Barring any setbacks from the Worldwide Coronavirus Pandemic, we are a mere two days away (legal tampering period has already begun) from the beginning of free agency. At LAFB Network we have broken down the offensive linemen and linebackers that the Rams should target, and now it is time to breakdown the Safety position.
With the retirement of Eric Weddle, there are some holes to fill. Taylor Rapp had a great rookie season and should be slated as the starter heading into next year. John Johnson is now the veteran of the group and is one of the better safeties in the league, but coming off of a season-ending injury, it’s always good to have some insurance.
Here is a look at a few players that could compete for a starting spot and others that would add quality depth.
Free Agent Safeties The Rams Should Target In 2020
Karl Joseph – Strong Safety
Estimated Market Value – $6 Million Per Year
While I would not necessarily agree with this signing because I believe the Rams have bigger needs at other positions and should allocate the money elsewhere, Les Snead has shown that he can be very trigger-happy, and adding Joseph to the safety room would make it an elite unite.
Joseph hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers during his time with the Raiders, but when healthy, he has been very consistent. He finished with 48 tackles in 2018 and 49 in 2019 in just nine games and has totaled 236 tackles in his career. He plays a similar role as an in-box safety to that of Taylor Rapp, so the scheme fit would be interesting. But as a former first-round pick, his talent should be looked at, and a dime package that includes Johnson, Rapp, and Joseph would be fun to watch.
Vonn Bell – Strong Safety
Estimated Market Value – $4.5 Million Per Year
Again, this could be a little rich for the Rams, but Bell would be a great get if they could keep him under $5 million per, or get him a back-loaded deal. Similar to Joseph, Bell is a box-safety and not your prototypical ballhawk. But this does not mean that he wouldn’t provide tremendous value. He is a very sure tackler and is coming off of a career year with 89 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 fumble recoveries, and 1 interception in 13 games.
Bell has shown great consistency throughout his career and is an extremely sure tackler. What he lacks in coverage skills, he makes up for against the run, and adding a great tackler against the run when the Rams have a lot of question marks at the linebacker position is not such a bad idea.
Adrian Phillips – Free Safety
Estimated Market Value – $1.5 | $2.5 Million Per Year
Ok, now we are getting to the more viable and realistic options. Undrafted out of Texas, Adrian Phillips has played a lot of big-time snaps for the Chargers. After a career year in 2018, boasting 94 tackles and 10 passes defensed, the Chargers offered Phillips a one-year “prove-it again” deal. Unfortunately, after five weeks of solid play (he was able to show-case as a starter after Derwin James was injured at the beginning of the year) he broke his arm and did not return until the very end of this season. This could allow a team like the Rams to capitalize and offer a very affordable contract.
Phillips would add depth to the Rams safety room, could contribute on special teams, and could be used as a spot starter if necessary. He could even start alongside John Johnson, and allow Rapp to play in nickel and dime packages. Just an option.
Will Parks – Safety
Estimated Market Value – $2 Million Per Year
This is probably my favorite potential addition for the Rams at Safety. Parks has never been a starter for the Broncos in his four-year career, but he has gotten plenty of reps and has put his versatility on display. This is probably what makes him so appealing. He can play either safety position, can be a center fielder (not his strongest asset but he can do it), can be a ballhawk, and can play in the box as a true thumper.
A lot of Rams fans probably remember Mark Barron, who was drafted as a strong safety out of Alabama but was transitioned to linebacker after being traded to the Rams. While I don’t want to see Parks fully transitioned, he has the ability to play backer in certain formations, and can certainly lay the wood for his frame. Parks’ versatility is what intrigues me, and for $2 million a year, you’d love to get a guy that you can plug in virtually anywhere.
Marqui Christian – Safety
Estimated Market Value – $1 | $2 Million Per Year
We have to talk about the guy that is currently on the roster. Christian has been a solid player for the Rams in the limited action that he has seen. The past two seasons have garnered nearly identical statistics for Christian as he finished the most recent with 36 tackles and 2 passes defensed.
The biggest question will be, “Does Christian fit what new DC Brandon Staley wants to do on defense?” I think that he could fit in and be a valuable piece of the safety room, especially for the price tag. While the Rams certainly need to add a body at this position, it is not necessarily one that they want to get spendy on. Keeping it in house and keeping a player that has been with the team for four seasons at a very affordable price may be just what Les Snead and the gang need to do.