The Los Angeles Rams’ 2018 season was a memorable one. The roster did a great job, but free agency looms and some players may be gone. That’s the business of the game. Let’s take a look at the pending free agents of 2019:
Unrestricted Free Agents
DT Ndamukong Suh
2018 Salary: $14,000,000
This is tough decision since Suh’s season had mixed results. The playoffs demonstrated how much of dominant force he is still but he disappeared at times during the regular season. Suh coming back looks great on paper, but it’s difficult to justify a $14 million contract with just 59 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Expect to see less of Suh unless he takes a pay cut, but that’s not likely though.
FS LaMarcus Joyner
2018 Salary: $11,287,000
Joyner impressed in 2917 and the Rams used the franchise tag last season. That said, he didn’t perform like an $11.3 million safety. He needed to step up in the playoffs and proved to be the weakest part of the secondary. Still, he has a reputation in the league as a good safety option and will fetch a hefty price. Expect to see Joyner walk with general manager Les Snead to continue discovering talented safties.
OG Rodger Saffold
2018 Salary: $6,269,447
The Rams offensive line played well in 2018, and part of the reason was Saffold. Recently, Saffold told media that he’d consider taking a pay cut; how much of a pay cut is not known. Teams are always looking for talented offensive linemen and are usually willing to offer big money. Saffold isn’t young anymore and is currently 30 years old. All of that considered, I believe the Rams will retain Saffold’s service considering he isn’t offered a ridiculous contract elsewhere.
DE Dante Fowler Jr.
2018 Salary: $5,872,563
Fowler’s time with the Rams was limited but he did make an impact at times. He wasn’t overly impressive, but his potential and some of his gameday film will almost certainly draw the attention of many teams. Personally, I’d love to see him back, but I think he will cost too much and will likely be in a different uniform.
DT/OLB Dominique Easley
2018 Salary: $1,850,000
The Rams could have used Easley this year. They could have used him last year too. The point being is that it’s hard to keep a guy on the roster when he can’t seem to stay healthy. The fact that he is only 26 years old is intriguing despite the injuries. I would expect the Rams to make an offer if he’s willing to sign for around the same price.
OLB Matt Longacre
2018 Salary: $1,698,438
I think the Longacre experiment is dead, buried and fossilized at this point. How do I know? Remember Fowler from earlier in the list? Longacre is responsible for the midseason trade. Let’s move on, shall we?
DE/DT Ethan Westbrooks
2018 Salary: $1,500,000
Depth is always good. Westbrooks returning in a backup role would be fine considering his familiarity with the defense. That said, I wouldn’t lose sleep over losing Westbrooks in the offseason to bring in some new blood.
CB Sam Shields
2018 Salary: $ 1,004,999
Shields, 31, is an aging veteran, but was a serviceable backup. The Rams will likely look for depth in the draft and having a veteran around isn’t a bad thing. Expect Shields to be back if he doesn’t retire.
QB Sean Mannion
2018 Salary: $812,724
Ok I admit it, I supported Mannion at one time. Jared Goff clearly won the “QB battle.” The few opportunities Mannion did receive amounted to nothing. It’s safe to say that the Rams can look elsewhere now.
RB C.J. Anderson
2018 Salary: $790,000
Anderson is without a doubt the biggest surprise of 2018 for the Rams. I’d love nothing more than to see Anderson in a Rams uniform next season. The Rams will attempt to sign him, and I’m sure Anderson will listen. But other teams will offer much more and will win his services.
ILB Ramik Wilson
2018 Salary: $750,000
Depth continues to be a huge concern at linebacker entering the 2019 offseason. Wilson may not have been the answer as a starter but is a decent backup. I can see the Rams willing to bring him back with a similar contract.
ILB Bryce Hager
2018 Salary: $588,035
Originally drafted in 2015, Hager hasn’t contributed much of anything. He occasionally makes decent plays on special teams coverage. I wouldn’t oppose if the Rams brought him back, but I think the Rams should start fresh with someone else.
Restricted Free Agents
CB Troy Hill
2018 Salary: $705,000
I’ve been critical of Hill’s performances in the past, and a few times in 2018. Although, he actually came in handy to replace an awful Nickell Robey-Coleman. No NFL team can have too many good cornerbacks, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Hill is offered a bigger contract from another team. Expect the Rams to retain Hill if another team doesn’t overpay for him.
RB Malcolm Brown
2018 Salary: $630,000
Before Brown’s season-ending injury, I didn’t think the Rams would be able to bring him back. The injury will diminish his overall value on the market. Brown is a must-sign if they cannot bring back Anderson.
ILB Cory Littleton
2018 Salary: $545,000
We will miss the days of having a quality linebacker for this cheap. But, Littleton being a restricted free agent works in the Rams’ favor. This means that teams will make him an offer but the Rams can match it. This will at least minimize his contract to an extent. Littleton will likely be back next season.
DE Morgan Fox
2018 Salary: $495,000
Fox is an extra body on the roster and really doesn’t contribute much. It would be understandable to bring back a reserved player for familiarity purposes, but that would be the only reason. Nothing would be lost if the Rams opted to look for more competition.
Exclusive Restricted Free Agents
KR/PR Jojo Natson
2018 Salary: $555,000
The Rams invested a lot in Natson after cutting Pharoh Cooper mid-season. Natson did a great job filling in the role of a returner, and it’s necessary to bring him back. Negotiations should be simple since the Rams will have first dibs on Natson. I’d be surprised if he isn’t back this season.
CB Dominique Hatfield
2018 Salary: $555,000
Hatfield serves primarily for depth purposes. He usually makes decent plays during the preseason and we hardly see him again after that. Keeping him or bringing in younger talent is fine with me.
S Blake Countess
2018 Salary: $540,000
Countess will occasionally see in-game action during the regular season and has mixed results. My primary interest in retaining Countess is for punt returning purposes. It shouldn’t be too expensive to keep him anyways.
CB Kevin Peterson
2018 Salary: $510,000
Peterson showed some promise in 2017 to where he may have contributed in 2018. Unfortunately, he sustained a season-ending injury before the season began. I’d be surprised if the Rams didn’t at least invite him to camp and compete for a roster spot.
WR KhaDarel Hodge
2018 Salary: $480,000
The Rams are stacked at receiver. Hodge impressed many during the preseason and had some in-game action during the regular season. Considering he found a spot on the crowded roster, he deserves to come back and shouldn’t cost too much.
OLB Garrett Sickels
2018 Salary: $480,000
Sickels initially signed to the practice squad in 2017. His 6’4″ frame may have been a welcomed addition in 2018, but suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason. It may be worth inviting him to camp to compete for a spot on the roster.