The Rams unfortunately couldn’t stop the explosive Packers offense on Saturday afternoon as they fell 32-18 in the divisonal round of the playoffs.
With the season officially over, it’s time to look forward to the 2021 offseason, which includes the wealth of notable free agents the Rams will have to navigate in the coming months.
Below you’ll find the top ten expected free agents for the Rams, along with their numbers from this past season and short blurb about what I think will happen to them in 2021.
OLB Leonard Floyd
2020 stats (16 games, 16 starts): 55 total tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, 10.5 sacks, one pass deflection, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries
As a rookie for the Bears in 2016, Floyd recorded a prior career-high seven sacks. In his final three years in Chicago, his sack total only shrunk, ending with just three in 2019. But in his first season out on the west coast, Floyd finally looked like the former first round pick the Bears hoped for by breaking out with 10.5 sacks under up-and-coming defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.
Against the Packers in the divisional round, Floyd struggled to make any impact, just like the rest of the defensive front, as Aaron Rodgers made play after play from within the pocket. He finished with just three total tackles.
The Rams signed Floyd prior to the 2020 season for a one-year deal worth $10 million. After a breakout season, Floyd is not likely to be re-signed due to a price tag that’s expected to be fairly hefty. It’d be best for the Ram to let him sign elsewhere to gain a decent comp pick in 2022.
C Austin Blythe
2020 stats: 69.3 overall grade by Pro Football Focus, one penalty, four sacks allowed
Blythe has played his way from a former seventh-round pick to be one of the most underrated centers in the NFL. He’s played both pivot and guard for the Rams, which bodes well for an offensive line that has seen a lot of movement over the past two years.
As a former Iowa Hawkeye, he brings a blue-collar work ethic and and elite discipline to the unit. One penalty in a 16-game season is rock solid for any player. It’s even more impressive when you’re in the trenches.
On Saturday, the entire interior of the offensive line struggled against defensive tackle Kenny Clark and others in pass protection — they allowed multiple sacks to Clark and Za’Darius Smith — but were much better in the run game as they helped Cam Akers average five yards per carry.
I expect Blythe to be re-signed to a team-friendly deal in 2021 but it remains to be seen if he’ll stay at center or shift to one of the guard positions.
TE Gerald Everett
2020 stats: 41 receptions, 417 receiving yards, one touchdown, two-yard rushing touchdown
Everett finished fifth on the Rams in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns with 41, 417, and one, respectively. As we expected heading into the 2020 season, the Rams utilized two tight ends at a much higher rate than in 2018 and prior with starter Tyler Higbee ending the year fourth in catches (44) and yards (521), as well as second in touchdowns (5).
Against the Packers, Everett finished with zero catches on just a single target. Neither tight end was used all that much as the Rams were forced to start throwing further and further downfield with the Packers starting to pull away in the second half.
I don’t expect Everett to be back in 2021 due to him showing plenty of upside over the past two seasons to be a successful move tight end for another team who wants to utilize him in the same manner as Jonnu Smith of the Titans. He’ll get his money elsewhere and I don’t blame him.
CB Troy Hill
2020 stats (16 games, 16 starts): 77 total tackles, one tackle-for-loss, 10 pass breakups, three interceptions (two touchdowns), one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries (one touchdown)
Hill was spectacular in 2020 for the Rams. With Jalen Ramsey on the field, that naturally funneled targets to him and the other cornerbacks on the team and they did a phenomenal job of making offenses pay. He finished tied for second on the team with three interceptions and scored three of the Rams’ defensive touchdowns on the year.
Against GB, Hill had just a pair of tackle but recorded one of the defense’s four pass breakups on the night.
In 2021, Hill will be an important piece to keep around in order to maintain as much continuity and success in the secondary.
RB Malcolm Brown
2020 stats: 101 carries, 419 rushing yards, five touchdowns, 23 receptions, 162 receiving yards
This year went about as you’d expect for Brown as the veteran of the backfield. With two young backs behind him to begin the year, you knew he would slowly but surely fade into irrelevancy in the offense as Henderson and Akers found their footing in the NFL. Before the regular season ended, he was third on the depth chart with no way of gaining any ground back. He saw nine carries in the wild card round against the Seahawks before seeing just one single target on Saturday in Green Bay.
With two dynamic players ahead of him, I don’t see the Rams re-signing Brown in 2021.
DT Morgan Fox
2020 stats (16 games, two starts): 27 total tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, six sacks, two pass deflections, forced fumble, fumble recovery
One of the most refreshing surprises of the 2020 season. Fox came into the year with 4.5 sacks and six tackles-for-loss over the first three years of his NFL career and managed to top both of those numbers in 2020, alone. By the end of the regular season, Fox recorded six sacks and eight tackles-for-loss, good for third on the team in both categories.
Fox only had a single tackle against Green Bay as he struggled to make an impact with the rest of the defensive front as the Rams finished with zero sacks and 1.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
I think the Rams should make an attempt to bring Fox back in 2021, but I believe his latest campaign may have played his way out of the Rams’ budget, especially when he’d continue to be a rotational piece along the interior.
WR Josh Reynolds
2020 stats: 52 receptions, 618 receiving yards, two touchdowns
Reynolds beat out rookie Van Jefferson to be the Rams’ third option in the passing game, which likely bodes well for his options as a free agent in 2021. He finished third on the team in receptions and receiving yards behind Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, but only managed a pair of scores on the year.
On Saturday afternoon, Reynolds finished with team-high 65 yards receiving on three catches
With size and contested catch ability, Reynolds will likely see his fair share of potential suitors later this year. He has everything you’d want int a traditonal “X” receiver and I expect him to get paid like one by someone else.
CB Darious Williams
2020 stats (16 games, 10 starts): 44 total tackles, one tackle-for-loss, 14 pass breakups, four interceptions
Prior to 2020, Williams had career totals of 15 tackles, two interceptions, and four pass breakups. In this season alone, the former UAB product led the team with four interceptions and broke up 14 passes. Talk about a breakout year, which seemed to be a theme for a number of players on the Rams defense this year.
Williams had one of the Rams’ four pass breakups against the Packers and finished with three total tackles on the night. It wasn’t a pretty outing for the secondary as a whole, but his performance was respectable nonetheless.
The Rams need to do all they can to keep the second together going forward. I’m not sure if they can keep both Hill and Williams, but even just one re-signing would be a big deal.
OLB Samson Ebukam
2020 stats (16 games, 14 starts): 31 total tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks, one pass deflection, forced fumble
In 2019, in just five starts, Ebukam posted a career-high 4.5 sacks with five tackles for loss. This year, as a full-time starter, he posted another 4.5 sacks but saw his TFLs dip down to three and his total tackles fall from 48 to 31.
Ebukam has always been a solid player for the Rams, whether in extended time or in a rotation up front. His first three years (2017-2019) saw progression in all major categories and 2020 was more-or-less the same as ‘19, which still isn’t a bad thing. If the team does not re-sign Floyd, I’d expect Ebukam to return on a team-friendly deal to remain one of the team’s starting edge defenders.
S John Johnson III
2020 stats (16 games, 16 starts): 105 total tackles, two tackles-for-loss, eight pass breakups, one interception
Johnson was the lone defender to go for over 100 tackles, finishing with a team-leading 105 on the back end of the defense. His versatility to play the run and still maintain some consistent defense as a deep defender made Johnson a crucial part of this team’s performance in 2020. His ability to bounce back from a notable injury in 2019 that limited him to just six games also bodes well for his future with the Rams. Like the corners Hill and Williams, it will be important for the Rams to try and retain Johnson in 2021 to help with continuity following the presumed loss of Staley to a head coaching job.
Other 2021 free agents:
- LB Natrez Patrick - three total tackles
- OLB Travin Howard
- C Coleman Shelton
- TE Johnny Mundt - four receptions, 53 receiving yards
- OLB Derek Rivers - one tackle
- QB Blake Bortles
- LS Jake McQuaide