The Rams have been fairly underwhelming in free agency up to this. I mean, they’ve let guys walk for cap reasons, signed some guys to replace those that left, and re-signed one of their most-important pieces on the offensive line. I’m not so sure they’ve come out in the green but they also haven’t fallen too far into the red, either.
Linebacker Cory Littleton was always going to sign somewhere else because a there’s always going to be a team who overpays for athletic defenders. Littleton was stout in coverage but most know he couldn’t play the run nearly as well. He got money close to that of Atlanta’s Deion Jones, another good coverage linebacker who isn’t know for his run-stopping ability. Outside linebacker Dante Fowler also went and got paid by another team, landing with the Falcons while defensive tackle Michael Brockers headed east to sign with the Ravens.
To balance out those losses, the Rams signed former Chicago Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd to fill in for Fowler and then they went and picked up former Detroit Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, who will also be another massive presence along the interior.
Pro Football Focus released an article detailing the “best” and “worst” moves made by each of the 32 NFL teams over the last 10 days. Here is what the chose for Rams:
Best Move: Signing LT Andrew Whitworth to a three-year, $30 million deal with $12.5 million guaranteed
“The fact that Andrew Whitworth is performing as well as he is at this age (now 38) is quite remarkable. He earned an 84.7 pass-block grade in 2019, ranking among the 10 best offensive tackles in the league. Outside of Whitworth, the Rams offensive line was pretty poor. The next highest pass-blocker on the roster sat at just 61.6. They were 29th in bass-block grade as a team — losing Whitworth would have made them arguably the worst line in the NFL.”
Andrew Whitworth's 2-for-1 block was key to the Gurley TD run though Heath was a little out of position on his run fill anyways. pic.twitter.com/WPqn0RjEod— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) January 13, 2019
I think I have to agree with PFF on this one. Whitworth, while being crazy old by NFL-standards, is still an elite left tackle in today’s NFL. He’s also one of the most consistent players at the position and I can’t help but consider him the “Tom Brady” of offensive linemen. I’m not sure if Whitworth makes it through all three years of his new deal, but just getting him back for 2020 allows the Rams that much more time to figure out who their left tackle of the future is going to be.
Worst Move: Signing OLB Leonard Floyd to a one-year, $10 million deal fully guaranteed
“Leonard Floyd never blossomed into the pass-rusher we all thought he’d turn out to be as a top-10 prospect just a few seasons ago. Since he entered the league in 2016, Floyd ranks 67th of 76 qualifying edge defenders in PFF pass-rush grade and owns the fifth-highest percentage of pressures that were either a cleanup or unblocked. As said, the offensive line needs a lot of work, and that money could have gone there as opposed to risking it in Floyd, hoping he just needs a change of scenery.”
The Monsters of the Midway are back.— NFL (@NFL) September 6, 2019
Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd combine on the SACK @FiftyDeuce @Leonard90Flo#GBvsCHI #Bears100
+ : NFL App // Yahoo App // https://t.co/VF2AxoC5r2 pic.twitter.com/AosuaxLglF
While I don’t think any of the decisions made by the Rams this offseason have been that terrible - excluding the re-brand, obviously - the signing of Floyd could be argued as such. The $10 million given to him could have easily been used to fortify the interior of the offensive line. However, the team lost Fowler and then released Clay Matthews. Samsom Ebukam is likely going to step into one of those roles but the team needs a pass-rush threat outside of Aaron Donald. Being able to put a good athlete on either edge will go a long way in the success of this defense. So yes, it may end up being a really bad deal, but it’s got enough upside that fans should be content for the most part.