Acquiring a generational talent on a rookie deal or a bargain free agent contract can provide the opportunity to propel a franchise towards the playoffs and in some cases, a Super Bowl championship.
Though Kurt Warner is one of the more famous examples in NFL history by helping the St. Louis Rams win a Super Bowl in 1999, Matthew Stafford’s $20 million cap hit was also a relative bargain last season given the exorbitant salaries paid out to other quarterbacks around the league today.
Who are the best bargains in Rams history on the offensive side of the ball?
Rather than look back too far, why not start with Warner in ‘99 and work our way up to the present day. Given how much L.A. is paying their stars now, the Rams will need some bargains to step up in 2022.
Kurt Warner (1999) / AAV - $750,000
Stats: 65.1 Comp. %, 4353 yards, 41 TD:13 INT, 8.7 Y/A, 109.2 Rating, 29 sacks,
NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP
- Warner took the National Football League by storm. Not only is his 1999 season still one of the best quarterback seasons to this day, but you won’t find a contractual value for the type of performance Warner gave the Rams in ‘99.
Todd Gurley (2018) / AAV - $3,455,796
Stats: 256 carries, 1251 yards (4.9 YPC), 17 TDs, 1 fumble
59 receptions, 580 yards, 4 TDs
- Todd Gurley was a top 10 pick in the 2015 draft. Everyone knew that he was an elite talent, but his two year span between 2017 and 2018 was a stretch of dominance on the ground. His 21 TDs in ‘18 carried the Rams to a Super Bowl appearance. Despite the onset of a knee injury, there is no denying Gurley was one of the key reasons LA turned around the franchise.
Torry Holt (2003) / AAV - $2,000,000
Stats: 117 receptions, 1696 yards, 12 TDs, 106.0 Y/G, 60 First Downs
- Torry Holt wasted no time introducing himself to the league. What critics don’t realize is that Holt was arguably the best WR in the 2000s. Look no further than his 2003 season (the last year on his rookie deal). At that time it was his fourth straight season with 1300+ yards and he would go on to add two more seasons after that.
Wide Receiver (2)
Cooper Kupp (2019) / AAV - $957,940
Stats: 94 receptions, 1161 yards, 10 TDs, 72.6 Y/G, 51 First Downs
- Yes, Kupp’s 2021 season is his best. But his 2019 season is overlooked because the Rams suffered their worst record with McVay as head coach. The significance of the 2019 season was that it cemented that moving forward the offense would run through Cooper Kupp. If it weren’t for Goff regressing, Kupp could have put up bigger numbers.
Wide Receiver (3)
Robert Woods (2018) / AAV - $6,800,000
Stats: 86 receptions, 1219 yards, 6 TDs, 76.2 Y/G, 66 First Downs
- LA fan favorite, Bobby Trees, will be remembered for his commitment to playing hard every snap while wearing blue and yellow. When Los Angeles signed him in 2017 it was criticized as one of the worst free agency signings. Funny how time works as it would quickly turn into one of the best free agency signings of the past decade considering the shape of the WR market.
Tyler Higbee (2019) / AAV - $730,215
Stats: 69 receptions, 734 yards, 3 TD, 5 broken tackles, 2 drops
- The tight end position for the LA Rams hasn’t produced a record-breaking performance or even captivating numbers. Tyler Higbee’s 2019 season is the standard at this point though.
Orlando Pace (1999) / AAV - $3,360,833
- Pace is the gold standard of Rams offensive tackles. The former No. 1 overall pick was Warner’s blindside and a mauler in the run game. His athleticism orchestrated the dynamic ability of the Greatest Show on Turf. His friendly salary in the early years of the GSOT era allowed the team to splurge elsewhere.
Offensive Tackle (2)
Rob Havenstein (2021) / AAV - $8,125,000
- $8 million might not seem like a great contractual value but based on the tackle market in 2021 and Havenstein’s performance, the Rams decision to extend him in 2018 paid dividends three years later.
Adam Timmerman (1999) / AAV - $3,600,000
- Timmerman is the 2nd of 3 offensive lineman from the 1999 Super Bowl on this list. Timmerman’s decision to come to St. Louis solidified the offensive line, providing a capable body to block against the likes of Bryant Young (San Francisco). A true bargain buy.
Offensive Guard (2)
Rodger Saffold (2017) / AAV - $6,269,447
- Saffold’s versatility in his early years was a great combination of performance and value. His 2017 season finished with an all-pro accolade. Considering the Raiders were willing to pay him $8.5 million per year in 2014, Los Angeles retained the stud guard below market value, which included 0 holding calls and only 1 false start over 15 starts.
Andy McCollum (1999) / AAV - >$900,000
- McCollum was a mainstay across the St. Louis OL in the early 2000s. He kept Warner well-protected in 1999 as the quarterback was sacked less than 30 times in the season. That and his salary of less than $1 million gives him the nod as the Rams best value performance center.
Throw your thoughts in the comment section below on any other worthy candidates!