Over the last decade, at least, the Rams have only ever made one significant push during March free agency. It happened in 2017, aligning with the hiring of Sean McVay as head coach and the franchise attempting to make a mark in Los Angeles that would speak much louder than, “Hey Angelenos, wanna spend $110 to come see Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin down here in Carson?”
Nothing against them — and the Rams did present an interesting roster in 2017 even without free agent additions — but the two big moves that Les Snead did make that March absolutely helped LA reach the Super Bowl 22 months later.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and wide receiver Robert Woods even remain with the Rams four years later, a rare achievement for any outside veteran free agent signing or trade acquisition.
And yet outside of those two transactions, Snead has steered clear of most headline-worthy free agent transactions in March. We already know that LA will be up against the salary cap this year, even after they re-do deals for Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and Matthew Stafford. But what money they do free up could be used to retain several of their key outgoing free agents, which will once again be McVay and Snead’s top priority.
Here is every notable March free agent signing, plus a couple of key trade acquisitions, since 2012:
- Sign C Scott Wells
- Sign WR Steve Smith
This is also the month in which Snead traded down from pick two and acquired three firsts and a second from Washington.
Smith, the one from USC and the Giants, had 14 catches for 131 yards in 2012, his final NFL season.
- Sign T Jake Long
- Sign TE Jared Cook
Cook’s odd road through the NFL has ended up with him peaking after turning 30.
- Sign QB Shaun Hill
Not a notable signing and yet Hill started eight games for the Rams in 2014.
- Sign LB Akeem Ayers
- Sign DT Nick Fairley
Ayeers had 104 tackles and six sacks in 2012 with the Titans and is a good example of how linebackers can sometimes put up eye-popping tackle and sack numbers without necessarily being starting caliber.
Sort of like Cook, Fairley went to the Saints later in his career and did some of his best work. But it turned out to be only one the one season. Fairley had 6.5 sacks and 22 QB hits as a 28-year-old in 2016 but a heart condition ended his career shortly after signing a $30 million contract in 2017.
- Sign CB Coty Sensabaugh
- Sign DE Quinton Coples
Coples never made it to the Rams and never played again.
- Sign LT Andrew Whitworth
- Sign WR Robert Woods
- Sign CB Kayvon Webster
- Sign OLB Connor Barwin
- Sign RB Lance Dunbar
- Sign QB Aaron Murray
- Sign DT Tyrunn Walker
By far the most active March in Snead’s career, but as it turns out, only two of the signings had a major impact on the franchise.
- Sign CB Sam Shields
- Trade for CB Marcus Peters
- Trade for CB Aqib Talib
- Sign LB Ramik Wilson
Shields is another player here who signed with the Rams just before his career ended. Same for Wilson, who only appeared in one game after 2018.
- Sign S Eric Weddle
- Sign QB Blake Bortles
- Sign LB Clay Matthews
Weddle and Matthews would also qualify as Rams-and-done free agent signings, while Bortles is very close to it.
We know that 2021 will also be different than most years. The Rams have acquired Matthew Stafford, they want to reinvigorate the offense around him, and the Tom Brady-to-the-Bucs thing has hyped up a few franchises in the attempt to build a “super-team.” We know that LA doesn’t have much money to spend however, so will they be able to acquire quality starters on a discount or is it more cases of a one-and-career-is-done?