The 2019 offseason is approaching fast. Will this year play out similar to be as exciting as last offseason? Les Snead and the Los Angeles Rams front office took the “go all in” approach in 2018. It worked despite some bumps in the road after the bye week. The 2019 offseason officially begins March 13th, at 4:00p.m. ET. With a Super Bowl window for L.A. still wide open, I assume Snead will do whatever necessary to ensure the Rams make another deep postseason run.
None of the pending free agents for the Rams are really a candidate for either tag. So don’t expect anything to happen here. The time frame to get those done is February 19th-March 5th. Snead and the front office will be paying close attention to see what the other 31 teams do. There are some talented players with expiring contracts who could potentially be available for L.A. to go after if their prior team chooses not to tag them.
Clearing cap space
After spending a good amount of cap space last offseason, the general consensus is the Rams would have very little to spend this offseason. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Currently the Rams have approximately $29.8 million in cap space and could clear more space to gear up for the opening of free agency. Rams Talk writer Steve Rebeiro explains the cap situation in this article here.
Should I stay or should I go (Retire)
The Rams are anxiously awaiting starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth and starting center John Sullivan to announce their respective retirement decisions. Both are currently under contract for one more season, but rumors have swirled that both may be considering hanging up their cleats. The taste of just missing out on a Super Bowl victory is enough to bring back Whitworth in my opinion, giving the Rams another year to find out if Joseph Noteboom is the future or not. Sullivan most likely will not be back, he is visibly the weak link on the offensive line and there just isn’t much left in the tank. I’d consider his departure an addition by subtraction. Time to fill that role with some youth by way of the draft or via free agency.
Our own free agents
As it stands currently, the Rams have 16 pending free agents four of which are restricted. Here’s who I predict will remain in horns and who won’t.
- Cory Littleton- tender
- Troy Hill- tender
- Malcolm Brown- tender
- Blake Countess- tender
Now these players will all be given a specific draft round tender. The team that tries to sign them would give up that draft pick if the Rams decide not to match the offer. Chances are no one will be willing to surrender draft capital to sign these players. So they will remain on the team for at least another season.
- Ndamukong Suh– Re-sign, his dominance in the playoffs cannot be overlooked.
- Dante Fowler– Re-sign, the jury is still out on him, he’ll test the market but will ultimately take a short term “prove it” deal in L.A.
- C.J. Anderson– As great of an impact Anderson had filling in for Todd Gurley, ultimately we need to let him walk. Malcolm Brown was good enough prior to getting injured.
- Rodger Saffold– Re-sign, keeping the offensive line in tact is crucial to sustain success. Saffold solidifies the guard position on the left side for a couple more years.
- Lamarcus Joyner– After having a great first season under Wade Phillips, year two didn’t go so well. Time to find Phillips another stud safety to pair with John Johnson III.
- Sam Shields– Not exactly what everyone had hoped for this past season. He made a few nice plays on special teams but other than that was mostly non factor playing DB. Great comeback story but it doesn’t continue in the horns.
- Sean Mannion– Goodbye, its time to find a better back-up. Need I say more?
- Matt Longacre– Let go, there’s a young player out there who can fill this role a lot better.
- Jojo Natson– He’s flashed some great return abilities, will be brought back.
- Dominique Easley– Decimated by injury his entire career. He just hasn’t been able to stay on the field, gone.
- Ethan Westbrooks– Time to move on.
- Ramik Wilson, Bryce Hager– Keeping for depth, both signed to minimum deals.
Free agency frenzy begins
C Ryan Groy, Buffalo Bills, 28
The Rams attempted to sign Groy during the 2017 offseason. They offered a 2-year, $5 million deal before Buffalo matched the offer sheet. I suspect the interest is still there, should be a solid replacement for Sullivan at least until Brian Allen is ready to step in.
ILB C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens, 26
The Rams finally get their run stopping inside linebacker. C.J. Mosley will be a target for many teams but ultimately decides to play in L.A. Pairing him with Littleton in the middle should make Phillips’s linebacking corps a strength of the defense. Mosley made four straight Pro Bowls appearances and won’t come cheap. The Rams will have to commit to him long term.
DT Johnathan Hankins, Oakland Raiders, 26
He’s had a strange couple of years after being a pretty solid player with New York Giants. He signed a 3-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts only to be cut after one season. He signed with the Oakland Raiders during the 2018 season and played solid in both run and pass defense. Signing him to another 1-year “prove it” contract to line up next to Suh and Aaron Donald would be a good move for the 26-year-old.
FS Tre Boston, Arizona Cardinals, 26
After short stints with the Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals, Boston is looking for new home yet again. A productive year in Arizona even with missing two games he hopes to garner a bit more interest on the open market. His price tag shouldn’t be too steep but it will definitely cost more than the $1.5 million he signed for last season.
ILB Mark Barron
Cutting Barron saves approximately $6 million in cap space with about a $2 million dead cap hit. Barron has been a liability at times in run support and has dealt with nagging injuries the last couple seasons. Moving on should come as no surprise.
DT Michael Brockers
A long time Ram but his time has come to an end. After being injured in the 2017 playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, Brockers just hasn’t looked the same ever since. Cutting him saves around $10 million in space, giving Los Angeles some room to find a more productive player. Look for Les Snead to seek a possible trade before releasing him.
WR Michael Thomas
Spent the season on injured reserve. Keeping him on the roster seems almost unnecessary with the depth at wide receiver.
Not necessarily, its hard to top all of the trades that came prior to the start of last years free agency. I think Snead decides to keep what picks we have and drafts a young stud at pick 31. Trading premium picks for players another year just doesn’t bode well for sustaining long term success. Although we are talking about a GM who is clearly not afraid to make a move, I guess anything is possible. We shall soon find out.