Contenders: Rams trade for Panthers' OLB Yetur Gross-Matos
It's no secret that the LA Rams need help on the defensive side of the ball. While it is true that the Rams dominated Seattle defensively, particularly in the second half, fans should not be distracted by the numbers on the stat sheet.
Keep in mind that both Seattle Seahawks starting offensive tackles exited the game in Week 1 against the Rams due to untimely injuries, which in turn allowed the inexperienced and young Rams pass rushers to appear to be a dominant force.
Of course, LA Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald will always eat, at least when he is not triple-teamed as was the case against the San Francisco 49ers. But overall, the edge position on the LA Rams defensive front has not lived up to expectations. The position is still particularly weak beyond the rookies, as edge rushers DT-turned-OLB Michael Hoecht and second-year OLB Zach VanValkenburg posted dismal grades from PFF in Week 1 with grades of 26 and 31 respectively. So what can the LA Rams do?
Shopping list: Panthers pass rusher
The LA Rams could cut a deal with the Carolina Panthers for a promising young pass rusher. No, not Brian Burns, as that ship has sailed. But perhaps the Panthers would listen to trade inquiries over their other young pass rusher, OLB Yetur Gross-Matos, who is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract.
Adding the 25-year-old Gross-Matos would significantly bolster the Rams pass rush and he would benefit from the Aaron Donald effect. Beyond that, even in his fourth NFL season, he would bolster the level of play for the Rams edge rushers simply by being the most experienced player at the position
Last year, he had a career high 54 tackles, 2.5 sacks with 3 fumble recoveries. These numbers are not the greatest by any means, but given the opportunity to play alongside arguably the greatest defensive lineman in NFL history, he could see much larger production. The Rams have a history of taking good pass rushers and propelling them to career-high NFL seasons.
The Rams should be able to acquire Gross-Matos for nothing more than a 2024 5th or 6th-round pick. As we noted before, Gross-Matos is in the final year of his rookie contract, which means that he will only affect $1.6 million of the Rams' current cap space setting the Rams up to either let him go or extend him on a team-friendly deal.