The LA Rams have a lot of work to do to prepare another NFL Championship run, or is it defense? In any case, the first step is to stick to the Rams Free Agency plan with the same precision as a general coordinating an attack.
NFL Free Agency technically does not officially open until 1:00 pm PDT on March 16, 2022, but NFL teams are authorized to begin negotiating with players on March 14th, as evident by all the NFL news coming out. There were some questionable contracts being handed out today, including that of the Jacksonville Jaguars agreeing to sign former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk to a four-year, $72 million deal.
In comparative terms, the LA Rams were relatively quiet. That is not to say that the team sat this one out. There were some deals in the offing, as well as a significant loss on both the offensive and defensive lines.
It starts at the line of scrimmage
The LA Rams were not completely inactive, as the front office did manage to sign a few of their own. Three so far, to be exact, and all offensive linemen. The first report was that of offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom, whose compensation was definitely in the range of starting left tackle, rather than handy-dandy swiss-army knife versatile backup. The deal has been reported as a three-year $40 million contract, which incentives to earn as much as $47.5 million.
Next up, the LA Rams extended starting offensive center, Brian Allen, with a three-year $24 million contract. While Allen did suffer injury in 2021, this contract ensures that the Rams offensive line will remain intact for 2022. And Allen is coming off his best NFL season, while still having plenty of upside potential to develop even further.
Finally, the team turned to backup center Coleman Shelton. Even though the team may have ensured his return with a one-year Qualifying Tender Offer, the team elected to commit to a two-year deal with Shelton. The result implies that the team plans to install Noteboom at left tackle, keep Allen at the center position, and slide Shelton to right guard where he will take over for outbound free agent Austin Corbett.
Paths parting ways with others
The LA Rams are making every effort to keep their offensive line intact, or at least to ensure that they have a veteran group of starters who can get right to it from the get-go in 2022. With any successful season, some players are bound to leave for greener pastures, meaning green in their bank accounts.
Case in point, starting right guard Austin Corbett, which PFF has graded his 2021 performance at 68.8. He is signing a new deal with the Carolina Panthers for three years and $29.5 million. For those of you who follow those sorts of things, that is a contract that will likely result in an awarded compensatory pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
And as I was writing this, interior defensive lineman, Sebastion Joseph-Day, agreed to terms with the cross-town rival, the LA Chargers. The terms of that deal work out to a three-year $24 million contract. And yes, that will also likely result in an awarded compensatory pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. If you are curious, the 2023 NFL Draft picks projections have been updated in our future draft picks summary.
Plenty left to do
The LA Rams still have a lot of work to do with the likes of extending wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr, veteran outside linebacker Von Miller. The team must also decide whether they will attempt to extend veteran defensive back Darious Williams and/or running back Sony Michel, among several others. Will the LA Rams make any moves outside of their existing roster? We talked earlier about the possibility of bringing in Allen Robinson. Since that time, the massive deal Kirk received from the Jaguars will surely compel Robinson to look for a substantial deal as well, and probably more than the LA Rams would be willing to pay.
The LA Rams may be interested in adding veteran help on the offensive line. There are viable options via free agency, such as Connor Williams, who PFF has rated the highest of the remaining guards. They will also need to get Von Miller and OBJ resigned as well. I believe the longer these negotiations go, the greater the odds of the LA Rams losing players to other teams for the 2022 season.
A lot will happen over the course of the next few days as well. Will the LA Rams rework new deals for quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and others? Will they be able to retain more of their own players? Will Andrew Whitworth retire? Will the front office potentially bring in some new pieces to retool the roster as they prepare for a run at another Super Bowl title?