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Random Ramsdom: The Rams may not lose big name players in 2023 free agency

Los Angeles Rams News and Links for 1/23/23

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams’ pending free agents have much different feel than 2022 class (ramswire)

“This time last year, the Los Angeles Rams were preparing to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round of the playoffs. Free agency was hardly at the top of the minds of those in L.A., but this offseason has a different feel after the Rams went 5-12.

What also has a different feel is the Rams’ collective group of free agents. They suffered some major losses in free agency last offseason, watching Von Miller, Darious Williams and Austin Corbett all leave. Odell Beckham Jr. also was not re-signed, though he remains a free agent.

This year, there are no headliners. There are no Pro Bowlers set to hit the market for the Rams, and certainly no future Hall of Famers like Miller is. That’s not to say there aren’t starters who will become free agents, but they’re not as impactful as the players Los Angeles lost last year.

A good way to compare their 2022 and 2023 free-agent classes is by looking at Pro Football Focus’ rankings from each year. In 2022, the Rams had four of the top 50 free agents: Miller (No. 2), Beckham (No. 15), Williams (No. 29) and Corbett (No. 45). Brian Allen (No. 59), Sony Michel (No. 72) and Sebastian Joseph-Day (No. 77) all cracked the top 100, too.

This year, the Rams don’t have a single free agent in PFF’s top 50. Their top free agents are A’Shawn Robinson, Troy Hill, Matt Gay, Nick Scott and Greg Gaines. They all could be starters on another team in 2023, but the Rams won’t be in significantly worse shape without them.”

Rams Address Key Area of Need in Latest NFL Mock (fannation)

“One glaring area of need for the Rams is the outside linebacker position, a position that is thin. They do have Leonard Floyd but there is a definite lack of talent after Floyd on the depth chart.

How they can address this need, though, isn’t easy as they don’t have an abundance of draft picks or cap space. However, Dane Brugler of The Athletic did a two-round mock and addressed the Rams’ need for an outside linebacker.

In his mock, the Rams drafted Georgia’s Nolan Smith with their No. 36 overall pick in the second round.

Smith, coming in at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, is slightly undersized at the edge position compared to Floyd, Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins, who are all 6-foot-5. While he is undersized, comparatively speaking, Smith does fit well as a 3-4 edge rusher in the Rams’ scheme.

He had a productive four-year career at Georgia, recording 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss in 38 games. In his last season, he recorded seven tackles for loss and three sacks, helping bolster one of the best defenses in college football.”

What to make of the LA Rams special teams for 2023? (ramblinfan)

“The LA Rams special teams were certainly a mixed back for the 2022 NFL season. The team had a great performance by placekicker Matt Gay. A not-so-hot performance from veteran punter Riley Dixon. And a bit of regression by special team return specialist Brandon Powell.

But in the end, it all added up to the team’s decision to fire (or a gentler term, part ways with) Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis.

The only question now is: What now?

The obvious answer is that the LA Rams will need to hire a new special team coordinator. But will that be an NFL or NCAA candidate? And what happens after that? How will the team address kicker, long snapper, punter, and return specialist duties this season?

Well, that is a very important, yet complex, question facing the LA Rams right now.

But what of NFL special teams? We know that the Houston Texans showcased a great special teams unit this year (Ranked #1 by Rick Gosselin), spearheaded by ST Coordinator Frank Ross. With his team now hiring a new head coach, will he be available? Let’s hope so.

Another NFL team with a head coach vacancy is the Carolina Panthers (Ranked #4 by Rick Gosselin). Their special teams were led by Chris Tabor, a veteran of 25 years of coaching who had worked with both the Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns in the past.

A final NFL team with a solid special teams unit but with a head coaching vacancy is that of the Indianapolis Colts (Ranked #8 by Rick Gosselin). Their ST Coordinator is Bubba Ventrone, a coach with 17 years of NFL coaching experience in the NFL, and five seasons of ST coaching with the Colts.”

Have you heard Les Snead’s latest interview? Are LA Rams playing possum? (ramblinfan)

“We have heard it all before. The LA Rams have no picks (they have 10 picks in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft). The LA Rams have no cap space (they are ranked 23rd of 32 NFL teams in that regard). The LA Rams have to blow it all up and start over. (The Rams have 52 players returning for the 2023 NFL season, and more than a dozen players were injured and did not play for a substantial portion of the 2022 NFL season).

The end-of-season press conference from LA Rams general manager Les Snead was very informative. In his presser, he surveyed a number of hot topics, and he did so with his typical eloquence and cerebral style. Les Snead never backs down from a question, even the tough ones, and this presser was no different.

I have come to admire and respect the manner in which Rams GM Les Snead conducts business in the NFL. He always knows more about football than anyone in the room, but he never lords it over. He has that stoic ‘Poker Face,’ that Lady Gaga sings about, the countenance of a riverboat gambler who makes his fortune off reading people’s faces and working the odds in poker to separate other players from their riches.

It’s a time of both reflection and projection. A time afforded to Rams GM Les Snead in a recent interview over how he foresees the Rams’ strategy going forward.

“We’re probably going to have to, let’s call it, not press the gas as much and pay a little bit of the debt that we’ve accumulated,” – per LA Rams GM Les Snead in an interview with the LA Times

We’ve anticipated that type of perspective, and have already begun to poll Rams fans for their take on how they would describe their level of optimism for the new season. As of January 21, 2023, more than 64 percent of respondents hold the highest level of optimism for the new season.

So why is the LA Rams GM Les Snead sounding like a middle-of-the-road type of optimistic approach? Could it be that the . . .

LA Rams are playing possum?

The Rams are nowhere near as bad as many have professed. This is not a roster that needs to be blown up. This is not a team that needs to undertake a massive rebuild. Far too many have written the obituary for the LA Rams out of jealousy and anger, and have ignored the fact that almost all of the key players who helped this team win Super Bowl LVI will heal and return for the 2023 NFL season.

The team has nearly a Pro Bowl’s worth of veterans who were out but will be back as healthy as ever in 2023. Players like DL Aaron Donald, WR Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson, and QB Matthew Stafford.

The Rams have many positive trends that have been ignored. RB Cam Akers is lit and can tie rookie RB Todd Gurley’s amazing four-game stretch of 100+ yards rushing in the first game of the 2023 NFL season. Then there is the arrival of field-stretching but also chains-moving wide receiver Tutu Atwell.”

How will LA Rams address the safety position? (ramblinfan)

“The LA Rams’ secondary plummeted from a Super Bowl winner to a weak link on a 5-12 team almost overnight. But deep-diving a bit, the defense still had Jalen Ramsey at cornerback, still had Nick Scott at strong safety, and may have downgraded a wee bit from Darious Williams/Donte Deayon to Troy Hill/Cobie Durant (but I would argue not as much as you may think), but the plummet from savvy free safety retired veteran Eric Weddle to Taylor Rapp was a huge drop-off.

Even when Rapp was cleared to play, the Rams elected to keep playing Weddle, and after witnessing the 2022 NFL season, the reasons became clearer. Weddle was a cerebral safety, a guy whose mind-diagnosed plays instantly and accurately. That allowed him to not only follow the offensive plays as they developed but allowed him to play seamless pass defense with his teammates like Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams.

Far too often in the 2022 pass defense, Ramsey was looking for safety help that was never forthcoming. Rapp was getting led away from the play by the quarterback’s eyes, or the offense schemed two receivers to flood Ramsey’s way knowing to throw the ball to the receiver that Ramsey could not cover. So what is the solution?

Free agency or draft?

The LA Rams are counting on a healthy crop of awarded compensatory draft picks for the 2024 NFL Draft, and as such will be reluctant to dabble in the NFL Free Agency market for anyone who is priced at a premium or at their FMV (Fair Market Value).

That means that the Rams will likely try to address their secondary needs via the NFL Draft.

The Rams hold two picks on Day 2, both of whom are higher than any pick used in the 2022 NFL Draft. The team could add key players to address the safety position with either pick. I expect if the team does draft a safety, the team will tip its hand by first trading back and trying to acquire a fourth-round pick.”