7 players that make complete sense for LA Rams to extend quickly

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 4
LA Rams Free Agency
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Right now, the LA Rams have no money to spend, whether on free agency or simply to give a player a $100 Christmas bonus. But even as you read this, the front office is working feverishly to free up cash for the team.  That cash can be used very effectively in the Rams’ free agency efforts to extend key players on expiring contracts. So the organization is focused upon freeing up that cash.

Right now, indications are that the team will have new contracts in place for QB Mathew Stafford and DL Aaron Donald before the start of the new NFL year, which is less than two weeks away. I also anticipate the announcement of offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth soon as well. That should put the Rams into salary cap surplus territory.

So who should the LA Rams extend right out of the gate?  Well, ask two LA Rams fans right now, and you will get three opinions. Not only that, but we’ve gotten to the point where disagreement triggers the infamous cancel culture mechanisms. The goal here is not to align everyone’s opinion, but rather to pull those opinions out of the emotional knee-jerk reactions, and enter a more objective, and fundamental cost-analysis thought process.  What do we mean? Let’s examine our first free agent so you see what I mean

Inside linebacker

While the LA Rams may be facing the expiration of inside linebacker Travin Howard’s contract, extending him should be as automatic as they come. Howard falls into the category of Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA), and that means that the LA Rams need only make a minimum qualifying offer to ensure exclusive rights to sign Howard.

Howard may not have gotten a lot of playing time, seeing action in just 101 defensive snaps in 2021. But he made great use of that limited playing time, creating 21 tackles, three pass deflections, and one interception. He followed that up with a stellar playoff run. In the four games, he recorded 10 tackles, three more pass deflections, and the game-ending interception against the San Francisco 49ers to close out the game.

More. Los Angeles Rams: 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time. light

The LA Rams will need experience in the rotation at inside linebacker, and 6-foot-1 219-pound Travin Howard has excellent trooper-tested experience. His cost? The Rams can extend him on a one-year deal for 2022 at a minimal salary cost that will come in under $1 million. That is cheaper than drafting a rookie, so it makes complete sense for the Rams to come to instant terms with their veteran linebacker.