How To Fix The Rams Defense
The LA Rams defense is going to be bad. Even if some players take monumental leaps, there isn’t enough talent and experience on the Rams roster to change that. Given the Rams front office view of this season as a prelude to 2024, it’s not likely that they will pull the trigger on any of these moves. But it’s June and hypotheticals are fun!
Trade Van Jefferson For A Cornerback
Van Jefferson’s next contract will take him into his 30s and Les Snead has only resigned a handful of drafted free agents in his tenure with the Rams. While Jefferson has been a very good contributor to the offense, the Rams wide receiver corps is one of the few position groups that have plenty of depth. (The quality of that depth is up for debate, but depth nonetheless).
With the Rams unlikely to pay Jefferson, trading him now makes a lot of sense. And there are several teams that are deprived of what he brings to the table. Flipping Jefferson to one of those teams in exchange for a veteran corner would go a long way to fixing the Rams defense. The trade wouldn’t fetch a top-tier cornerback, but it could get a very good option. A few teams would be good trade partners.
The Colts just drafted Anthony Richardson and don’t have a deep threat for him to throw to. In exchange, the Rams could add Isaiah Rodgers. The Texans are in a similar situation with C.J. Stroud and could afford to trade Desmond King to the Rams. The Chargers may be the best trade partner. They aren’t receiver-needy, but Jefferson’s speed could make him an enticing addition, in exchange for Michael Davis. Davis finished 8th among cornerbacks in total points saved, via SIS, playing in just 14 games.
Trade Matthew Stafford For Maxx Crosby
This one seems ridiculous, but it actually makes a ton of sense in the long term and I’m not just making this one up out of whole cloth, there have been rumors that the Rams have explored trading Matthew Stafford this offseason. Moving on from Stafford would automatically put the Rams in a position to make Caleb Williams or Drake Maye the future Rams QB
Adding Maxx Crosby would ensure that the Rams defense has a generational player when Aaron Donald decides to hang ‘em up. This move would set the Rams up for the next 5-10 years on both sides of the ball.
Regardless of how you spin it, sticking with Stafford is far from the long-term solution at the most important position in sports. Not only that, but by drafting Stetson Bennett the Rams acknowledged that they need a viable backup QB for if (when) Stafford misses time with an injury.
And that move isn’t without merit. Last season, Stafford suffered a concussion and (another) spinal injury, and then there was the mysterious elbow issue. Furthermore, Stafford is in the twilight of his career. The smart bet is to say he has 2-3 years left at best. All that said, the early report from McVay is “It’s the first offseason in a long time that he’s actually feeling good. He’s been able to throw.”
Why would the Raiders consider the trade? Desperation. Josh McDaniels has put himself way out on a limb and is already in the ‘first coach fired’ conversation. He single-handedly got Derek Carr cut, he traded a lot of draft capital for Davante Adams (and then seemingly forgot he was on the team for several games), and then signed an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, who may or may not play a snap for Las Vegas. The only options in free agency are not quarterbacks teams win with. The Raiders need to win now, and Stafford is the best option to do that with.
McDaniels finds himself in a real Schrodinger’s cat situation. If Stafford doesn’t work out, McDaniels is definitely fired, but that’s true if he doesn’t make the move as well.
Sign A Veteran Edge Defender
This doesn’t seem crazy on its face, but the Rams have no money, just 1.5 million under the cap, so they would have to do something crazy in order to make this happen. What kind of crazy? How do you feel about trading Tyler Higbee or Rob Havenstein? I won’t try to justify these moves, but that is the kind of thing that would have to happen in order to sign a pass rusher worth his salt. And a quick glance at the Rams depth chart shows why they might be so drastic.
But who could they get? Despite the crazy move, the Rams still couldn’t afford the premier names that are still unsigned, if that was the case they would have just kept Leonard Floyd. The one name that stands out is Melvin Ingram. Last season, he played for the Dolphins for $4 million, so he is affordable. He racked up 7 sacks and 38 pressures. Not only is he better than any current Rams edge player, but he is also one of the few players available that are athletic enough to do all the things the Rams demand of their outside linebackers. That is to say, drop into coverage and defend against the run in addition to attacking the pocket.
At 34, Ingram’s best days are behind him, but that was also the sentiment around Von Miller when he joined the Rams.
Signing him to a two-year contract would help usher the Rams from one era to the next, as he would also be an asset in developing the very green Rams edge rushers currently on the roster.