LA Rams wisely want ILB Travin Howard to return for 2022
In the construction of any NFL team roster, perhaps some of the most important decisions have less to do with who is atop the roster in terms of salary, but rather who is among the least paid players on that roster. That is certainly an area where the LA Rams seem to do very well, and today’s actions confirm that they are applying the same due diligence at addressing the bottom of the roster as the top. Veteran inside linebacker Travin Howard is one such player.
Now, to be fair, I am a Travin Howard believer and think that he is a vital cog in the LA Rams defensive machinery. He was not heavily used, as the Rams inside linebacker position began very deep to start the season. But Howard made the most of his 101 defensive snaps, recording 21 tackles and one key interception.
He followed that up by starting two playoff games, playing 111 defensive snaps, and getting another 10 tackles and another key interception. Enough to be penciled in as a 2022 starter? Perhaps not. But certainly enough to return. And that is exactly what the LA Rams have planned:
For the second time this in the Rams Free Agency, the team is opting to extend an original round Qualifying Tender Offer. That is, the LA Rams will secure several protections in negotiating to extend Howard for one more year. They are:
Right of first refusal – Other NFL teams can negotiate a deal and submit it via an offer sheet. The LA Rams have the protected right to match the offer, and in turn, retain Howard on their roster.
Original Round – If the LA Rams cannot, or choose not to, match the terms on the offer sheet, and the competing team is able to sign ILB Travin Howard away from the Rams, that team must surrender a draft pick to the Rams of a value no less than the round of the pick used to select him. In the case of Howard, that would be a seventh-round pick to the LA Rams.
Howard has grown into a key defensive player for the LA Rams and hopefully will continue to grow for the team through the 2022 NFL season. Extending Howard may not eliminate the need to restock the roster at the inside linebacker position, but it certainly does eliminate the need to find an immediate starter in the 2022 NFL Draft.
So far, I rate extending Coleman Shelton and extending this QTO to Travin Howard as the two best moves by the Rams free agency takeaways so far.