I got no place else to go
Background – Inside linebacker Travin Howard (ERFA) entered the 2021 NFL season buried at a very deep position on the LA Rams depth chart. Ahead of him? Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder, and even rookie Ernest Jones. Coming back from a 2020 injury, Howard was looking at very little opportunity to play. But the Denver Broncos claimed Kiser off the practice squad, then traded for Kenny Young. Ernest Jones was injured. Like 2020, the Rams are down to two healthy inside linebackers.
Strengths – Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 219-pounds, Howard seems to fit that hybrid S/LB role that many defenses are converting to. While he has only played in two games, he seems to have a better understanding of where he needs to be in the defense. In 101 defensive snaps, he’s already accounted for 21 tackles and a key interception. He’s even deflected three passes.
Weaknesses – Howard is not a big rugged smack ’em if they test the middle of the defense sort of linebacker. He’s more of a defensive back playing at the linebacker position for right now. If the Rams are confronted with pass-centric offenses, that will work out. If not? Well, teams will run wild on the defense.
Team Impact – Howard is a solid backup. He contributes on special teams and has the ability to give the defense a different look in down and distance scenarios that result in obvious passing downs.
Estimated market value – The market for a backup inside linebacker runs in the $1-2 million range per year and seldom gets contracts longer than two years.
Projected team action – The LA Rams should be content to extend Howard for an NFL Minimum salary.
Most likely team to sign him – The LA Rams will extend him. He offers too much versatility and value to the team for them to allow him to walk. If he does move on, look for the LA Chargers, Green Bay Packers, or Detroit Lions to extend a modest contract to sign him.