The 2023 offseason has been filled with a lot more subtractions than additions for the Los Angeles Rams.
LA opened free agency by releasing veterans Leonard Floyd and Bobby Wagner. They also traded Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins and are still searching for a buyer on Allen Robinson.
Then there are all the free agent losses:
- Matt Gay signed with the Indianapolis Colts
- Baker Mayfield will compete for a starting job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers instead of settling for a backup role. Greg Gaines also joined him in Tampa.
- Nick Scott joined the Cincinnati Bengals, the team he helped defeat en route to victory in Super Bowl LVI
- Taylor Rapp and David Edwards are now members of the Buffalo Bills
- Punter Riley Dixon will bomb kicks at Mile High with the Denver Broncos. Long snapper Matt Orzech signed with the Green Bay Packers. Return specialist Brandon Powell reunited with Kevin O’Connell and joined the Minnesota Vikings.
- David Long, Jr. signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.
- Chandler Brewer is headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The only free agent the Rams chose to bring back—at least so far— was interior offensive lineman Coleman Shelton, who voided his contract at the start of the offseason. Los Angeles also acquired TE Hunter Long as part of the Ramsey trade.
There are beneficiaries of all the changes on the existing state of the Rams’ depth chart, and there are some signs of individuals that may be falling out of favor. Here are the winners and losers after free agency but prior to the NFL Draft.
Cobie Durant, CB
Ramsey, Scott, and Rapp were mainstays in the LA secondary over the last couple of seasons, and without them Durant is now the best player remaining. The young corner had a fine rookie campaign, but his lack of size may prevent him from ever becoming more than just a nickel back or role player—this upcoming season will show if he’s truly a piece to build around.
COBIE DURANT PICK-6— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) December 26, 2022
Rams with a 50 burger on Christmas
Michael Hoecht, OLB
After releasing Floyd the Rams are in need of two edge rushers. While Hoecht is probably best utilized as a situational pass rusher, the way things are headed he’s probably inked into a starting role atop the depth chart. Los Angeles shouldn’t get desperate for help at OLB and draft for need, and giving Hoecht a lot of run in 2023 will allow him to show whether he can grow into a true NFL starter. He will need to improve at setting the edge in the run game.
Ernest Jones, MLB
Much was made last offseason when the Rams signed Bobby Wagner about how Wagner’s presence could help Ernest Jones take the next step in his career—instead the signing confusingly relegated a promising young player into a situational role.
This is Jones’ opportunity to prove that his time as an understudy to Wagner truly made a difference in his approach to the game.
Former Gamecock Ernest Jones with the big sack on third down #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/IfEOHcOOan— Mike Uva (@Mike_Uva) February 14, 2022
Tyler Higbee, TE
With Los Angeles dumping big name after big name to start the offseason, one name that flew under the radar was veteran tight end Tyler Higbee. Acquiring Hunter Long won’t threaten Higbee’s job in 2023, so he appears headed for another large role this season.
Joe Noteboom & Brian Allen, OL
Both Noteboom and Allen were on shaky ground to start the offseason, and it was questionable whether either would return. LA restricted the contract for both individuals, virtually locking them into a roster spot for 2023. It didn’t make much sense to give up on homegrown players after they disappointed last year, and now they get a chance to turn things around.
Brycen Hopkins, TE
While Long won’t threaten Higbee’s job, he could threaten fourth-year Brycen Hopkins’. The Rams wouldn’t have asked about Long if they weren’t high on him two years ago when he was eligible for the draft, and with only a year left on Hopkins’ contract it’s fair to think he’s not part of the future plans.
This team was so special because every player seized their opportunity. TE Brycen Hopkins is yet another great example, on the grandest stage. 47 yards on 4 receptions and critical block on 4th down for Cooper Kupp. Great performance & way to seize the moment @Itsbhop89! pic.twitter.com/8WYQLXAoY0— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) February 15, 2022
Matthew Stafford, QB
Stafford wanted away from the losing culture of the Detroit Lions, but a year after winning a Super Bowl in LA the Rams’ roster has begun crumbling around him. It’s a tough realization to think that Stafford could return from a season with multiple concussions and a spinal cord contusion to play on a version of the roster that the team doesn’t think is capable of competing for a Super Bowl.
The Rams are effectively calling 2023 a “set up year”. But at age 35, how many “set up years” does Stafford truly have left in him?
Kyren Williams, RB
There’s been zero mention of the second-year running back from Notre Dame this offseason, as much of the focus has surrounded a potential bell cow role for starter Cam Akers or the possibility the team could bring in help through the draft.
It was clear the Rams were high on Williams a year ago, but how quickly could he fall out of favor? He rushed 35 times for 139 yards (4.0 average) a year ago and battled multiple injuries over the season.
Kyren Williams a receiving threat out of the backfield #Rams pic.twitter.com/2H5qwr3Nyl— RAMZILLA (@elitster) March 21, 2023