A crazy proven way to bolster the Rams pass rush without overspending

Right now, the Rams are getting veteran production out of rookie OLB Byron Young. Does it really make sense to spend more at the position in 2024?

Carolina Panthers,  Brian Burns
Carolina Panthers, Brian Burns / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages
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Do Rams need a veteran pass rusher?

Another topic that gets a great deal of discussion among Rams fans is a perceived need to trade for or sign a veteran pass rusher. But is that truly the way to go? After all, whether it's a trade or a free agent signing, the Rams will essentially be paying for their past performance, in hopes that the player can perform at that level in his new defense. And yet, is that really how it works? Let's examine some of the premier pass rushers added by the Rams in the past, and how well they performed against how much they were paid:

Player name

Year

FA, draft or trade?

QB Sacks

Tackles

Salary

Robert Quinn

2017

draft

8.5

32

$9.8 million

Ndamukong Suh

2018

FA

4.5

59

$14.5 million

Clay matthews

2019

FA

8.0

37

$5.5 million

Dante Fowler Jr

2019

trade

11.5

58

$12.0 million

Leonard Floyd

2020

FA

10.5

55

$10.5 Million

Bobby Wagner

2022

FA

6.0

140

$7.25 million

Byron Young

2023

draft

8.0

61

$1.04 million

Kobie Turner

2023

draft

9.0

57

$980K

As you can see by the table above, pass rushers can be found, but for a price. The average cost for an effective pass rusher who is relatively certain of putting up a minimum of 8.0 quarterback sacks in the Rams' defense is not cheap. Right now, if the front office wanted to target one of the hottest names in the NFL, the projected cost of that player starts at $18.0 million per year and climbs rapidly to and through $25.0+ million per year.

I cannot see the Rams agreeing to do that for several reasons.

I: For starters, I do not believe that the team's front office is prone to put so much money on the line for what that player might do in the Rams' defense. After all, whatever defensive snaps go to that player comes from an existing player. While that may be an upgrade at times, it will certainly put a damper on the development and progress of younger players on the roster.

II: The cost of adding an elite pass rusher is far beyond the Rams budget. Keep in mind that the Rams outright cut veteran OLB Leonard Floyd from the team, He had 9.0 sacks and 59 tackles for the Rams in 2022, and started all 17 games. He earned $16.5 million in 2022. He went on to sign for $7 million with the Buffalo Bills for one season, getting 32 tackles and 10.5 sacks in 2023. If he was viewed as expendable for the team in 2023, why would the Rams have a change of heart and do an about face to sign a new player who is a complete unknown?

III: The impact of signing a big-ticket free-agent at any position would be devastating to the Rams' projections of awarded compensatory picks in the 2025 NFL Draft. Any free agent outside linebacker signed by the Rams would immediately be an offset to any lost player to free agency and likely would count against the Rams' top free agent loss. That is something that I cannot see this team willingly taking a chance on. If the Rams do move towards a pass rusher, look for the team to explore a trade with a promising player entering the last year of his contract.