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Scouring free agency for low cost add-ons to bolster the LA Rams roster

After waiving five undrafted free agents, Les Snead flips round and re-signs four

Baltimore Ravens v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

It was a very long 24 hours for five of the 17 Los Angeles Rams undrafted free agents. After the team reported on May 17 that they had released tight end Roger Carter, linebacker Andrzej Hughes- Murray, safety Daniel Isom, cornerback TJ Carter, and wide receiver Lance McCutcheon, the Rams turned around on May 18 and re-signed them all except for Hughes-Murray.

Such is life on the bottom half of NFL rosters, particularly the preseason roster. These 30-35 players are in a constant state of interchangeable volatility. More than likely, Les Snead and Sean McVay will transact many more moves in the coming months, keeping an eye for salary cap casualties and of course, Rams fans must also keep track of their own roster and any possible cap casualties.

While the Rams roster is almost fully stocked, and their first OTA is in the books, there are some position units that could still use some bolstering. Not necessarily first or second string roles, but rather, deepening, adding experience, or special teams (ST). According to overthecap.com, LA has $5.4 mil in cap space, so any forays into free agency must be be done with a sharp eye on the dollar. With that in mind, here are five possible additions the Rams could make from the free agency wire.

Wide receiver

Odell Beckham Jr.- The first one is a cheat, I know, but signing OBJ would be enough for the Rams to rest on their transaction laurels until the 2022 season begins. I could see Beckham wanting a big, guaranteed contract, he probably won’t have many more long term contracts being thrown his way. The Rams should negotiate tough, a normal 30 year-old with his injury history should probably be in line for “show me” contract, but don’t be penny wise and dollar foolish. OBJ’s skills make every one around him more effective, he is a dangerous mismatch against man coverage and in the red zone.

The Rams wideout unit, before training camp, is really only three deep. While Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and Van Jefferson are a stellar trio, WR4 and WR5 are wide open. Tutu Atwell and Bennett Skowronek, if one or both can make the sophomore step up, will see a lot of snaps. Everyone else behind these players are of ST caliber.

Running back

Ty’son Williams- At first blush, running back doesn’t seem to be a big need with the return of Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson and the drafting of Kyren Williams. But every returning back on the Rams roster missed multiple games last season because of injury, Every single one.

Williams is a little bigger than the current LA backs measuring 6’ 220 lbs. At his Pro day, he ran a 4.48 forty, 6.81 3cone, and a 4.21 shuttle. He showed good strength with 24 reps on the bench. He is still little raw and needs some coaching up but is good combination of size, speed, and agility. He seems to have good hands and catches away from his body. He runs with good vision, patience, and contact balance.

He went undrafted in 2020, was signed by the Baltimore Ravens and spent the season on their practice squad. He had a stellar 2021 preseason, and because of injuries, was pressed into the Ravens season-opening running back rotation. Williams started three games and finished the season with 35 carries for 185 yards and added nine receptions for 84 yards.

Tight end

Daniel Brown- 30 year-old journeyman who has spent time in five organizations, mostly as a backup and ST player. He’s played in 86 total games and had a modest 46 catches, but he logged over 1300 ST snaps.

In high school, he was First-team All State in football, basketball, and baseball, so he is athletically gifted. Was a wide receiver in college, and bulked up to play tight end as a pro. Standing 6’5” and 250 lbs. with long arms and big, strong hands. At his Pro Day, albeit eight years ago, he ran a 4.52 forty, 6.9 in the 3cone and 4.29 in the short shuttle. Here are some clips of of Daniel Brown’s work.

The Rams do have a full tight end room and don’t need another body, but consider that TE1 Tyler Higbee missed the Super Bowl and had knee surgery after the big win. Brycen Hopkins had a strong championship game, but has only been active in 13 games overall. Kendall Blanton is huge, but is not a good blocker and is heavy-footed, although he does have pretty good hands. Jacob Harris is 215 lbs., has the speed and build of a wide receiver, was injured all last year, and has zero NFL regular season snaps.

Edge

Takkarist McKinley

Former first round draft pick who suffered a ruptured achilles tendon last December. McKinley has had some minor injury problems in his past, but was giving the Cleveland Browns solid rotational snaps before his demise. He has, in the past, shown ability to rush the passer. If he can pass a physical, he could be a low risk rotational role player, who may settle in by returning to where he played his college career.

He has the measurables, he comes in 6’2” 250 lbs., with almost 35” long arms and 10” hands. His explosion numbers were stellar at 10’ 2” in the broad jump. a 33” vertical, and 24 reps on the bench. Agility numbers are adequate, as well, a 7.48 3cone and 4.62 shuttle.

The edge position is arguably the Rams thinnest unit. Leonard Floyd is a solid NFL player and Justin Hollins is big, fast and athletic, he has given LA some solid snaps, and could be ready for prime time. After these two, things become murky. Hollins is coming off a torn pectoral injury, Terrell Lewis is long on potential, but short on actual play time and production. Chris Garrett fits into that same designation, really interesting traits that need to be turned into actual on-field results.

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Offensive line

Tyrell Crosby- Another talented player who's struggled with injury as a pro and missed all of 2021. You can’t really call it a fall from grace, because he was a 2018 fifth round pick, but he did earn his way to a starting right tackle spot for the Detroit Lions. The Detroit Free Press reported the back injury that forced Crosby out of ‘21 had been mis-diagnosed by the Lions medical staff.

He has good size and length. standing nearly 6’ 5”, weighing 309 lbs. with 35 1/4” arms and 10 3/4” hands. Adequate agility/explosion with a 7.89 3cone, 4.77 shuttle, 30” vertical, 9’ 8” broad and 17 reps on the bench. He plays with an edge and on film looks like he moves well enough for the outside zone. He makes up for his lack of elite athleticism with a highly competitive nature and film study work. He could offer some value as a swing tackle that can also move inside to guard. If his body is willing and ready, he could be an inexpensive role player.

When the Rams drafted Logan Bruss, it added much needed support to the interior offensive line. If Bruss can quickly take to the pro game and marry in with Brian Allen, David Edwards, Coleman Shelton, Joseph Noteboom, Rob Havenstein, that is solid rotation. Probably not going to strike fear in the hearts of opposing defenses, but in the Rams scheme, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If healthy, Tyrell Crosby could compete confidently with Alaric Jackson and Bobby Evans for a swing tackle role.

Can any of these players help the Rams?

Certainly, the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. would make the receiving unit an elite squad, but after him, the success of any of the others would be incremental. More a case of adding depth to an already strong roster. All these players have earned NFL starts, but carry some baggage and need a new start. Williams at running back offers some developmental upside as a three down back. To lesser extent, Crosby is still young enough to add technique and strength traits. Brown at tight end, is as advertised, a long move tight end. McKinley needs to contribute like he did in his first two seasons, maybe he is far away enough from that first round draft position and has matured enough to be a consistent pro.