Los Angeles had an up-and-down season. At times they looked like world beaters with both sides of the ball clicking. And other times they could not seem to get anything going on the offensive or defensive end. After a blockbuster trade landing them Matthew Stafford, the Rams find themselves a roster without many holes. This Rams offseason will focus on opening up cap space without making any game-changing cuts.
Roster Needs: LB, EDGE, C, CB
The Rams find themselves $25 million down in terms of cap space. That means important cuts and restructuring of contracts without hurting their Super Bowl aspirations is key. Trading Goff and multiple picks for Stafford just maybe the move to put the Rams over the offensive hump that they desperately needed. Considered one of the most underrated quarterbacks of the past decade, Stafford has only put up one season under 4,000 passing yards when playing all 16 games.
LA will be a great change of pace after taking a hit seemingly every play in Detroit. The extensions of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods give Stafford better weapons than he may have ever had. Rookie Cam Akers came along down the stretch to running for 131 yards in their playoff upset against the Seahawks. The offensive line was dominant too as Goff took the 6th least amount of sacks among quarterbacks playing more than 13 games in 2020. The only issue is re-signing center Austin Blythe. LA’s limited cap space means they may not come to terms on an agreement and will have a hole at the position.
If the Rams cannot come up with enough money, Alex Mack should be the replacement. The Falcons’ center will be a cheap option that can immediately fill Blythe’s role. The 12-year vet may be looking to finally get a ring and join McVay’s squad at a discount. All in all, Stafford is poised to make a big impact in LA.
Going into 2021, the Rams may have the worst linebacking corps in the NFL. Outside of Troy Reeder, Kenny Young and Micah Kiser struggled to contain the run and were porous in the passing game. This Rams offseason will not feature any big spending given their cap situation, but they are likely to address this need through the draft.
They still own their second-round pick despite trading away their first and third previously. Linebackers such as Chazz Surratt and Jabril Cox are likely to fall to the Rams there. Surratt is a former quarterback who is still learning the position. His 6-foot-2 frame and high motor make him a thumper to opposing running backs. If he can put it all together, he can develop into a versatile defender on all levels.
Cox is more of a safety with the build of a linebacker. His coverage skills are second to none and he can go step for step with slot receivers too. However, he has his shortcomings in stopping the run as he is not as physical as teams want, but given the offensive shift to more passing offenses, Cox can step into a starting role immediately.
The edge position is not as big a need, solely due to Aaron Donald. The interior penetrator forces offenses to double-team him every play. Even then Donald still gets to the quarterback amassing 13.5 sacks last season. The focus on Donald gives every other defensive lineman a significant opportunity to make a play. After doing very little in Chicago, Leonard Floyd joined the Rams and racked up a career-high 10.5 sacks. Floyd is an impending free agent, but LA should not pay up to keep him, rather should opt to go after another edge rusher who has all the physical tools but lacks production.
A cheap option like Vic Beasley Jr. is that kind of player. The former first-round pick’s production has fallen off since a ridiculous 2016 season where he garnered a league-high 15.5 sacks. Beasley has the quickness and strength to shrug off blockers but has been unable to do so. The seemingly washed Beasley could have his career revitalized by joining LA this Rams offseason.
Free agents John Johnson and Troy Hill were vital to the secondary that gave up the least amount of yards through the air in 2020. Cuts along the defense may give them enough cap space to re-sign either of the two. Michael Brockers, A’Shawn Robinson, and Kenny Young will free up $11 million in total, which may only be enough to bring back the slot corner Hill. If Johnson decides to walk, backup safety Taylor Rapp showed enough promise in his second season to step into the starting role.