It’s here, it’s FINALLY here! NFL Free Agency begins March 18th and for the Rams it’ll be a busy off-season. One of the biggest position they need to address is their linebackers or lack there of.
Both Cory Littleton and Dante Fowler Jr. are hitting the market and they can’t keep both. They need to decide who to prioritize (Littleton, the answer is Littleton) and even if they do they’ll still need more linebackers. They can’t go after Shaq Barrett, both because he’ll be franchised and they can’t afford him anyway, although, fun fact, they could’ve had him for a sandwich last year, but Wade Phillips preferred Clay Matthews. Oh well, the good news is that there are plenty of bargain linebackers for the Rams to pursue.
Market Value According To LAFB – $10.7 Million Per Season
While Barrett, Fowler, and Littleton are the bigger names available Schobert is someone that deserves a hard look. He turns 27 this year and for Cleveland, he had to be a swiss army knife. He hasn’t been as consistent as he could be but in Brandon Staley’s system, he could be utilized in the same ways Littleton has been. He would need to be signed quickly because he might get pricey once Barrett is franchised and Fowler/Littleton are off the board.
Market Value According To SpoTrac – $11.6 Million Per Season
Martinez stands to make a lot of money this off-season. He was part of a Packers defense that saw dramatic improvement (until the NFC Championship) and Martinez was a big reason why. Yes, he struggled in run defense but his abilities in pass coverage are worth what will likely be a large price tag. The good news is that the run defense can always be improved and since he’s only 26 he’s just entering his prime.
Market Value According To LAFB – $3.4 Million Per Season
Kwiatkoski might be the most likely name to get a meeting with the Rams. The 2016 4th round pick was coached by Brandon Staley in Chicago before Staley left for Denver. He never started during Staley’s time there but that’s because he was stuck behind Khalil Mack and fellow free agent Danny Trevathan. When Trevathan was injured Kwiatkoski made an impact notching 68 tackles, three sacks, and a pick so the upside is there. Given his 22 total starts, his price tag might not be as heavy as the above names which makes him a more attractive option.
Market Value According To LAFB – $9.2 Million Per Season
Again, the Rams need an option that won’t break the bank but contains upside, and Campbell is another fine example of that. The soon to be former Falcon is a prolific tackler (129 combined tackles last season) which the Rams sorely need. The downside is he struggles in coverage and doesn’t have the speed to cover more athletic players. Like everyone else on the list, that isn’t to say his deficiencies as a player can’t be fixed but the speed is something that’s likely to be as good as it’s going to get. That said, if they can get him at a decent price he’ll at least be a boon against the run.
Market Value According To SpoTrac – $8.3 Million Per Season
The lambs clearly haven’t stopped screaming for Sean McVay and signing Kyle Van Noy might help quiet them down. Not only is Van Noy an awesome pass rusher but he can provide further insight into a defense that befell McVay.
For Brandon Staley, he’s the kind of utility player that every defensive coordinator covets. He is a skilled tackler and solid in pass coverage with the ability to play anywhere in the front seven.
Of all the linebackers on this list, he’s the one with the most experience in a leadership position and one that’s been part of one of the best cultures in all of football.
Market Value According To LAFB – $8.5 Million Per Season
Kirksey was just released on Tuesday and while he’s had some injury issues the last two years including a chest injury that cost him 14 games, he won’t be unemployed long. He’s recorded 11.5 sacks and 484 tackles in his first seven years. He has the chance to be one of the best young linebackers in the league if he continues to develop. Like most moves the Browns make they’ll come to regret cutting Kirksey as he is a solid run-stopper and is no slouch in coverage.
The Rams need to come out of free agency with better linebackers or else it’ll be a rough year. If they can keep Cory Littleton it’ll be less brutal but they’ll still need more cost effective vets to go with the younger players that they’ve drafted and the players they’ll inevitably draft. Outside of Littleton, that position has been a real black hole and that’s cost them dearly.