In the center of the picture above: Aaron Donald. On his wings, as usual last season: Leonard Floyd and Morgan Fox. Which wing would do the best job of helping Donald fly in the next few years?
And yes, I’ll tell you the same thing I told my instructor on my last day of flight school: I know how many wings are necessary to fly a plane, but I’m trying to build a goddamn football team here!
And I walked out.
Speaking of walking out, the Rams face a significant number of free agent decisions on their defense over the next month. Four of the top six players on LA’s defense in snaps last season are set to hit the market, including restricted free agent Darious Williams. That includes Leonard Floyd, who finished second on the team in sacks with 10.5, but it does not include Fox, who finished 13th in defensive snaps.
But third in sacks.
Floyd and Fox are comparable because of these reasons:
- 2020 Rams defense
- They help rush the passer
- 2021 free agents
- Last names start with “F”
- Born in September
- I’m aware of them
But Floyd and Fox are different for a lot more reasons:
- Floyd is a 6’5, 240 lb linebacker and Fox is a 6’3, 275 lb defensive end
- Floyd turns 29 this year, Fox turns 27 (but both in September)
- Floyd was drafted by the Bears ninth overall, Fox wasn’t drafted
- “Leonard” is defined as “lion strength” and “Morgan” is defined as “a horse of a light thickset breed developed in New England”
- Floyd might get a team to pay him over $10 million per year, Fox might get a team to pay him up to $7 million per year
The market is a lot less predictable than what analysts will tell you it is in February, but in a strange way the market is also somewhat dictated by what people say in February. Perception is reality and for a Rams front office that has not earned the perception of being good with money, the decisions they make on their outgoing free agents and incoming replacements will be paramount towards constructing a Super Bowl roster.
Consider the decisions that the Buccaneers had to make last offseason without even regarding their important draft history:
- Let Jameis Winston go and sign Tom Brady
- Trade for Rob Gronkowski but don’t trade O.J. Howard
- Franchise Tag Shaquil Barrett
- Re-sign Ndamukong Suh
- Don’t re-sign Carl Nassib
- Re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul
- Don’t re-sign Demar Dotson so Tampa can trade up for Tristan Wirfs
Who a team signs is often just as important as who that team doesn’t sign. So today I wanted to pair up two key Rams free agents and put it to the community to ask which would be a more valuable signing to LA this offseason. Taking all things into consideration — age, contract, replacement value, injury history, etc. — would you be happier if the Rams re-signed Morgan Fox or Leonard Floyd?
I have put some basics above but I trust you know your recent history on these two players. Some other incidentals:
- I don’t trust reports on what the 2021 salary cap will be so “Rams have X amount of cap space” remains meaningless to me. I will be waiting until the NFL officially announces the salary cap.
- The important thing to know is that they will not have a lot of it relative to the other 31 teams. Once they restructure Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey and potentially re-work Matthew Stafford’s contract, salary cap will not be an issue. Not as far as being able to retain the players they want to retain and we know that Les Snead is not shy about adding or losing huge stars. As Randy says in Scream, “Everybody’s a suspect.” But also, any of them could probably be retained, even if not all of them.
- It is hard to guess what these players will make on the open market. Last year, there was a lot of attention on Jadeveon Clowney and what he would make and then it just dragged on for months and he didn’t get much. Leonard Floyd is also in a position where teams might like his potential but aren’t ready to buy the full package because they’re afraid right now of looking stupid. It’s a terrible time to look stupid in the NFL. But Floyd might think he’s now deserved his long-term deal and end up standing off for a while.
- That being said, Floyd might get a contract that pays him $13-$14 million for one to three years. Anything up to $15 million might be understandable given similar comps, but many of those were more consistent in their careers and Floyd might not have increased his value as much as suspected if teams are wary of his inconsistency throughout 2020.
- Fox’s ceiling as a free agent to me looks like the “Devon Kennard” or “Denico Autry” or “Stephen Weatherly” type of deals. With that in mind, I’d project him around $5-$7 million for one to three years. He might be most valuable to the Rams, but then again maybe he only began to tap into his potential with how he played in the second half of the season and playoffs. Which was really good.
This is not to sway things in favor of Fox. I have no intention to sway, only to provide reasoning for my financial projections. Floyd played in 90% of the snaps last season for the NFL’s number one defense. Fox played in 39%. Though late in the year, when he was most productive, it was closer to 50%. But Floyd may be harder to replace than Fox and we also can’t say if Fox’s 2020 was a fluke.
Which free agent would you prefer the Rams to retain?
This poll is closed