LA Rams lose their first unrestricted free agent, and this one will hurt

Sean McVay
Sean McVay / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

If you spent the past 24 hours waiting for the LA Rams free agency debut for the 2023 NFL season to be filled with free flowing cash and big name veterans, then you are likely not very encouraged right now. For all the hopes and aspirations for the LA Rams to get back on track with a solid step forward when the 2023 NFL Free Agency negotiating period opened at 9:00 am on Monday, March 13, 2023, the resounding silence with an occasion cricket chirp was a clear indication that the Rams will not be free wheeling and dealing this offseason.

Not all was lost this year, as the LA Rams did manage to extend a Qualifying Tender Offer to ERFA OLB Michael Hoecht. That ensures that at least he will be back for the 2023 NFL season. The same cannot be said for his teammate, DT Marquise Copeland, who has been an underrated contributor for the LA Rams defensive line. Rams rumors today suggest that the Rams will not be extending a Qualifying Tender Offer to him, making him an unrestricted free agent, albeit not eligible for consideration for awarding compensatory picks.

It's a time of tough decisions and tougher realities The LA Rams may or may not have found ways to accumulate a war chest of available salary cap funds for the 2023 NFL season, but so far the Rams have not spent a dime. Even the offer to Hoecht is a minimal one-year deal, which when placed in the framework of the Top-51 salaries, will have only minimal true impact.

LA Rams get booted by their place kicker

Perhaps to emphasize a point, the LA Rams stood by and allowed their Pro Bowl placekicker Matt Gay to be wooed into agreement with the Indianapolis Colts. While losing Gay in the 2023 NFL Free Agency market was not exactly unexpected, the truth of how quickly it occurred suggested that the LA Rams were not making much of an effort to make a competitive counter-offer:

Just like that, the Rams are in the market for a new kicker. That won't be fun.

If you need some positive news, I have saved the best for last. The reported terms of the Indianapolis Colts contract offer to Matt Gay are four years, $22.5 million, a record for kickers. Why is that good news? Based on comparative analysis, we believe those contract terms will qualify the LA Rams to be considered for an awarded Round 6 compensatory pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Of course, that means that the LA Rams will undertake another painful process of field testing and competition for new place kickers for the Rams roster. But the LA Rams do have a new ST coordinator on the coaching staff, Chase Blackburn, and it could very well be that the Rams want to ensure that he has hand-selected all special team specialists

This is just a first step, albeit you now have to wonder . . .
If the LA Rams were unwilling to extend Mr. Automatic, place kicker Matt Gay, to a new contract, who will the Rams front office be willing to bring back?

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Whatever you call this, one thing seems clear. This is the opposite of 2022's mantra: Run It Back!