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Important offseason dates to remember as Rams look to “run it back”

When does NFL free agency begin? Can the Rams build a roster to “run it back”?

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams Championship Parade Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

While it seems the season just ended for the Los Angeles Rams, it is already time for them to re-build their roster in hopes of defending their Super Bowl title.

LA has a number of key free agents that could hit the open market later this month. Will the Rams take the approach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason and retain the championship roster, or will Los Angeles re-load with new talent?

We won’t have to wait long for the answer - the offseason is fast approaching. Below are important dates and milestones to remember as the Rams take on free agency, the NFL Draft, and more:

Franchise Tag Deadline

Tuesday, March 8th

The Rams likely won’t use the franchise tag, though CB Darious Williams, OLB Von Miller, WR Odell Beckham, Jr. are key players with expiring contracts. LA will also need to keep their offensive line together with LT Joseph Noteboom, OC Brian Allen, and RG Austin Corbett expected to hit the open market.

Free Agency - legal tampering period

March 14-16 (Monday to Wednesday)

The legal tampering period allows other teams to enter into contract negotiations with players set to become unrestricted free agents at the onset of the new league year.

While the Rams are able to start discussing bringing new talent on board, other teams are able to recruit and negotiate with their players with expiring contracts. Will LA be able to retain key contributors such as Miller, OBJ, and portions of their offensive line?

Free agency may officially begin on Wednesday afternoon, but the groundwork is laid during the legal tampering period.

Free Agency & Start of New League Year

Wednesday, March 16th - 1:00pm PT

As of 1:00 PM PT, unrestricted free agents are now able to officially execute a contract with a new team. Teams are able to negotiate and trade players on existing contracts.

There is really no end to free agency, though players tend to sign in waves. Teams pay a premium to attract free agents in the early days, but there is value to be found in the later days and in the middle tier of unsigned players.

Rams begin offseason workout program

Monday, April 18th

LA can begin conducting voluntary team activities which may include strength and conditioning activities, meetings, and physical rehabilitation for injured players. On-field workouts are strictly not allowed during this phase of the offseason program, but this time of year may still be important for young players that are returning and for coaches that are new to the team.

Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offers

Friday, April 22nd

The Rams have five restricted free agents this offseason. RFA’s are players with expiring contracts that have not yet accrued three seasons in the league. These are typically individuals that have been released from their original rookie deals, former undrafted free agents, or players with injuries that prevented them from accruing a season of play.

This is the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offers with another team, but the original team has a Right of First Refusal. If a club is able to lure away a restricted free agent, there are various levels of compensation that club may be obligated to send to the original team (depending on the player’s designation by the original club).

These are LA’s five RFA’s for 2022:

  • Matt Gay, K
  • Troy Reeder, ILB
  • Travin Howard, ILB
  • Coleman Shelton, IOL
  • Jamil Demby, IOL

Deadline to exercise Right of First Refusal for RFA’s

Wednesday, April 27th

If the Rams RFA’s receive offer sheets during the previous period, LA will have an opportunity to sign that player to a equal to or greater contract in order to retain that individual. If Los Angeles elects not to sign a player to an equal to or greater deal, the Rams may be entitled to return compensation from the player’s new team depending on the player’s tender by LA.

RFA’s can be tendered at the following levels in 2022:

  • First round - base compensation of $5.4M
  • Second round - base compensation of $4M
  • Original round - base compensation of $2.5M (no compensation for former UDFA’s)
  • Right of first refusal - base compensation of $2.4M (no compensation if Rams decline to match offer sheet)

NFL Draft

First round - Thursday, April 28th

Second & third rounds - Friday, April 29th

Fourth thru seventh rounds - Saturday, April 30th

At this point most Rams fans may be skipping the first round on Thursday night, as the team has not had a first round draft selection since 2016 and will not have a selection in the first round for another two years.

LA will be making a number of picks in the later rounds, pending expected but not finalized compensatory selections:

  • 3rd round - compensatory for losing Brad Holmes to Detroit Lions
  • 4th round - compensatory for John Johnson III signing with Cleveland Browns
  • 5th round - Rams’ original selection
  • 6th round - three compensatory picks for losing Samson Ebukam (49ers), Gerald Everett (Seahawks), and Troy Hill (Browns)
  • 7th round - Rams’ original selection and another from 2019 trade of corner Aqib Talib

This leaves the Rams with eight selections pending any trades between now and the draft.

Sign UDFA’s

Saturday, April 30th - subsequent to draft

Once the NFL Draft has concluded, teams work diligently to sign players that were not selected. LA has acquired a number of key contributors through this process in recent seasons, including Troy Reeder (ILB), Bryce Perkins (QB), Johnny Mundt (TE), Morgan Fox (DL, now with Panthers), Michael Hoecht (DL), and more.