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Don’t expect the Rams to use the franchise tag, Les Snead says

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Decision affects Dante Fowler and Cory Littleton as deadline looms

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
Dante Fowler
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The drama is over at the Rams’ headquarters in Thousand Oaks. For now, at least.

As if there was any real intrigue in the first place.

Rams general manager Les Snead told an in-house podcast this week that the team will likely not exercise the franchise tag this year before the March 12 deadline. Thus, chances of keeping key defensive players Cory Littleton and Dante Fowler have lessened.

Again, the decision the Rams are leaning toward making is no surprise and is what was expected by most of us. In fact, if the Rams did opt to use the franchise tag it would be somewhat irresponsible.

They have pending big deals coming for cornerback Jalen Ramsey (who they traded a mint for), receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson (what a weird name says a guy named William Williamson). They’re all potential free agents next year.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams are reported to have $15-19 million in salary cap room when free agency starts on March 18 so they may still cut some players and/or restructure some deals to build more cap room.

A major reason why the Rams have limited cap space, of course, is recent big deals given to core players Aaron Donald, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks.

Snead’s pending decision not to use the franchise tag means Littleton, who is expected to have a big market, and Fowler may be on the move in free agency.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
Cory Littleton
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

But, if you’ve been following the Rams’ cap situation all offseason, you knew this was a real possibility ... Snead’s words just reinforce that reality.

Meanwhile, there is some potentially good free-agency news involving the fifth-most important free agent on the team, in my opinion.

In the same podcast, Snead said the team is making progress with center/guard Austin Blythe, who has been a starter in the past two years.

“We’re in talks with Austin Blythe. We’ve got to get through the free agency and this is the time of year when a lot of things can change, just because there’s no guarantees,” Snead said.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Austin Blythe
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Getting a deal done with Blythe is critical (as is re-signing left tackle Andrew Whitworth) as the Rams try to improve on the offensive line. Perhaps some of the money saved on keeping the franchise tag in Snead’s pocket will help accomplish that.

Share your franchise tag thoughts below ...