Rams’ Offseason Takes One Step Forward, Two Back
Just when you think you can gauge the Los Angeles Rams’ offseason, they make a move that contradicts your thoughts.
The Sean McVay and Les Snead are almost three months into the new era in Los Angeles Rams football, and it has been a rocky road at best. Although, the outcome so early in the game comes as no surprise.
What comes as a surprise is the team’s ability to operate as they had under Jeff Fisher. Making both solid and puzzling moves in the free agency period. For instance, the Rams finally have a solid answer at left tackle thanks to the signing of Andrew Whitworth. The offensive line looks even better now that Ryan Groy signed his RFA offer sheet (two years/$5 million, $3.5 million).
Groy stepped in for the Buffalo Bills after their starting center went down with an injury. In six games, Groy raised plenty of eye-brows and made a name for himself as a top free agent for offensive-line-needy teams like the Rams.
Then, the Rams offer a boatload of money to Robert Woods, the third-best receiver on the Buffalo Bills. Woods, who is hardly worth his contract (five-years, $39 million), now joins a hardly improved receiving corps. Kenny Britt signed with Cleveland, leaving LA without a leading receiver and a handful of unproven, young receivers.
The Rams have around $80 million invested in two receivers; Woods and Tavon Austin. Like Woods, Austin is a receiver many thought was not worth his contract. One year in the new deal, and many are being proven right by their low expectations for Austin.
Snead, however, dumped a few players in the hopes of clearing up more cap space. Lance Kendricks, Eugene Sims, and Tim Barnes the names on the chopping block, all of which were good cuts.
While hard-working and eager to step in any role asked of him, Barnes was not a talented blocker. He was inconsistent at center and aside from a couple of fumble recoveries in Seattle in 2015, there was not much to write home about. Kendricks was also inconsistent, either being a great hit or a face-palm miss. His biggest issue was easy drops that wiped away huge would-be gains for the offense.
Sims was a casualty due to him not passing a physical. He was a solid depth player, but as part of the business, he needed to be cut.
But then the Rams trade William Hayes and a seventh-round pick to Miami for a sixth-round pick. Hayes was a solid starter. While he was not racking up double-digit sacks, he was still a solid outside lineman and could keep the contain.
The last of their moves, for the time being, was a two-year deal for Kayvon Webster, a special teams ace and defensive back for Denver. The deal is worth $8 million, with the possibility of being worth $12 million thanks to incentives. But the signing is one small step in the long journey to build up their defensive back group.
Trumaine Johnson, who signed his franchise tag tender, is reportedly being shopped and there are reported that T.J. McDonald will not be back with the Rams in 2017. The safety and corner positions should have been high on the list for the Rams this off-season. So unless their plan-of-attack is to snag hidden gems in the draft for those two spots, the defense will be in big trouble.
While Webster is a great special teams player, he was buried on Denver’s depth chart and is not a proven starter. The Rams have other starters at corner on their team, but they are pedestrian at best with the exceptions of LaMarcus Joyner. The former Florida State man proved he was a great nickel corner.
Many were expecting a great page turn for the Rams with Sean McVay as the head coach. But the team still runs through Snead as far as personnel goes. While the two are working together, with Snead still in the mix, the echoes of the previous administration will likely remain until proven otherwise.