Should the LA Rams kick the tires on Timmy Jernigan?

Should the LA Rams kick the tires on DL Timmy Jernigan?

The LA Rams defense must have strong defensive linemen, nimble linebackers who can cover the field from sideline to sideline, and versatile defensive backs who can slide in to fill multiple roles in the defensive backfield. The action all starts up front, where the Rams have starters Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and A’Shawn Robinson forming a formidable and powerful front three.  Behind them, the Rams will sort through Sebastian Joseph Day, Greg Gaines, and Morgan Fox.

Have the Rams done enough?  We identified the defensive line as the key to success on defense a month ago, and are sticking to our guns.  The defensive line is critical for new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley because that’s the foundation of solid run defense.  And run defense happens at the line of scrimmage, where the defense must shed blockers and prevent any running backs from getting past them.

Solid defense from solid rotation

That’s demanding work, and the physical exertion requires a steady stream of fresh players to keep the pressure on the offense.  That’s why we named three free agents who could help the LA Rams this year, one of whom is former Philadelphia Eagles DT Timmy Jernigan.  In our article, we identified 6-foot-2 295-pound Jernigan as a solid lineman who can play either nose tackle or defensive end for the Rams.  Unfortunately, he was scooped up with a tentative agreement with the Houston Texans.

Not a bad price for a player who can dominate on the defensive line.

No deal

Today, it seems that the deal fell through.  And with that news, the defensive lineman is looking for a new team to showcase his talent in 2020. After reaching an agreement “in principle”, the Houston Texans will be looking elsewhere.  Reports out later confirmed that Jernigan was medically cleared to sign with the Texans.

That medical clearance is very important, as Jernigan only played in 50 percent of eligible games over the past two seasons.  He is certainly affordable enough, as his contract was modestly priced. A one-year deal with only $1.25 million guaranteed is certainly a deal the Rams could afford.

Why Jernigan? Why now? Why not?

The LA rams did not scorch the earth during the heart of the NFL Free Agency season. While the Rams had plenty of financial reasons for remaining on the sidelines during much of the dealmaking, the team had opportunities to bring in veteran help if they wanted to do so.  So why now?  The Rams are about to cross over into their training camp. Adding a veteran who has seven years in the NFL is never a bad move, particularly if that veteran can play as well as a healthy Jernigan can perform.

Why Jernigan? He is a solid veteran, a player who can play both the run and the pass. He can work hard on the defensive line, sliding into a rotation to give Aaron Donald a break, but commanding defensive snaps because he is a physically dominating presence. Jernigan brings emotion to the defensive, raw savagery to elevate the play of everyone around him. The LA Rams cannot merely be cerebral on defense. Football is an emotional contest, and Timmy Jernigan is the Energizer bunny on the football field.