ESPN’s Bill Barnwell Suggests Fascinating Signing To Improve Los Angeles Rams Defense

Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams made several additions to their defense in NFL free agency, evidently preparing for the retirement of Aaron Donald. Now that one of the best NFL players of all time has walked off into the sunset, there is a need for a more well-rounded roster in Los Angeles.

Thanks to general manager Les Snead, the Rams depth chart defensively does look a lot better than it did at the start of the offseason. Los Angeles added cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Darious Williams along with safety Kamren Curl.

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Free agency was used to improve the secondary, with the 2024 NFL Draft providing Los Angeles its opportunity to upgrade the front seven. The first two Rams draft picks in 2024 were defensive lineman Jared Verse and Braden Fiske, adding much-needed juice to the pass rush.

If all goes well, even without Donald, it should lead to improvements for the Rams defense this fall. However, there are always ways to get better and one top ESPN NFL analyst believes there’s an option out there for Los Angeles in NFL free agency.

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An Intriguing Fit For The Los Angeles Rams

Bill Barnwell of ESPN proposed 10 NFL offseason moves that should happen before training camp. One of them was the Rams signing former Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons.

“What about the Rams? They are transitioning on defense after losing coordinator Raheem Morris to the Falcons and replacing him with Chris Shula, but there’s a chance they’ll still run some of the Vic Fangio-style coverages they used under Morris and Brandon Staley. And although Simmons is 30, he came of age and emerged as an elite safety under Fangio when the two were in Denver…Bringing in Simmons on a one-year deal would give L.A. an immediate starter at safety to play alongside Curl while allowing the franchise to bring Kinchens along slowly as a potential nickel safety.”

Bill Barnwell on why the Los Angeles Rams should sign Justin Simmons

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Simmons, age 30, earned second-team All-Pro honors this past season. In addition to being a four-time All-Pro selection, the veteran safety was the co-interceptions leader in 2022 and has two Pro Bowl selections.

  • Justin Simmons stats (2023): 53 solo tackles, 8 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles

Last season in Denver, Simmons received a 77.6 run-defense grade from Pro Football Focus with a 71.3 PFF pass-rush grade that ranked 11th among safeties with 500-plus snaps played. While he’s not as athletic as he once was, he’s also reliable in pass coverage.

The versatility the veteran safety offers could make him a nice complement to Curl as two multi-dimensional defensive backs, all while allowing Kamren Kinchens to learn the game as a rookie and be more of a rotational player.