How Will The Los Angeles Rams Replace Chris Long and James Laurinaitis?

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) runs the ball against Denver Broncos inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) during the second quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) runs the ball against Denver Broncos inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) during the second quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi /

The Los Angeles Rams made some pretty big moves Friday when they opened up $24-million in cap space by cutting James Laurinaitis, Chris Long, and Jared Cook. By doing so however, they also created needs at all three positions. With almost $60-million in cap space and the draft, the Rams will have the ability to bring in replacements, but just who will those replacements be?

Free Agency

We’ll start in free agency because it comes before the draft. While it is possible that these players dont hit free agency as they could re-sign, right now it is impossible to know for sure. For the time being, we’ll take almost everybody into account.

Because it is arguably the biggest need, linebacker is a good place to start. According to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, the Rams plan to slide Alec Ogletree to middle linebacker and then have Mark Barron play at the Will Linebacker spot. However, that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t need to get bigger there or at least add some depth.

A couple players to look at here are Denver’s Danny Trevathan, New York Jets’ Demario Davis, and Cleveland’s Craig Anderson. The big name here is Trevathan who at just 25 years of age had over 100 tackles on one of the greatest defenses of all time and won a Super Bowl. If the Rams want to add some good leadership and build a winning atmosphere, he is the way to go. Davis had a good season last year in New York while Anderson is 28 and actually played well on a pretty bad Cleveland Browns defense.

Moving on to defensive end, there are some options here, but it wouldnt be surprising if the Rams end up drafting one or stick with William Hayes. Looking at the potential market, Miami’s Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby, New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul, and then keep an eye on Oakland’s Aldon Smith and Dallas’ Greg Hardy.

Vernon and Shelby, while they struggled in Miami, that has a lot to do with the coaching there. That was a talented defensive line that simply underperformed. Vernon had 7.5 sacks last season and Shelby had 3.5. Jason Pierre-Paul is still a very talented player that probably won’t be back in New York next year. Lastly, Aldon Smith and Greg Hardy are talented, but troubled players. Smith is probably the more likely player to come to LA as the Rams have experience with him when he played in San Francisco and teams are going to want to stay away from Hardy who still hasn’t learned his lesson.

Lastly, at tight end, there are some good options out there. Ladarius Green, Coby Fleener, and Zach Miller would be some names to keep an eye on. Green may be unlikely, but he did play well in replacement for Antonio Gates in San Diego. He is more of a pass catching tight end, but unlike Jared Cook, he catches passes. Coby Fleener is a bigger tight end that can block on the line, and Zach Miller is a veteran player that is good catching the ball as well as blocking.


This is where the Rams will most likely fill their needs especially at linebacker and defensive line where this draft is especially deep. The Rams have done well in the draft on defense in the last couple of seasons and will need to do so once again this year.

This draft is especially deep at defensive end. The Rams have needs at quarterback and wide receiver, but if they can’t get one of the top guys at 15, defensive end is a good backup option. Some good options here are Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah, Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence, and Penn State’s Carl Nassib. Ogbah had 17.5 tackles for loss as well as 13 sacks. Spence is one of the best edge rushers in the draft, but had some off the field issues which makes perfect sense for Fisher and the Rams. If Hayes is the guy the Rams want to start this year, Nassib can start as a rotation guy while working his way up into the starting lineup.

Defensive end is probably a position the Rams can wait until day two to address. That’s because the Rams will have the opportunity to make their defense elite on day one at linebacker. Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith, UCLA’s Myles Jack, and Alabama’s Reggie Ragland are elite linebacker prospects. They are the top three prospects, but they have the ability to get the defense over the top. There is a chance that all three are gone by 15, especially Jack and Smith, Ragland however, is a viable possibility. This position all depends on what the Rams want to do. Jack and Smith would fill the outside linebacker spot, while Ragland is more of an inside linebacker prospect.

Lastly moving on to the tight end position. This is not a great position in this year’s draft as it is very possible that one a single one gets taken in the first round. Free agency may be the way to go here, but some players in the draft to watch are Ohio State’s Nick Vannett, East Carolina’s Bryce Williams, and Kansas State’s Glen Gronkowski. This all depends on what the Rams want, if they want blockers, Gronkowski and Vannett are their guys, if they want a pass catcher, then go with Williams. Williams finished last season with 588 yards and four scored while Vannett and Gronkowski all had less than 200. This isn’t a strong tight end class making free agency a better solution.

While the Rams lost good players in Long, Laurinaitis, and Cook, it is going to be possible to replace them. It won’t be easy, but these are decisions that all teams make and decisions all teams must get through. Defensive end and linebacker might be better to address in the draft while tight end will be better to address in free agency. Either way, this is going to be an interesting offseason.