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Will Von Miller exit impact Aaron Donald, OBJ decisions?

The Rams desperately wanted to keep Miller, can they keep two other stars instead?

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams got less than one season of games from Von Miller, but he made valuable plays in the postseason and helped the franchise win its first Super Bowl since 1999. Will that be worth the exchange of a second and third round pick for Miller and a compensatory selection?

It’s a question that the Rams must also be asking themselves about free agent Odell Beckham Jr., potentially another important piece in Aaron Donald’s decision to either return and “run it back” or retire for the 2022 season.

Miller signed a six-year, $120 million contract with the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, returning to the AFC in an attempt to help Josh Allen defeat the Denver Broncos and every other team over there to reach the Super Bowl next season. The Rams were reportedly very hopeful to keep Miller, so how will this impact how they will intend to spend the cash that would have gone to Miller, and what does it say about their need for edge rushing help?

Will the Rams now get involved in negotiations with other outside linebackers, like Anthony Barr or Melvin Ingram? Will Les Snead look for a trade partner... again?

Los Angeles might now turn its attention to OBJ, but how much should they pay a 30-year-old receiver coming off of more recent ACL surgery than the 30-year-old receiver already under contract? It may be a long way before OBJ signs anyway.

The wide receiver free agent market is not really a part of the “first wave” anymore. Though Christian Kirk signed for an absurd amount of money right away, Allen Robinson remains unsigned and JuJu Smith-Schuster says his phone hasn’t even rang yet.

There have been a few changes to how the NFL does business that I think most of us could have seen coming from a mile away:

  • In the early 2010s, it seemed evident that soon the running back position would go the way of MySpace.
  • Then after Peyton Manning took “Super Bowl quality play” to the Broncos simply by being able to test free agency, the split between “franchise” and “quarterback” in being a franchise quarterback was an inevitability; Brady, Stafford, and now Russell Wilson is attempting to be three in a row.

Now the shift is happening at wide receiver and it’s been moving in this direction for at least three seasons. We may not hear the “wide receivers don’t matter” argument soon but the only receivers over 29 who were targeted more than 100 times last season were Marvin Jones (25th in targets) and Cole Beasley (28th). Next was Adam Thielen, who had the 43rd most targets, with 95 of them, albeit in 13 games.

But the lack of availability, if not just the perception of it as players get older, could also play into teams hesitating to sign any wide receiver to his third contract. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods were exceptions to this last year, and then Woods unfortunately tore his ACL midseason.

Kupp, on the other hand, re-wrote the record books.

I’m not arguing for or against anything here, this is simply an “observe and report” situation. What I’ve observed is that teams are reluctant to give those roster spots, those opportunities, and targets to veteran receivers over cheaper, younger options in recent years. This could potentially lead to OBJ, who’s already dealing with recovering from knee surgery, being on the free agent market for a while.

Allen Robinson, 28 and having missed five games last season, may face a similar issue. Julio Jones, 33 and released after one injury-plagued season on the Titans, has the same problem. Jarvis Landry was released by the Browns, and he’s coming off of the first injury-riddled season of his career, but it’s really at the wrong time. Landry turns 30 in November.

There might not be a great wide receiver in free agency in 2022. Which is why Christian Kirk, 25, got paid and got paid fast.

The next two guys to sign were Russell Gage and Zay Jones. The NFL is not pushing each other over to get to the big name receivers anymore.

They were in a rush to get to Von Miller though and even at 33, he’s gotten a six-year, $120 million deal. Teams have shown what they value. So even though the Rams couldn’t afford Miller, they should be able to keep Beckham, if he’s willing to take a pay cut to stay. If any other team is willing to pay him like he’s the old OBJ, then he will be gone.

Is the return of Sean McVay going to be enough to keep Aaron Donald?