The Los Angeles Rams do not necessarily have a weakness at safety, but they also haven’t shown any urgency to find a true star at the position either. If anything, Les Snead and Sean McVay have worked harder to create depth at the position than to be top heavy, but does that mean that they see little value in finding elite players at safety?
Or does it mean that the Rams have simply not been lucky enough to find elite players at safety?
On Wednesday morning, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced a four-year, $73.6 million contract extension with All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Having already traded a first round pick to acquire Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins two years ago, the Steelers have now gone one step further in making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
Fitzpatrick’s contract tops that of three notable safeties in the NFC West, including Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs of the Seattle Seahawks, as well as Budda Baker with the Arizona Cardinals. The San Francisco 49ers also have Jimmie Ward on a contract that pays him $9.5 million per season.
But this is NOT AT ALL how the LA Rams approach the position, as their highest paid safety at this point is Taylor Rapp, now entering the final year of a four-year, $4.6 million rookie contract. He is followed by the $1 million per year contract of Terrell Burgess, and even rookie Quentin Lake is set to make more on an annual basis than starter/green dot leader Jordan Fuller; both are under $1 million per year.
This is also how you can afford to pay Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Matthew Stafford, Allen Robinson, etc.
On their way to a Super Bowl championship in 2021, the Rams were fine with starting Rapp and Fuller to open the season. They were also getting by with Nick Scott and Eric Weddle by the time the playoffs rolled around and injuries forced a few changes at the most important time of the year. Los Angeles was actually more than fine despite any deficiencies at safety created by injuries and a lack of investment; the Rams had the opportunity to re-sign John Johnson III instead of Leonard Floyd last offseason, but chose to go with the linebacker over the person who was calling plays for them at safety.
Other teams, like the Bengals, Broncos, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Bears (top-five in positional spending at safety) see a need at the position based on what they want to do on defense. The Rams do not see it that way and currently rank 26th in spending at safety for the 2022 season, with Rapp raking in $2.9 million of that in his final contract year.
Rapp and Scott could both leave in free agency in 2023, but Fuller, Burgess, Lake are still contracted through then and could fill the void. Or the Rams could go another route.
Should the Rams re-sign Rapp or Scott? Or will it be another churn at the position over the next nine months?