III: Why OLB Michael Hoecht may be the next big Rams payday
There is not a lot of respect for outside linebacker Michael Hoecht, a guy who got a crash course in the midst of the 2022 NFL season, and then proceeded to start six games for the LA Rams, generating 4.5 quarterback sacks. That's a pretty solid debut for a guy who was a down lineman for all of his NFL career up to that point. And it's even more impressive considering that he had no offseason training to learn the position or make the type of mistakes that coaches can immediately correct.
The facts are that the LA Rams released all outside linebackers last season who were not rookies with the exception of veteran OLB Leonard Floyd. But almost as soon as the 2022 NFL season ended, the team parted ways with Floyd as well. That means, despite his lack of experience at the position, Hoecht is now the veteran NFL player in the LA Rams outside linebacker room.
Will Rams pay big for a restricted free agent?
Of course, regardless of how well he plays this year, he is projected to be a restricted free agent in the 2024 NFL Free Agency Market. That means that the LA Rams can secure the right of first refusal and perhaps a draft pick by extending a qualifying tender offer. So what are the projections for those offers? Per OvertheCap.com, we have the following projections:
- First Round - $6,838,000
- Second Round - $4,901,000
- Rights of First Refusal - $2,992,000
While some may expect the Rams to offer a bare minimum, there is a precedent for the Rams to offer top dollar for a restricted free agent (RFA) as the Rams tendered a first-round qualifying offer to ensure that the team would retain former Rams defensive back, Darious Williams.
So what level of production would ensure that the LA Rams tender a first-round qualifying tender offer for Micheal Hoecht? In my estimation, a season that has him at 50 percent or higher of the defensive snaps, 9.0 or more quarterback sacks, 60 or more tackles, and a completion rate that target his receivers at 80 percent or less. While they are stretch goals, I believe that they are certainly within reach for Michael Hoecht this season.