The Los Angeles Rams love compensatory picks—they will get the maximum amount again in 2022 once those are announced—so it would behoove general manager Les Snead to avoid signing unrestricted free agents next week as that could offset the potential returns next year depending on the futures of Von Miller, Odell Beckham, Jr., Darious Williams, Joseph Noteboom, and so on.
Essentially, if Miller gets a massive deal from the Broncos that would net the Rams a 2023 third round compensatory pick, but LA then signs a comparable free agent, then that would offset the signing and Snead wouldn’t get the third rounder.
However, the Rams could sign a free agent who was RELEASED by his former team before the end of his original contract and that would not count in the NFL’s compensatory pick formula. Snead is also free to negotiate with these players now and doesn’t have to wait until free agency begins next Tuesday.
Who are three cap casualties that would make sense for the 2022 LA Rams?
Cory Littleton, LB
The former undrafted free agent out of Washington spent four seasons on the Rams, two as a starting inside linebacker. Littleton was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018, then signed a major free agent contract with the LV Raiders in 2020. That netted the Rams a third round comp pick in 2021—which LA turned around and traded to the Detroit Lions in a package to acquire Matthew Stafford.
Two seasons with the Raiders have not gone well for Littleton, as he struggled to adapt to a new defensive scheme and ultimately lost his job as a starter in 2021. Littleton appeared in all 17 games, but only saw the field for 57-percent of Las Vegas’s snaps last season. He had 98 tackles, but may have actually been a more valuable special teamer than a linebacker.
Divine Deablo played most of the last 5 games for the #Raiders, and he outperformed Cory Littleton. Not surprised he was cut. Our future at LB looks bright.. pic.twitter.com/12TNpvAWjm— Sanjit T. (@Sanjit__T) March 11, 2022
The Rams have a need at inside linebacker after deciding to part with Troy Reeder and Littleton is familiar with Sean McVay and most of his would-be teammates if he came back to LA.
Trey Flowers, OLB/DE
You might be under the impression that Flowers is at least as old as Von Miller, but if the Rams fail to re-sign Miller and need a replacement for the 33-year-old edge rusher, then Flowers could be a low-risk option who’s still well off his 30th birthday. The 28-year-old Flowers has played in only seven games in each of the last two years with the Lions, recording 1.5 sacks in 2021.
Everyone knows the NFL is a business, and injuries kept Trey Flowers from living up to the player the Detroit Lions hoped he would be. Despite that, it can't be said enough about the work that Flowers did in the community immediately after signing with Detroit. pic.twitter.com/z0PaktmkP1— Kory Woods (@KoryEWoods) March 10, 2022
The 6’2, 265 lbs edge defender recorded seven sacks and 21 QB hits after signing a huge deal with Detroit in 2019, but injuries and playing on a terrible team seems to have set him back from his New England Patriots days. Flowers won two Super Bowls as a member of the Patriots and he’d be joining the reigning champions if he signed with the Rams as a new complement to Aaron Donald.
Flowers may help more with run defense than applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but given his probable low cost (veteran minimum?) it is a risk worth taking.
Rodger Saffold, G
Three years after leaving the Rams for the Tennessee Titans, is it time for the veteran guard—now entering his 13th NFL season—to return home? There’s already been a ton of speculation to that point.
For good reason.
The Rams are set to have a hole at right guard if they don’t re-sign Austin Corbett, and letting him leave to potentially net a sixth round compensatory pick and then maybe even upgrading the position by signing Saffold, could be a major coup for Snead.
Saffold suffered through many bad seasons with the Rams, then helped LA reach the Super Bowl in 2018. He could return and help Stafford, McVay, Donald repeat in 2022/2023. Coming off of a Pro Bowl appearance last season, how much will Saffold command on the market and is it something that the Rams can afford right now?
There’s also been speculation about Bobby Wagner and while that makes sense too, Saffold should come much cheaper.
Which of these three—or someone else—would you like to see the Rams sign? Tell us in the comments!