The L.A. Rams are always an interesting team to watch in free agency, including Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson last year even though both of those players are likely headed out this year. From the great spending spree of 2017 to all those fascinating trades, Les Snead is a player on the market every year.
Except maybe this year.
With cap concerns and a “reloading” effort coming off of a disappointing 5-12 campaign, the Rams may play it cool. Still, there could be opportunities to add players at certain stages of their careers with an eye towards getting better in the long-term so let’s at least be aware of who is on the market, not just for L.A., but also the other three NFC West teams. This is part one, the “top-10” free agents, and then we’ll keep going until free agency opens next week: Tampering period on March 13, full-on free agency on March 15.
I’ll be going straight off the CBS Sports top-100 free agents list, excluding players who are tagged or signed.
1. DT Javon Hargrave, Eagles
We’re going to find out just how badly players on the Eagles who just barely missed out on a championship want to run it back with Philadelphia. The Eagles have a ton of key free agents but not a lot of cap space and they too are paying a penance for pushing all-in with a Super Bowl run. Hargrave is not fit for the Rams in their current state and I couldn’t see him going to any NFC West team.
2. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints
I have no idea why CBS is still so high on Davenport, it seems they’re still worried about his ceiling as a draft prospect five years ago. Davenport had 0.5 sacks in 15 games last year, he has a long injury history, his best season was in 2021 and marred by injury. Similar to Leonard Floyd in 2020, I’d think that Davenport is looking for a one-year prove-it contract, not a long-term deal. The Rams have picked up guys like Floyd and Dante Fowler, Jr. in the past, so I’ll say this is a “non-zero” chance but not very likely.
3. LT Orlando Brown, Chiefs
If L.A.’s cap situation was different, adding Brown at this time would make a lot of sense. Sean McVay set the tone for a new era by signing Andrew Whitworth in 2017. The Rams would love to get things right at left tackle. But they aren’t in the position this time to spend on a big free agent left tackle, they have to try to improve the offensive line on the cheap through the draft. I couldn’t see Brown going to the Cardinals, his only other potential NFC West destination.
4. RT Jawaan Taylor, Jaguars
A team will overpay for Taylor, it won’t be the Rams.
5. C Jason Kelce, Eagles
Seems like it’s Eagles or retire for Kelce.
6. CB Jamel Dean, Bucs
In Dean, I think we’re seeing why teams will covet Jalen Ramsey on the trade market. Dean is good, not great, but he’s among the best options at cornerback who will change teams in 2023. Teams will be betting on the 26-year-old to be even better at his next destination, similar to maybe when Casey Hayward changed from the Packers to the Chargers once upon a time. The NFC West team that figures to be the most active in outside free agency is the Cardinals, in part because of their cap space, but also because as usual Arizona has a lot of needs.
The Cardinals could part with cornerback Byron Murphy and new head coach Jonathan Gannon may look to someone like Dean as a replacement. I don’t see the Rams going for Dean, even if they do trade Ramsey.
7. CB James Bradberry, Eagles
Case in point, Bradberry was one of the top corners on the market when he left the Panthers in 2020, made his first Pro Bowl with the Giants that year, was cut by New York after two seasons, and had a career-year with the Eagles in 2022. Now Bradberry is looking to cash in again but I wouldn’t be surprised if teams are skeptical of his impact on Philly’s defense—how much of it had to do with that ridiculously deep front-seven?
8. ILB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills
If the Rams made ONE big move in free agency, I made my case for it to be Edmunds. Rare is one of the top players at his position not only available, but just 24 years of age.
9. RT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers
San Francisco spent a top-10 pick on a right tackle, which should mean that McGlinchey had a high floor but he was mostly underwhelming over his five seasons. Still, he should have a busy market and become one of the top-paid right tackles in the NFL in free agency and it won’t be with the 49ers. They will need a new right tackle. Again, this is a place where maybe the Cardinals want to do something—they’re set to lose nearly their entire offensive line and start over with the exception of left tackle D.J. Humphries. But Josh Jones could take over at right tackle, so probably not. McGlinchey could maybe follow Demeco Ryans to the Texans.
10. S Jordan Poyer, Bills
Safety is a tricky position, sometimes you will see Pro Bowl players go unsigned for a long time because teams don’t always value them as much as they value themselves. There’s an expectation that this could be a deep draft class at safety and make teams hesitate before committing big money to safeties, even ones as good as Poyer, especially given that he’s coming on his 32nd birthday. Poyer has recently said that he wants to go to a state that “doesn’t take half my paycheck” so rule out California teams. Poyer is a really good safety but if he’s a free agent two weeks after the market opens, I won’t be surprised.
He’s not going to the Rams.