What’s up LA? Still enjoying that Super Bowl haze? Good, you should be. But for the rest of the football world, including the Rams front office, the 2022 season begins next week when the free agency period tips off. If the Los Angeles Rams hope to “Run It Back,” then they need to take care of a lot of in-house free agents while also potentially bringing in some outsiders.
I am treating this article like a Mock Draft, if you will. I am going to predict every signing for the Rams, and include cap figures and projections (2022 yearly projections, not full contract length and money total).
As it currently stands, according to OverTheCap.com, the Rams sit $20,273,914 over the cap. But not worry, thanks to some simple contract manipulation, the team can actually clear roughly $99.4 million, which would give them $79,126,086 in cap space. Don’t believe me? You can see the proof here from Spotrac.
Most of this hinges on extensions for Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald, and the potential of Andrew Whitworth retiring, who has a current cap hit of $17,666,668. If he doesn’t retire, there is an odd possibility of an extension that would then spread his cap hit out and push it further down the line.
For the sake of this article, let’s envision all of these extensions and restructures go to plan, leaving the Rams with $79,126,086 million in space.
Having the “Run It Back” mentality means that the Rams really do not need to look outside of their own building to build up their roster. They just to make sure to bring back as many players from last year as they can. They have a lot of free agents, so they won’t be able to bring back everyone, but they can still ensure the core of contributors stays in tack for another title run.
Von Miller, OLB – $13.5 Million 2022 Cap Hit
Von Miller is, in my opinion, maybe the most important Free Agent for the Rams to bring back. Not just because they gave up a 2nd and a 3rd round pick to get him, and not just because of how instrumental he was on the defense and the Championship run, but also because Aaron Donald used some very choice words about his return and made it pretty clear that he would return IF Von and the rest of the team stayed intact.
In my humble opinion, now that the dust has settled, I think that Donald will be strapping it up again regardless, but it would certainly ease the anxiety of fans if Miller remained in Horns.
There is a very real possibility that Von may return to the Denver Broncos, as he has hinted all week on social media:
I kinda want that old thing back.. 5280
— Von Miller (@VonMiller) March 7, 2022
but I actually think the Rams can offer him more money, as odd as that sounds. At this point in his career, I don’t think Von is chasing a contract, but the Rams still give him the best shot at another title. I’m 50-50 on where he ends up, but I’ll lean Rams for now, with a $13.5 million 2022 cap hit, which is a HUGE signing for Snead and Co.
Darious Williams, CB – $9 Million 2022 Cap Hit
If Von Miller is the most important re-sign, Williams is a close second. He had a very up and down year, but with Jalen Ramsey being, well, Jalen Ramsey, there is a pretty large drop-off after Williams in the cornerback room. He keeps stability, brings smarts and awareness to the position, and gives Robert Rochell more time to develop.
I have seen some projections out there with Williams garnering between $13 and $14 million this offseason (which the Rams will not be able to afford), but I don’t see him getting quite that much. Perhaps he takes a small hometown discount, but I think that $9 million dollar figure in 2022 seems more accurate with a 2-3 year extension attached to it. Very important signing for the Rams.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR – $10 Million 2022 Cap Hit
This one almost seems like a done deal at this point, we are just waiting for the free agency period to open to make it official. OBJ loves LA and LA loves OBJ. I don’t think I need to get into what he brings to the offense and how dynamic he will be with the addition of Robert Woods back next season, I have talked plenty on that subject on the LA Football Show.
Because of his unfortunate ACL tear in the Super Bowl, I would imagine that this contract will be heavily backloaded since he will not be available this season until November. So that’s where I get the $10 million figure vs $14-$17 like most places predict. But this is a no-brainer, for both parties, lock it in.
Austin Corbett, OG – $9.25 Million 2022 Cap Hit
Austin Corbett finished with a 69.6 overall blocking grade, according to PFF, good enough for 18th among guards. However, that grade moves to 8th when you increase the snap counts. Corbett finished 4th with 1,360 snaps logged, according to PFF, which was ironically five behind his counterpart David Edwards.
Two guards to keep an eye on are newly released, and former Ram, Rodger Saffold, and former Giant Will Hernandez, but I still like the fit of Corbett.
Corbett has not only proven that he can play the position and fit within the Rams offensive scheme, but more importantly, he is healthy and available, pretty much always. Extend and forget.
Brian Allen, C – $5.4 Million 2022 Cap Hit
Fans seem to be somewhat split on Brian Allen, but the dude logged nearly 1,200 snaps and finished with a blocking grade of 74.8, good enough for 8th among centers, according to PFF. Overall, he was better in run blocking (79.7) than pass blocking (62.4), and PFF grading is absolutely subjective, but Allen is a solid starting center in the NFL.
The Rams would still be wise to draft a center at some point in the draft this year, but the last thing you want is to be forced to start a mid to late-round rookie on the offensive line. Give Allen a 2-year extension, draft a center to groom, and go from there.
Joseph Noteboom, T – $4 Million 2022 Cap Hit
If Andrew Whitworth decides to return for the 2022 season, this is still a very important re-sign for depth, and the future of the offensive line. If Whit decides to retire, this may jump to the most important extension of 2022.
Joe Noteboom has proven that he not only can take over the role of protector of Matthew Stafford’s blindside but has proven that he can do it at a very high level. After being drafted in 2018, he has done his time and now has earned a contract extension to stay with the team that drafted and developed him to take on the starting role. This move is integral to the Rams success not just in 2022, but beyond.
Coleman Shelton, C/G – $1 Million 2022 Cap Hit
Pretty much the entire offensive line for the Rams are free agents in 2022. I don’t need to go into too much detail here, but Coleman Shelton has developed into a very nice depth piece with fringe starting capabilities. He is also very versatile and can move all over the offensive line, which is extremely valuable down the stretch. Very important depth extension here.
Johnny Mundt, TE – $1 Million 2022 Cap Hit
Mundt earned under $1 million last year and he should get probably around the same yearly sum again. He had improved mightily as a pass catcher and was expected to be featured in the offense much more in that regard until an injury sidelined him for the entire season. He is extremely valuable in run blocking so this is a no-brainer for the front office to bring him back. Jacob Harris figures to be more of a wide receiver anyway, so Mundt is necessary for more depth at a position that was pummeled with injuries last season.
Travin Howard, ILB – $1 Million 2022 Cap Hit (Tender Could Jump This Number Up A Bit)
I really liked what I saw out of Howard as the season went on. He seemed to get better and better and really grasped his role. I would love for the Rams to bring him back and continue to develop him alongside Ernest Jones (who is the DUDE at the position). Troy Reeder is also a free agent (both are RFA) and I don’t see them bringing both of them back. Howard is the better option, in my opinion.
Matt Gay, K – $2.5 Million 2022 Cap Hit
The Rams haven’t had consistency at the kicker position since Greg The Leg went to Dallas. Matt Gay brought stability and was a Pro Bowler last season. Need I say more. Pay the man and don’t bring a headache to Training Camp.
Total Cap Space Spent On In-House Free Agents: $56,650,000
Money Left Over: $22,476,086
Out Of House Free Agents
This is going to be a short section. Like I wrote earlier, the Rams really just need to focus on bringing back the team that they built and really don’t need to focus on any outside free agents (they also have 8 draft picks to build with, but F*** Them Picks, Right?). However, if they do have some leftover money, as they do in this scenario, here are two players I see them signing.
Patrick Peterson, CB – $5.5 Million 2022 Cap Hit
The Rams love making a splash, but this one wouldn’t cost them all that much. Peterson isn’t the player that he once was, but with Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams, he wouldn’t have to be. Patrick P still played nearly 900 snaps last season so health shouldn’t be a concern.
Can you imagine a Super Bowl winning team getting BETTER in the secondary? Ramsey, Williams, Peterson, with Rochell and Long Jr. as depth. Sign me up.
Bobby Wagner, LB – $7.5 Million 2022 Cap Hit
Clearly, the Seahawks are either in full rebuild mode or clearing the way to make a massive offer for Deshaun Watson. Either way, it is shocking that Wagner is available. Wagner finished his Pro Bowl campaign last year with 170 total tackles and a 71.8 overall grade with over 1,100 overall snaps. The Rams have never made inside linebacker a priority, but it is rare that you get the opportunity of this caliber of player at a bargain price.
The team has made very clear that they absolutely love Ernest Jones and don’t want to take any snaps away from him, especially when they run a lot of single-backer sets. But pairing Wagner with Jones is going to be way too enticing for Les Snead and Raheem Morris to pass up. And wouldn’t Wagner love to stick it to Seattle similarly to how Richard Sherman did when he went to SF after his release?
This is a pipe dream, but it is being reported that the Rams do have interest. Usually, when they are interested, they get a deal done.
Total Cap Space Spent On Out Of House Free Agents: $13,000,000
Total Cap Space Spent Total: $69,650,000
Total Cap Remaining For Draft Picks And In Season Moves: $9,476,086
I tried to keep this as realistic as possible. They may need to save a little bit more than $9+ million for their draft class and in-season moves but I think they can get away with this model and these projections.
We are on to the new season, time to “Run It Back!”
Let me know what you think and who you would rather the Rams pursue in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter @RyanDyrudLAFB.