The Los Angeles Rams are reloading for the 2022 season in hopes of defending their Super Bowl title. General manager Les Snead has been busy retaining players on expiring contracts and bringing new talent on board.
But the Rams are up against the NFL salary cap - and they couldn’t bring back everyone.
Which re-signings or additions will help Los Angeles the most in 2022, and which player signing elsewhere could prove most detrimental?
The Turf Show Times writer staff dove into these two burning questions and gave their thoughts the team’s approach to free agency:
1 - What is the best move made by the Rams so far in free agency?
Joe Noteboom / Allen Robinson -
Since Whitworth officially retired, keeping Noteboom has to be at the top. But in terms of best value move, Allen Robinson belongs in that conversation because getting him for $15 mil AAV, based on current WR market, is a bargain for LA. Not to mention, Allen Robinson does bring another dimension to the offense with size & downfield ability. As much as I love Robert Woods, he was only able to be an intermediate route runner.
Signing Allen Robinson who will give the Rams perhaps the deepest receiving core in the NFL. My apologies to Blake Bortles but Matthew Stafford will be the best QB Robinson has played with in his pro career. Having Robinson opposite Kupp will alleviate the pressure off the reigning Offensive Player of the Year. In other words, A-Rob is about to ball out.
I’d say re-signing left tackle Joseph Noteboom.
The Rams gave Noteboom a 3-yr, $40M deal in order to retain the heir apparent to Andrew Whitworth, which is a steep price for a relatively unknown commodity. I’d be more concerned if another team paid this much for Noteboom; however, the Rams have evaluated the young offensive lineman for the last four years and have invested significant resources in his development. I trust the coaching staff’s determination that he was a priority re-signing and the left tackle of the future.
Randy Venie Soares
Re-signing kicker Matt Gay. I simply wouldn’t want to go through the Sloman/Forbath debacle again. I am ready to be spoiled with a steady placekicking performance for years to come.
For most teams, I would caution against trying to do too much in free agency and to not make noise in the first wave. But the Rams are “go big or go home” and also that strategy paid off big last season, so I’d say Allen Robinson fits what McVay wants on offense and Snead is the GM who made it happen. This is a pass-catchers driven league in some ways and Robinson’s going to have a career-year, if healthy.
2 - Which offseason departure will LA miss the most?
Von Miller, Darious Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Corbett, Johnny Mundt, Obo Okoronkwo signed with other teams.
Robert Woods was traded to Tennessee. Johnny Hekker was released.
Randy Venie Soares
Robert Woods. It will take more than athletic skills to replace his overall presence. He leaves huge shoes to fill, not only in production but leadership as well.
I would say Darious Williams given LA doesn’t have much experience at corner outside of Ramsey, David Long and second-year player Robert Rochell. Williams was such a rock-solid player who has grown into his role as a starter that last three seasons. Maybe this will end up being a good thing since the younger guys like Long and Rochell will get more experience but overall Williams’ loss stings due to the loss of significant production.
Sebastian Joseph-Day is like a triple-threat, except instead of movies/music/dance, it’s football/heart/locker room. There’s a non-zero chance that the Rams just lost a future Pro Bowl star and I know how much he must have benefited from playing next to Aaron Donald. That doesn’t mean that SJD and being his own star are mutually exclusive. If his pass rush game had really developed last year, SJD could be a three-down player in Brandon Staley’s defense.
The Rams may have waited too long for Von Miller to make his free agency decision, and it cost them Obo Okoronkwo in the process. Okoronkwo’s only signed a 1-yr, $3.5M deal with the Houston Texans, so it’s not like he was a hot commodity on the open market.
The bottom line is I’d feel much more comfortable asking a key contributor to emerge out of a group with Okoronkwo, Justin Hollins, Terrell Lewis, and Chris Garrett - but now I think LA will need to look for external reinforcements. It will potentially cost the team additional cap space and draft capital to make an acquisition, though Okonkwo could have been retained affordably. He’s been an effective pass rusher in limited opportunities and could have been well-suited for a larger role.
Von Miller -
Not worth getting cute with this answer. Von Miller is a future HoFer, and ability down the stretch was on full display. He will be missed, especially by Aaron Donald.