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What are the biggest needs on the 2024 Rams roster?

The Rams entire roster and how long they’re signed for, what needs remain?

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions
Running back Kyren Williams has been a beast, but needs a stablemate
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

With the Los Angeles Rams season over, fans are left with their thoughts to mull over how to build on the momentum of 2023. The roster building season begins now. It’s all on the table, trying to decide which pending free agents should be retained, what are L.A.’s compensatory draft picks, and who are the experts mock drafting to the Rams?

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I thought I would begin by chiming in on the Rams current roster and the contract status of those players. Currently, 50 players are under contract and the Rams are well under the cap with about $24 mil to spend on free agency. They have 16 unrestricted free agents and seven more on restricted designations.

As a reference, each player’s final contract year is in parentheses next to his name. Numbers are all according to overthecap.com, off of the Rams team page and I often rounded them off for easier reading. Finally, I only used post-June 1 cut/trade numbers twice because that is what L.A. is limited to using by NFL rules.

Quarterback (3 on contract)

Matthew Stafford (2026)- Here for the duration with good reasons. Most importantly, Staff’s play hasn’t dropped off with age and he’s still a top NFL quarterback. Financially, the dead cap is sky high for the next two seasons ($123mil), and the way his contract’s cap number is back-loaded, trading him away would be laborious, if not impossible.

Stetson Bennett (2026)- Probably a no-brainer to be released, the kid may have bigger problems than football. Not a lot of cap space to be saved, but certainly enough to draft/sign another quarterback. Most of the dead money is from his guarantee, about $1mil spread over three years against a cap savings of $2.5mil over that same period.

Dresser Winn (2025)- Reserve/Future signee. Can be released without residual cost.

Running back (2 on contract)

Kyren Williams (2025)- A stellar value on his rookie contract, will make about $1.1mil per on the final two years. He needs some help in the backfield though, injuries have caused him to miss 12 games over his first two seasons.

Zach Evans (2026)- Round 6 rookie contract that will pay a little over $1mil per season over the next three years, with about $200k in total dead money if released.

Wide receiver ( 5 on contract)

Cooper Kupp (2026)- One of the team pillars. Moving on from him is unthinkable and the ’24 dead cap would be insane ($47mil). Trade? Offers based on two consecutive injury-shortened years and his age might not be as rich as fans think. Keep him and let him retire as a Ram.

Tutu Atwell (2024)- In the final year of his rookie deal and set to make $1.9mil against $400k in dead money. While I think the Rams could use his speed and skills better, it’s very difficult to debate the “lack of production” argument. As much as I would like to see him succeed, his apparent inability to help out in the return game weakens his roster standing.

Bennett Skowronek (2024)- Versatile player who adds production on offense and special teams. Would save L.A. over $1mil if released.

Puka Nacua (2026)- Talk about your value, The Rams have Nacua contracted at $976k, $1.1mil, and $1.2mil over the next three years. If he backs up his ’23 performance, an extension should probably worked out.

Xavier Smith (2025)- Reserve/Future contract will save $800K if released. Uber-fast and brings kick return versatility.

Tight end (5 on contract)

Tyler Higbee (2025)- Won’t be ready to go until late next season, if at all. Seriously doubt the Rams let him go before time to rehab and see what he’s got left in the tank. On March 18 his ’24 salary and ’25 roster bonus become guaranteed.

Hunter Long (2024)- Came to L.A. on the Jalen Ramsey deal. $1.3mil is not a lot for a tight end, but he spent 2023 just like he did his first two seasons at Miami, out injured or recovering from injury. Zero dead money if released.

Davis Allen (2026)- Odds-on favorite to be TE#1 next year is on a Round 5 rookie contract, paying about $1.2mil per for three more years. Can Allen stand up to the weekly wear and tear of a starting role?

Nikola Kalinic (2025)- Reserve/Future contract will save $915k if released. Rugged, former CFL player, tight end room will be up for grabs.

Miller Forristall (2025)- Reserve/future contract will save 985k if released.

Offensive line (10 on contract)

Joseph Noteboom (2024)- Will he finish out his Rams contract? A post-June 1 cut designation would net L.A. $15mil in cap savings, but ‘Boom has a $5mil roster bonus due on March 18 that would neutralize 13 of it.

Rob Havenstein (2025)- Old reliable at right tackle. Over the past few years, has had as much reworking of his contract as a plastic surgeon on a Hollywood dowager. A keeper for now, but a tough decision in two years, on whether, or not, to offer another contract at age 34.

Brian Allen (2024)- Took a $3mil pay cut in ’23 in exchange for guaranteed money. Many fans would like to see him go and while there isn’t a huge amount to saved right away, there is a substantially bigger savings number with a post-June 1 cut or trade. The Rams need to get the center situation worked out before making any rash move.

Coleman Shelton (2024)- Shelton has been a solid value since working into a starting role two years ago. It has been widely reported that he had a clause in his contract that would grant him 2024 free agency for playing 55 percent of snaps in ’23, which he easily passed. If he goes for greener pastures elsewhere, there’s an important hole to fill.

Steve Avila (2026)- The sweetness of three more seasons on his rookie deal at about $2.5mil per year. The only question is whether, or not, is to extend him early. Played 100 percent of offensive reps.

Zachary Thomas (2024)- Resereve/Future contract will save $985k if released. Thomas has a chance to cement a future in L.A. in the Cincinnati Bengals game, but that day, defensive end Trey Hendrickson took him to school and stole his lunch money.

Warren McClendon (2026)- Round 5 rookie contract pays about $1.1mil per, with dead money of $366K. Saw 32 reps on offense in six games.

A.J. Arcuri (2025)- Reserve/Future contract will save $915k if released. Saw action in 2022 when offensive line fell apart, on PS last year.

Grant Miller (2025)- Reserve/Future contract will save $800k if released.

Logan Bruss (2025)- Reserve/Future contract will save $800k if released. Former L.A. #104 draft pick has struggled to come back from major injury and adjust to the pro game.

Mike McAllister (2025)- Reserved/ Future contract. Saves $880k if released. Had a promising preseason in ’23 and depending how things shake out with Shelton and Allen, could be competing for a starting role.

Defensive line (5 on contract)

Aaron Donald (2024)- AD’s farewell? If so, thanks for the memories. If not, How do you value him at this stage of his career for another contract. Let him retire as a Ram.

Bobby Brown (2024)- In the final year of his rookie deal, making $1.25mil against only $189k in dead money. 313 snaps on defense was his best total in three years. I don’t know if he flashing potential or just inconsistent as a player.

Kobie Turner (2026)- Another strong rookie contract performance with three more years to look forward to. Again, if he backs it up with another good season, should L.A. try to extend him early?

Desjuan Johnson (2026)- Rookie contract. Mr. Irrelevant will average a little under $1mil per over the next three years, with $120k in dead money if released.

Cory Durden (2025)- Reserve/Future contract will save $915k if released. Saw action, 44 defensive snaps over four games as a UDFA in ’23.

Edge (5 on contract)

Byron Young (2026)- I think to a point, his season was over-shadowed by the play of the other Rams rookies and his performance should be considered solid. He was considered a consensus “project” player with plus traits and played quite similar to that in 2023. Another rookie contract bargain at $1.6mil per for three more years.

Nick Hampton (2026)- Round 5 rookie deal pays averages a little more than $1mil per with about $500k in dead money.

Keir Thomas (2024)- Practice squad to active roster in consecutively in first two years as a pro. Played in eight games each year and logged 165 snaps on defense and 133 on special teams. Saves $985k if released against $450k in dead money.

Ochaun Mathis (2026)- Traits-based Round 6 rookie will earn a little over $1mil per over the coming three seasons, with $280k in dead money. Played in eight games with 97 defensive snaps.

Zach VanValkenburg (2025)- Reserve/Future contract will save $915k if released. Played in nine games with 97 defensive and 56 special teams reps. Had a sack, two QB hits, and a tackle for loss.

Off ball linebacker (3 on contract)

Ernest Jones (2024)- There’s much discussion on whether to extend Jones. While I certainly appreciate his value at the $1.2mil average of a rookie deal, paying four/five times that (or more) certainly dilutes it considerably. Getting top dollar means being able to be a three down beast. What Jones lacks in pass coverage is not made up by blitzing him a lot.

Jake Hummel (2024)- Made the opening roster in each of his first two seasons as an undrafted free agent. Played over 500 snaps in ’23. Saves $985k against $1600 dead money if released.

Olakunle Fatukasi (2024)- Reserve/future contract will save $915K if released. Saw ST action in Rams season finale win over the SanFrancisco 49ers.

Safety (4 on contract)

Quentin Lake (2025)- Will make just about $1.1mil in each of the final two years of his rookie deal against $66k in dead money if released.

Russ Yeast (2025)- Enters third year of rookie contract, will make a bit over $1mil per season against total dead money of $58k. His defensive snaps went up from 113 as a rookie to 802 last year.

Jason Taylor (2026)- Rookie contract will pay Taylor a little over $1mil per year over the next three years, with $150k in dead money if released.

Tanner Ingle (2025)- Reserve/Future contract. Saves $800k if released.

Cornerback (5 on contract)

DeCobie Durant (2025)- Possible starter or cut/trade candidate? Will make over $1.1 mil in each of the last two years on his rookie deal and would save nearly $2mil if released.

Derion Kendrick (2025)- In year three of his rookie deal and will make a bit over $1mil in each of the final two. A touch under $100k of dead money if released.

Shaun Jolly (2024)- On second year of Reserve/Futures contract, having bounced between the active roster, practice squad, and Injured Reserve List. Saves $985K if released.

Tre Hodges-Tomlinson (2026)- Round 6 rookie contract will pay out over $1mil per year over three seasons, with $300k in dead money. Played in 15 games, 45 reps on defense and 78 on ST.

Cameron McCutcheon (2025)- Reserve/Future contract will save $800k if released.

Special teams ( 3 on contract)

Punter Ethan Evans (2026)- Round 7 rookie contract will pay out a little over $1mil per year over the next three, with $160k in dead money if released. Evans had an above average rookie year, there are things to work on, but the stage wasn’t too big for him.

Long snapper Alex Ward (2025)- Will average making a little under $1mil per over next two seasons. Less than $5k in dead money if released.

Placekicker Tanner Brown (2025)- Reserve/Future contract saves $800k if released. Spent ’23 camp as Rams primary kicker, but struggled in preseason and was released in final cuts.

Where to go from here?

First the Rams should make a concerted effort to re-up their own key free agents. Kevin Dotson and Coleman Shelton would be a good start. Maybe Carson Wentz, if he’s willing to take QB#2 money. On the restricted designation, Michael Hoecht, Jonah Williams and Alaric Jackson can all be brought back at fair prices. While not stars, they have proven to be solid rotational players. I’m all about continuity, so if there’s a couple more bottom of the roster players that will come back at the league minimum, sure.

By looking at the roster, a few needs stand out.

On defense, bring us a playmaker! Not particular about where, just somebody that can make a difference. The whole secondary certainly needs capital investments on upgrading, both from a veteran and some more youth. An off-ball linebacker with coverage capabilities and/or a wrap-up tackler. Finally, veteran presence at edge to be able to mentor the Rams stable of young edge players.

On the offensive side, the line always needs fresh blood and with three possible free agent departures, 2024 is no different. Another running back to take some of the load off of Kyren Williams and/or pick it up if he goes down. Lots of bodies at tight end, but Higbee’s all-around game will be tough to replace, I’d be looking to add a veteran. Get a bonafide backup QB, it looks foolish and silly to put your eggs in one basket, get someone with no history of capability to hold it and then fire him after he drops it.

It is imperative that Les Snead, Sean McVay and the whole braintrust to mirror last off season to build on the final half momentum and it all starts with building out the roster.