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3 more Rams entering “prove it” year in 2020

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More were thrown into consideration, so let’s consider them

Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd has surgery on fractured hand Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

On Sunday, I posted an article about three LA Rams who could be said to be entering a “prove it” year in 2020. That being that if they succeed, we can all feel more comfortable that they’re going to have continue value and if they fail, not so much.

It’s that simple.

Those three players were right tackle Rob Havenstein, edge rusher Samson Ebukam, and all three kickers. That equals up to three, obviously. In the comments section, some names were brought up that could also warrant consideration. Totally fair, let’s talk about three more of those names.

Leonard Floyd

Even if the Rams are not the team that is responsible for drafting Floyd ninth overall, that weight belonging to the Chicago Bears, they still opted to pay him like he’ a top-20 pass rusher. Kind of odd given that he’s never proven to be that, but there’s a desperation at the position that leads to taking these chances.

There is pressure then for Floyd to prove he was worthy of $10 million for one year, but it also comes with a double edged sword, as swords tend to be: play well and he’s too expensive for LA to re-sign. Play poorly and they won’t even bother trying.

Though Floyd’s cap hit is only $6.6 million, he has two voidable years that spread out his bonus and make it possible for the Rams to put him on the 2020 salary. So for all intents and purposes, they’re paying Floyd $10 million for one year. Only 22 edge rushers are set to make more than $10 million in 2020.

Floyd will make more than Mario Addison, Trent Murphy, Myles Garrett, Jerry Hughes, Cam Jordan, Danielle Hunter, Justin Houston, and so on.

In the last two seasons, no games missed, Floyd has seven sacks. 51 players had at least seven sacks in 2019 alone. But this is the player tabbed to replace the production of Dante Fowler, Jr (11.5 sacks last season) regardless of his past and if the Rams aren’t paying him to do that, then what are they expecting at $10 million?

I spent a long time comparing Floyd and Fowler here, so read that if you want more detail, but the short story is that he could definitely be an upgrade in run defense and a probable downgrade in pass rush, which could make it hard to have the same overall value in the modern game. But not that improbable.

In 2020, Floyd has to prove himself to the rest of the league but as to the Rams, it may not matter either way past next season.

Troy Hill

Somewhat similar to Floyd, it will be hard for Hill to play himself into a lucrative extension with the team. That being said, it may not be that Hill gets a lucrative deal in any case and is able to return to Los Angeles on a modest deal. Or that the team simply moves in another direction and only wants to spend their free agent cornerback money on Jalen Ramsey.

But Hill is certainly intriguing after posting these numbers against in 49% of the defensive snaps: 57 targets towards, 26 catches allowed, 45.6% completions, 5.8 yards per target, two interceptions, two touchdowns allowed.

On the other end of next season though, Hill will already be 29 and he’s never started 10 games in a season before. That’s why many are wondering if there could be some odd late-career surge in his value and 16 games started opposite of Ramsey would prove something in itself.

Austin Blythe

Yet another player entering free agency in 2020. Like Floyd, Blythe just experienced free agency for the first time. Unlike Floyd, his previous team wanted him back.

The Rams signed Blythe to a one-year, $3.9 million contract and they were really only able to do so because he struggled in 2019. Had he continued to develop on a positive trajectory like he had in 2018, Blythe certainly would’ve priced himself out of LA. Instead, he played exceptionally bad at guard and then moved to center following an injury to Brian Allen.

PFF went from liking Blythe in 2018 to hating him in 2019 and I’ll leave grades out of it but that’s not a story most disagree with.

But his experience with the Rams, his versatility, his history of some quality play was enough for the team to bring him back for a year. I can’t imagine him repeating 2019 and getting brought back again though. If he plays really well, then the team might create cap space for him just because of how important offensive line play is and how hard it is to find quality players in that group.