The departure of Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin last offseason left the Los Angeles Rams defense with a lack of edge rushers. At mid-season, the Rams acquired Dante Fowler and he gave the defense some small semblance of an edge rush. The Rams are looking to fill the void once again in 2019. It won’t be easy with a number of top free agent edge rushers looking to stay with their respective teams. That said, here are five realistic options:
OLB Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers, 33
The recent youth movement from the Green Bay Packers opens up the possibility that Clay Matthews could find himself with a different team. Given his age, he is big name talent that the Rams could likely afford. “We’ll see…where it all fits and I end up,” Matthews said about testing free agency. He seems open to the idea of moving on.
The 6’3″, 255-pound veteran would be a perfect fit for the Rams and a homecoming for the former USC Trojan. Working the edge with Aaron Donald in the middle could benefit them both. Adding Matthews gives the Rams’ pass rush the balance and veteran presence they lack on the edge. If he doesn’t stay in Green Bay, expect the Rams to pursue him.
DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans, 26
The freakishly talented, 2014 No. 1 overall pick would be a great addition to the Rams defense. Playing equally well at both DE and LB, Clowney provides versatility the Rams could use. Often in the shadow of J.J. Watt, free agency will finally allow Clowney to shine as the number one edge rusher for another team. With three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and 24.5 sacks in the last three seasons, Clowney has a ton of potential. He would be a welcome asset to the Rams’ defensive front, but would come with a big price tag too.
DE/OLB Aaron Lynch, Chicago Bears, 26
Aaron Lynch has proven to be a worthy threat to any opposing offense. His 6’6″ frame is something the Rams have been lacking at linebacker. Lynch has performed at a high level and shown steady improvement in his 5-year career. He has the potential to become one of the better pass rushers in the league. After four years with San Francisco 49ers, he played for the Bears last year in the shadow of Khalil Mack. With the a solid inside rush from the likes of Aaron Donald, Lynch could be a tremendous acquisition for the Rams as he is just hitting his peak and could come at a moderate price.
DE Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit Lions, 29
Ezekiel Ansah is one of the most-feared pass rushers in the game. That said, he will likely come with just as scary of a contract. He’s also coming off a recent injury, which might limit his participation in offseason reps and possibly the start of the season. But Ansah’s talent would surely make up for any lost time and the injury might even lower his price a bit. If he were eventually to line up alongside Donald (and maybe his former teammate Suh), this could be a dangerous defensive front. Ansah could be the answer they need at defensive end for the foreseeable future. That is considering if they’re willing to pay for him.
DE Bruce Irvin, Atlanta Falcons, 31
Drafted by the Seahawks in 2012 in the first round (15th overall), Bruce Irvin has played for three teams in his seven-year career. Regardless of uniform or scheme, this 6’3” defensive end has been the model of consistency and one of the most underrated defensive ends in the league. His work ethic and constant ability to produce is something the Rams should consider to fill the need on this team for an every down defensive end. Irvin has shown himself to be a humble, yet hard-working player. His commitment and intensity would fit well with the team as a whole.
DE, Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles, 31
DE Vinny Curry, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 30
OLB Shaquil Barrett, Denver Broncos, 26
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