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Winners and losers from the Rams’ first week of free agency

Which people tied to the Rams had the best and worst weeks?

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The LA Rams traded for Matthew Stafford!

That’s the bulk of Rams’ offseason news so far, but it remains huge news nonetheless. Other things have happened too, of course, including a significant commitment to a linebacker that LA was not expected to pull off but managed to anyway. I think the Rams are setup well to be the best team in the NFC next season, but not everyone came out of the first week of free agency “well off.”

Some did, but others did not.

Winners

  • Matthew Stafford was officially traded from the Lions to the Rams last week, giving himself a greater opportunity to win games in the near future according to both Stafford and the Lions. Stafford asked to be traded to a team that could compete, unlike the Lions, and Detroit happily obliged by sending him to LA for two firsts, a third, and Jared Goff. What’s strange and not-strange to me about the deal is that an organization is so open about their dystopian situation, but the Lions didn’t even attempt to convince Stafford that they’d turn it around by 2022. Instead, they put him on a better roster and with a team that has gone to the playoffs in three of the last four years, so obviously Stafford — by his own admission and by the team that dealt him — is more of a winner right now than he was a few months ago.
  • Leonard Floyd turned a one-year, $10 million deal into a four-year, $64 million deal and he owes at least a little bit of credit to Seattle’s poor pass protection. Agree or disagree with LA’s insistence that Floyd — not John Johnson — was the top priority for the Rams this offseason, both players got paid. But Floyd got paid to stay.
Chicago Bears v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
  • Michael Brockers went from being a cap casualty candidate with the Rams to signing an updated three-year, $24 million contract with the Lions and $11 million fully guaranteed. Though Brockers is in an apparently worse situation in the standings, he at least has a guaranteed $7 million base salary in 2022 thanks to this trade.
  • Darious Williams got the first round tender, earning more than $1 million over what he would have made on the second round tender. A good 2021 season should open up the possibility for Williams to sign a deal similar to that of what William Jackson signed: three years and $40.5 million with Washington.
  • LA’s “fringe” free agents have made cash while plenty of other veterans are still sending out resumes in what has been an exceptionally difficult year for available players. Morgan Fox, Samson Ebukam, Gerald Everett, Malcolm Brown, Josh Reynolds, Jake McQuaide, and Troy Hill are all happily employed millionaires. Derek Rivers was even signed too. Don’t think that’s impressive? Check out the long list of former Chiefs, many of whom have been to the last two Super Bowls, who are still looking for work. That includes Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz, Austin Reiter, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Alex Okafor, Damien Williams, Damien Wilson, and Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Losers

  • Don’t twist my words here, because I’m not saying John Johnson is a “loser” after signing a three-year deal with the Browns, but I sure thought he would have a better offseason than what transpired. Johnson signed a three-year, $33.75 million deal with the Browns with a $12 million signing bonus, but it could easily turn into a two-year, $24 million deal for all intents and purposes. That’s fine — but what’s kept the 25-year-old Johnson from being paid like 27-year-old Justin Simmons, who signed a four-year, $61 million deal with $32.1 million fully guaranteed? Is it their on-field talents alone? Is it that Simmons was a franchise tag player and a one-time Pro Bowler? I think Johnson deserved better. Johnson is owed a $17.1 million cap hit in 2023 and if he gets through that, then he’ll have come out this deal as a true winner.
  • Austin Blythe hasn’t found a team yet. We haven’t even heard rumors of a team being interested.
Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
  • The 2022 salary cap number has taken a significant hit by Les Snead’s necessary unraveling of the issues in 2021. By restructuring several huge contracts, the Rams now have $203.8 million in commitments for 2022 and the salary cap is not expected to be much higher than that, if not failing to reach $200 million at all. LA can find cap savings next year (releasing Andrew Whitworth saves $13 million alone) but it could be right back to restructuring deals and pushing financial issues back again. That can only happen so many times.