Among the questions facing Sean McVay ahead of the L.A. Rams’ necessary roster cuts this week is whether or not the team should add outside help before the season. While it is inadvisable to expect a great return from any player who fails to make a roster at this time of year, value is hardly improbable to find at final cuts.
Not long ago, McVay’s decision to risk losing John Franklin-Myers paid off for the New York Jets. Last season, the decision between OBJ and the Cleveland Browns to make a split midseason paid off dividends for the Rams.
Which notable players could be nearing the end of their respective partnerships with their current teams?
QB Mason Rudolph
If the Rams feel at all uneasy about John Wolford or Bryce Perkins as Matthew Stafford’s backup, perhaps another 2022 acquisition at quarterback is possible. I would not expect anything to change at quarterback this week, but say that Mason Rudolph (or another quarterback) is released and hangs out on the free agent market for a while.
I wouldn’t rule out Les Snead and Sean McVay adding a quarterback with experience at some point. Rudolph is not a starter, but he has started 10 games and could game manage in a tight spot. It was only a year ago that the Rams employed a former teammate of Rudolph’s, Duck Hodges.
OT Andre Dillard
The 22nd pick in the 2019 draft, Dillard is the Eagles’ version of Bobby Evans...kind of. Drafted with the expectation to start at left tackle relatively early, Dillard has made nine starts in three seasons and he’s bad. That’s why Philadelphia could outright release him this year, if they don’t find a trade partner. The Eagles may also be looking for a way out with regards to their 2020 first round pick too, wide receiver Jalen Reagor.
RB Ronald Jones
If McVay doesn’t feel great about the soft tissue injuries with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson, plus the inexperience of Kyren Williams and Jake Funk, perhaps he’d look to an outside option again. Just as the Rams did by acquiring Sony Michel a year ago.
Jones, the 38th overall pick in 2018, signed with the Chiefs in the offseason but appears to have fallen out of a job in Kansas City. He rushed for 978 yards and seven touchdowns with the Bucs in 2020, but lost ground to Leonard Fournette and never became the dual threat expected of him coming out of college four years ago.
RB Sony Michel
Michel may not make the Dolphins roster. He wasn’t a fit to return with the Rams as a free agent in March. Maybe he makes more sense in September. If he makes Miami’s roster, he could push Salvon Ahmed or Myles Gaskin to free agency/waivers.
OLB Jordan Willis
A third round pick of the Bengals in 2017, Willis has played for three different teams in the last four years, including the last one and a half with the 49ers. He had three sacks in limited reps last season and might be a consideration if he doesn’t make San Francisco’s roster this time around. That’s looking increasingly unlikely so perhaps the 27-year-old edge player could work his way into an L.A. group that has no clear answers opposite of Leonard Floyd. Willis would not be an answer. Maybe he would be a practice squad player.
OT Isaiah Wynn
The Patriots drafted both Michel and Wynn in the first round in 2018, could both make their way to the Rams eventually? Do we forget the fact that even Bill Belichick has horrible draft choices in the first round and maybe that’s why Snead says “Screw it!” every year with those picks?
Wynn has started 33 games at left tackle over the last three seasons. But he’s going into his fifth-year option and yet doesn’t have a starting job in New England after the team signed Trent Brown in the offseason. At right tackle, Wynn has potentially lost the job to Yodny Cajuste.
The Cowboys are the most obvious trade partner after losing Tyron Smith for the season, but would the Rams be more comfortable having Wynn as depth instead of Evans? Could they make a trade with the Patriots before Dallas can do it? And what would the cost be? If the Rams like Wynn enough, he could even be a potential long-term option if Rob Havenstein leaves in 2023. That’s unlikely, but stranger things happen this time of year.
OLB K’Lavon Chaisson
How interesting it would be if Snead traded for Chaisson, one of the picks that Jacksonville used from the Jalen Ramsey trade. Chaisson seems locked in as a depth piece for the Jaguars this year, but the team is clearly elated with starters Josh Allen and first overall pick Travon Walker, so that does leave their 2020 first rounder as a reserve. His value may not be greater than a fourth round pick, if that. Chaisson has two sacks in two seasons.