It’s the start of the football offseason, and that means free agency. The Rams don’t have that much money to work with currently, but with restructures can free up roughly 60 million. They kicked off the first day by establishing continuity on the O-Line, and there’s more to come. Follow this tracker to stay up to date on all Rams free agency moves with a breakdown for each signing.
Re-Signings and Additions
Joe Noteboom 3 years, $47.5m, $25m guaranteed
Noteboom got the biggest money out of the three lineman, and for good reason. In the last 2 years, he’s made 11 starts in place of Andrew Whitworth, and only given up 3 sacks. Along with that he gave up 0 sacks in the Bucs game while going up against Jason Pierre Paul. He’s started well in place of Big Whit, and the Rams payed him accordingly. You’d have to imagine this means Whitworth retires this year, and is replaced by Noteboom on the left side of the line. If that isn’t the case, I could see a possible move to guard to fill the hole left by Austin Corbett. Noteboom should be a young stud for the Rams to protect Stafford’s blind side.
Brian Allen 3 years, $24m
Allen went from one of the worst centers in 2019 to one of the best this past season. That can be seen pretty significantly in his PFF grade increase from 58🢂80. He had a great season this year and went up against some tough D-Lineman including Akiem Hicks, Deforest Buckner, Vita Vea, and Kenny Clark. The coaching staff has confidence in him as shown by his training camp improvement and the fact that Corbett slid to guard. The Sean McVay offense hinges on offensive line consistency and Allen certainly exemplifies that. LA boasted the highest pass block win rate as a team last season with 68% according to ESPN. Two lineman from the same draft class in 2018 will now end up starters on the Rams line next year.
Coleman Shelton: 2 years, $3.25m, $1.75 guaranteed
Coleman Shelton is the lesser known of this group of lineman, but has played a couple of different roles. He’s predominantly been a special teamer during his time in LA, but did start in place for Brian Allen at center. Shelton provides some good depth on the offensive line, and is likely to start at right guard in place of Austin Corbett this next season. Overall, a solid day to solidify the most important part of a football team, the trenches.
Matt Gay: Original Round Tender, $2.54m
This one was a no brainer. The Rams gave Gay the original round tender which costs $2.54m, the lowest of the restricted free agent tenders. The Rams can match another team’s offer, but the other team has to give up a 5th rounder to sign Gay. I don’t see why the Rams would let him leave, and I think that this is just a way to keep him on a cheaper contract, and pay him next season. Gay had a stellar season, posting some of the best kicker numbers in the league and making the Pro-Bowl. He served as the pillar of consistency on special teams, and should continue to do so now that Hekker is unfortunately gone. I’d also expect an extension soon, to lock up their best special teams player.
Travin Howard: Original Round Tender, $2.54m
Howard comes back to the Rams on an original round tender, which means a salary of $2.54m and a 7th rounder back if another team signs him. Howard has struggled with injuries during his time with the Rams, but has shown flashes, including the NFC Championship game sealing interception. He’s a player I’d expect to improve next year, with increased playing time if the Rams don’t sign another linebacker. If everything stays the same, I’d expect him and Ernest Jones to split time, and for him to fill Troy Reeder’s role.
Allen Robinson: 3 years, $46.5m, $30.7m guaranteed
This one was certainly a surprise. After playing on the franchise tag in Chicago last year, Robinson didn’t have great numbers despite years of good play before that. Robinson now will join a deep wide receiver room in Los Angeles with Robert Woods returning. It’s hard to see Odell Beckham Jr. be re-signed due to injury and the sheer depth of this receiving core currently. McVay does love his 11 personnel so each member should see some good action next year. LA makes yet another big move to run it back.
Brandon Powell: 1 year
The Rams return a key piece of their special teams. Powell was great for the Rams in his first year with the team, and a major upgrade from the rest of the returners in years past. He was one of two players to return a punt for a touchdown last year, and averaged 25 yards per return. Powell was a key piece in improving a subpar special teams unit last season and should continue to be their return man next year. As of now however, Tutu Atwell seems to not have a defined role on this team, and with Powell’s exceptional return ability, it doesn’t seem like punt returns will be it.
John Wolford: ERFA tender
Wolford will return in 2022 to back up Matthew Stafford. After signing with the Rams in 2019 to backup Jared Goff, Wolford started the final game of the 2020 season against Arizona notching a win. He appeared in 3 games this past season, mostly in relief of Stafford in the 4th quarter. Wolford went 1-4 for 5 yards and an interception, not the best performance from a backup. Wolford showed some promise however, and should continue to backup Matthew Stafford as long as he’s with the team.
Bobby Wagner: 5 years, $50m
Yet another star lands in LA. Wagner was rumored to have chosen the Rams as his prime landing spot and the deal finally happened. He’s the first dominant LB the Rams have had in the building since Cory Littleton left. Not only does this fill a need, but having Wagner mentor Ernest Jones should be just as valuable. The contract is a bit large for a 31 year old LB but I’m sure Snead structured it well for the future. With a star on all 3 levels of defense, this move beefs up an already good defense.
Riley Dixon: 1 year
The Rams found their replacement for Johnny Hekker. After being relased by the Giants, the veteran punter will now come to a team that shouldn’t be punting as much as New York. Dixon isn’t likely to be a long term replacement, but should be a decent option until they find someone for the long term.
Sebastian Joseph-Day: 3 years, $24m, $15m guaranteed (Chargers)
The Rams lose some of their depth in the trenches. SJD was having a solid season before his pectoral injury, and was doing a great job in the run game. He reunites with Brandon Staley and should help elevate a Chargers run defense that wasn’t great last season. Greg Gaines should easily replace him, but look for the Rams to add more depth at NT/DT in the draft, along with Bobby Brown.
Austin Corbett: 3 years, $29.25 million (Panthers)
Corbett was going to demand a big contract no matter where he signed. His versatility at guard and center as well as his high level of play over the past 2 seasons made him a valuable asset. The Rams did re-sign Coleman Shelton to possibly replace him, and there was no way all 3 linemen were staying. Look to Shelton to be the next man up with the Rams drafting some depth behind him.
Troy Reeder: Tender declined
Ernest Jones season has finally begun. Reeder wasn’t the best starter at linebacker for the Rams, and the coaching staff obviously believes Jones is ready to take over. I would still look out for a possible vet addition at LB, possibly Bobby Wagner or Myles Jack.
Andrew Whitworth: Retirement
This one was pretty much a guarantee after the Rams prioritized Noteboom. Big Whit is arguably the Rams’ best free agent pickup ever, and posted top numbers last year as the oldest tackle in the league. Whitworth now gets to ride off into the sunset on top as a Super Bowl Champ.
Johnny Hekker: Cut to save $2m in cap space, (Panthers)
It’s truly the end of an era for the Rams. Hekker was the Rams’ longest tenured player, and one of the only ones left from St. Louis. Not only did Hekker put up some of the best numbers as a punter, he also made special teams fun to watch with fakes. The Rams will now have some big shoes to replace at punter, I’d look for one in the draft rather than free agency. He now signs with Carolina, who hasn’t had a stable punter in a while, and will reunite with Austin Corbett.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: 1 year, $3.25m, $1m guaranteed (Texans)
Yet another pass rusher getting paid by the Aaron Donald effect. Okoronkwo went to his home town team on a pretty team friendly prove it deal. This feels pretty similar to Samson Ebukam last year. On the Rams, he was used mostly as a rotational pass rusher, something I think can be filled by Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins pretty well. I would expect the Rams to draft a pass rusher to add depth, as they like having a good rotational pass rush.
Darious Williams: 3 years, $30m, $18m guaranteed (Jaguars)
The Rams were fully prepared to lose Williams this offseason as he played on the RFA tender last season. His play declined pretty significantly from last year, and a fresh start from both sides was needed. He should slide into a starting role in Jacksonville which also happens to be his hometown. This leaves an obvious void at CB2 opposite Jalen Ramsey, something I don’t think Robert Rochell or David Long are ready to fill yet. I’d look for the Rams to draft some depth behind those guys and possibly sign a veteran corner.
Johnny Mundt: 2 years, $2.415m, $200,000 guaranteed (Vikings)
The Rams TE2 departs for Minnesota to reunite with Kevin O’Connell. After 5 years in LA, Mundt, didn’t put up stellar pass catching numbers, but was a force in the run game with his blocking. The Rams tried to sign him back on a similar deal to last year, but now he’ll join a Minnesota offense that needs some help at TE. The Rams are now left with Tyler Higbee, Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins, and Jacob Harris. I’d expect Blanton to have an increased role next year, and Harris to play more like a big wide receiver.
Von Miller: 6 years, $120m, $51.5m guaranteed (Bills)
This one wasn’t too much of a surprise. Miller was going to command a payday from either the Broncos or someone else, and he certainly got one. I think it was probably best for both sides to part, as Miller is aging, and will finish his contract with the Bills at nearly 40. An AAV of $20m a year is too pricy for the Rams, so I can understand why they let him walk. As I noted in Okoronkwo’s paragraph, I think Lewis and Hollins will fill in nicely next year at OLB, with some additional depth from the draft. This one was a pretty easy decision to make by Snead and co.
Robert Woods: Traded to the Titans for a 6th round pick in 2023
This one hurts a bit more than the rest. Robert Woods came to LA in 2017 as a part of the new regime under Sean McVay, and has helped with the culture change that brought LA back into the spotlight. This trade has been described as mostly for financial reasons which makes sense, as they can’t have 3 $12m receivers on the team. Essentially the front office chose Allen Robinson over Woods, due to his injury and cap hit. Logically that makes sense, but Woods’ contributions to the locker room and as a blocker in the run game were immense. I’d imagine this move was to free up some cap to sign someone else, as this big of a move shouldn’t be for nothing.