The Los Angeles Rams entered free agency with re-signing pass rusher Von Miller as their number one priority, and by remaining committed to Miller LA missed out on other free agent options at the position.
Or so it seemed - until Za’Darius Smith reneged on his reported deal with the Baltimore Ravens and re-entered the free agent pool, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Plot twist: Former #Packers pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith is not signing his deal with the #Ravens after all, sources say. He remains a free agent.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2022
Smith was cut by the Green Bay Packers prior to the onset of the new league year, which means he wouldn’t count against the Rams in terms of the compensatory selection formula. The veteran edge rusher missed nearly all of the 2021 regular season after suffering a back injury in Week 1. He returned for the Packers’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, recording a sack on quarterback Jiimmy Garoppolo. Smith played only a third of the defensive snaps against the 49ers, but his appearance in that game would suggest he’s near full health now.
Smith started all 16 games during both the 2019 and 2020 seasons, recording 13.5 and 12.5 sacks, respectively. He earned Pro Bowl nods for his performances in each of these seasons. At 6-4, 272 lbs., the veteran would give the Rams a bigger body than they currently have on their roster at outside linebacker.
The Rams have options to replace Miller at edge defender - and they have a trio of young players that could be viable internal replacements.
Justin Hollins, acquired by LA via waiver claim from the Denver Broncos, has been a great, low-risk pickup by the Rams. Terrell Lewis is a third-year player with all the athleticism and talent needed to be a key contributor, but a lingering knee issue has limited his availability. Chris Garrett was a preseason star in 2021, though it remains to be seen whether he can keep up his level of play against better competition.
It remains to be seen whether the Rams have interest in signing Smith; however, after missing out on Miller and being left with a glaring hole opposite Floyd, it certainly seems like a move we’ve grown accustomed to general manager Les Snead making.