The writing has been on the wall for weeks, but it cuts a bit differently when the tough decisions made by McVay and the Los Angeles Rams front office are actually finalized.
Leonard Floyd leaves the team after three years on the roster. In that time he posted 36 sacks in the post and regular seasons. This includes a sack in the Rams Super Bowl win. His sack total was second on the team to only Aaron Donald in that time period.
Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider how versatile a defender he is. He dropped into pass coverage an average of 88 times per season. This puts him in the top ten in usage among edge rushers in coverage. And he was good in coverage too!
Chicago drafted Floyd 9th overall in the 2016 draft, but he struggled to live up to those high expectations, producing just 21 sacks in four seasons. Floyd’s career turned around during his time with the Rams.
Life After Leonard Floyd:
This leaves the Rams with Michael Hoecht, Keir Thomas, and Daniel Hardy on the roster at the outside linebacker position. Thomas and Hardy have just over 100 snaps played between the two of them.
They were both added to the team last season. Hardy is a seventh-round draft pick and Thomas was an undrafted free agent. Hardy has some freakish athletic qualities but missed the first 12 weeks of the season on injured reserve due to a high ankle sprain suffered at the beginning of September. He also did not supplant Hoecht as the starter opposite Leonard Floyd once he was healthy.
Hoecht became the starter after the team cut Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis. Hoecht showed plenty of good at outside linebacker but lacks the speed to play the position on all four downs.
All that to say, the Rams will have to add at the position and they will need to look outside the building for a starting outside linebacker.
Vote Now: How will the Rams replace OLB Leonard Floyd?
Pros and Cons for each side:
Free agency is coming up and is an easy way to find a starter, but this year’s free agent edge class is far from ideal. Most bonafide starters are over 30 and all are overpriced, due to the inflated price for edge talent.
A trade is possible, but it is hard to say what assets the team is willing to part with. Edge rushers demand a pretty penny. So the Rams would have to be willing to part with a good player or their 2024 first-rounder and maybe more.
The Rams could draft at the position. They have the 36th overall pick and the draft class is deep with edge talent. The drawback being there are no guarantees that draft picks will pan out. The Rams will be focusing on getting their offense back to the high-scoring juggernaut that it once was, so they prioritize offense with their first pick in the draft. Making finding a starting edge rusher even harder in the third round