Will the LA Rams extend either of their free agent safeties?

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams have known that veteran DBs Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott were on expiring contracts in the 2022 NFL season. And the LA Rams knew the status of former safety John Johnson. In fact, the Rams knew the status of safety Eric Weddle when he opted to retire the first time. And then once more when he opted to retire the second time.

In all cases, the Rams did not extend Johnson or Weddle. For that reason, I do not expect the LA Rams to make an offer to either Taylor Rapp or Nick Scott to remain with the team after the end of this season. I mean, if the Rams can watch John Johnson III walk away via the NFL Free Agency market, is there any defensive back on the Rams roster right now who is irreplaceable?

So what is their market value? That has been projected by Spotrac.com for Rams Taylor Rapp and is currently estimated to be about $10 million per year. I believe that is a rather high estimate, but would not be surprised to see Taylor Rapp sign a multi-year deal for an average of $6.5 million per season.

Rapp has served his purpose for the Rams’ defense, as he was the pseudo nickel and dime package defensive back who would take up a spot in the box to defend on passing downs. That role has all but been eliminated with the arrival of ILB Bobby Wagner, so the chance that Rapp returns is unlikely. So far in 2022, Rapp has 78 tackles, two interceptions, and has broken up five passes. While Rapp has good statistics, he remains a very streakish defensive back. Sometimes he plays well, while other times he appears to be out of position and completely lost in coverage responsibilities.

Nick Scott is the more likely option

If the Rams opt to extend one of their two veteran safeties, Nick Scott is the more affordable of the pair. As such, he is less likely to trigger any calculations for a potential compensatory draft pick award for 2024. And he is simply a far better tackler. But even so, will the Rams cut the check to keep him around?  It would have to be a deeply discounted price because I believe Scott’s FMV to be around $3.5 million per year, and I don’t know that the Rams have that budgeted for 2023.

This is Scott’s first year as a starter, and he has 80 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and has also broken up five passes. Scott is still not completely refined in pass coverage, but he is not out of position or lost on plays as often as Rapp. He simply is fooled by some motion or caught looking at the quarterback’s eyes at times. In both cases, the Rams should look for a more complete pass defender to pair with Scott.

The Rams will welcome back a more pass-oriented Jordan Fuller, as well as second-year safeties Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake. While there is certainly room for, and a need for, more help at the safety position, I don’t know that the team believes that the safety position is a critical need for the 2023 NFL Draft. I do believe that at least one safety will be chosen, but most likely on Day 3.

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