is the options it provides the Rams to address their roster gaps in 2020 and beyond.
My biggest concern for the Rams in 2019 is the lack of pass rushing talent from the edge. While it’s an expensive role to solve from market veterans, there are some very attractive options in Houston Texans EDGE Jadeveon Clowney and Jacksonville Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue. Both would be very expensive additions, but (a) the Rams have space to accomodate a major edge rushing contract even with a potential extension for QB Jared Goff and (b) if you want proven quality talent at premium positions, you have to pay for it.
Speaking of a Goff deal, it’s worth keeping an eye on all the quarterbacks on this list especially if any deals get done in the next month (looking at you, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott who comes in at #1...). Much has been made recently of Rams RB Todd Gurley’s contract disrupting contract talks for other running backs across the NFL; hopefully, we don’t see anything similar at the quarterback position as we get set to work up a new deal for Goff next offseason.
Much like the edge, a position the Rams could look to free agency for is at left tackle with Whitworth set to retire after this season. While the Rams added some quality depth in the 2019 NFL Draft in Bobby Evans and David Edwards, I wouldn’t assume that either’s addition means the Rams will be out of the market for a proven left tackle in the 2020 market. While Anthony Castonzo, coming in at 23 on the list, would be an obvious attractive option, I might keep an eye on the weather old man in Philly: Philadelphia Eagles LT Jason Peters. Turning 38-years old in January, I wonder if he could be coaxed to saddle up for a career-ending ride in LA just like Whitworth and our two veteran adds from this year in S Eric Weddle and LB Clay Matthews.
A random thought? The Rams’ future at the tight end position. Higbee’s in his contract year while TE Gerald Everett is year behind scheduled to hit free agency in 2021. Someone else on an expiring deal next year? WR Cooper Kupp. Might the Rams look at their future and decide to either draft another tight end or sign one in free agency through 2024? If you’re making the case for one, Los Angeles Chargers TE Hunter Henry is an easy candidate to do so for. He turns 25-years old this December younger than the three aforementioned Rams. If he can prove himself fully healed from an ACL injury last offseason, he could be a very attractive option in a year.
All in all, it’s just a good baseline of what to expect in free agency next offseason.
Which potential free agents interest you the most? What positions would you be eager to address through free agency versus the draft?