5 free agents the LA Rams could sign today, and should

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams free agency Rams Roster Dee Ford
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Option IV: OLB Dee Ford

The challenge with teams that have signed outside linebacker Dee Ford to their roster is the sudden realization that he cannot deliver a full-time starter to any defense. But the LA Rams only need a rotational contributor, and he has enough left in his tank to deliver that.

Now, let’s not overlook the fact that the guy has been hobbled for the past two seasons by injuries, so any contractual arrangement with the guy would need to be heavily incentivized in the number of defensive snaps he plays, as well as production incentives.

Because he has played for the rival San Francisco 49ers for the past three seasons, he is more than familiar with the NFC West Division. That fact alone should place him on the short list of edge rushers to sign to the team.

A part-time role for a part-time player

But what of his injuries? It’s tough to overlook the neck and back injuries that have plagued the guy throughout his NFL career. But his release from the San Francisco 49ers in July 2022 was less about his ability to play football, and more about the fact that the Niners refused to continue to pay him to start, while he was only 126 defensive snaps for them per year. That is less than one in three defensive snaps.

Much like the Rams have discovered that the key to optimizing the performance of RB Darrell Henderson Jr. is to rush him from 10-15 carries per game, the Rams have the ability to slide Dee Ford into a rotation at the outside linebacker role that includes Leonard Floyd, Justin Hollins, and Terrell Lewis.

Right now, of the 120 defensive snaps played by the LA Rams, the most that any single outside linebacker has played is 94 defensive snaps by veteran Leonard Floyd. That is even more of a concern framed by the fact that his knee buckled under him for some unexplained reason during practice before the Rams’ Week 2 contest with the Atlanta Falcons.

Dee Ford still has the ability to get after the quarterback. Over the past three seasons, he has converted 378 defensive snaps into 9.5 quarterback sacks, 22 tackles, 24 quarterback pressures, and 10 quarterback hits.  That equates to the number of defensive snaps and tackles that OLB Terrell Lewis played in the 2021 NFL season alone, but with a significantly higher number of QB sacks and pressure.

The LA Rams need reinforcements at the outside linebacker position. Ford is available and productive. More importantly, he has just enough play in him to fill the Rams’ need at outside linebacker.  Best of all, the LA Rams could sign him today, and should.