Offseason transactions, both for the Los Angeles Rams and the rest of the league, have been historically hit or miss. The acquisitions of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and wide receiver Robert Woods provided the Rams with veteran locker-room leadership. They both are producing Pro Bowl-caliber seasons. Shoring up the offensive line and giving quarterback Jared Goff more weapons were the goals for the last offseason. This year, the goals be to find better fits for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense.
Nose tackle issues
The first thing that sticks out when watching the Rams defense is that there is no true nose tackle. Solving that problem will be issue No. 1 on the offseason agenda. The free agent class leaves a lot to be desired. Dontari Poe, currently playing on a one-year contract in Atlanta, is one intriguing name. Poe has graded out as an above-average defensive tackle for the Falcons this season, and he could be the player the Rams need to transform the defense.
Look for the Rams to attack the position in the draft as well. Washington Huskies nose tackle Vita Vea could be a name to keep an eye on. An enormous presence at 6-5 and 340 pounds, Vea could have easily been a first round pick in 2017. He stayed in school, which could pay off for the California native if he is able to land with the hometown Rams.
Re-signing our own
Two of the biggest free agents of the 2018 offseason will come from the Rams organization. Sammy Watkins and Trumaine Johnson both stand to sign big contracts, and the Rams may not be inclined to re-sign either one or both of them. Watkins and Goff have struggled to connect in the first round pick’s first season as a Ram. With his skills underutilized in this offense, Watkins and the Rams may decide to part ways.
The Rams could use the money saved by letting Watkins to re-sign Johnson, but the No. 1 cornerback position should feature a shutdown corner. That’s not what Johnson is at this point in his career. My guess is that Watkins re-signs, because there is a need for playmakers in the NFL, and the Rams have the cap space. Johnson will most likely move on, possibly reuniting with ex-Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in Cleveland.
Overall, it should be an interesting and event filled offseason. The Rams are an attractive free agent destination for the first time in years. Featuring a great young head coach in Sean McVay, and one of the best young quarterbacks in Jared Goff makes L.A. a more enticing place to play. Nevermind the weather and lifestyle of Southern California. McVay’s hiring made paid off with the Whitworth and Woods signings. Hopefully the huge year two jump that Jared Goff made will have the same effect.