The rough campaign that was the 2022 Los Angeles Rams season exposed several weak spots on the roster. They will certainly address some of those needs in free agency, but they will also have to make some decisions about who they should try to bring back.
What are the Rams priorities in free agency when it opens on March 15th?
What Are The Rams Priorities in Free Agency?
The biggest gamble the Rams took last season was betting that Joseph Noteboom could replace Andrew Whitworth. In truth, it’s hard to say if it would have worked out. Noteboom was injured early in Week 6. In the five games he did play the results were inconsistent. In three games he allowed seven total pressures. This includes the game against the Cowboys. He allowed just three pressures against a terrific Dallas pass rush. But he allowed a combined 16 pressures against the 49ers and the Bills.
Unfortunately for the Rams the 2023 free agents class of left tackles is top-heavy and shallow. This means the top options will cost a pretty penny. This may price the Rams out, but given what trouble they had at left tackle last season, they may not be able to afford not to overpay at the position.
The Rams also have five offensive linemen due for new contracts. Left tackle, Oday Aboushi, and center Matt Skura were added midseason when the injury bug turned into a pandemic. Interior linemen Coleman Shelton, David Edwards, and Chandler Brewer are all free agents as well. Both Shelton and Edwards were in starting roles last season and both played well. But the Rams have generally opted to let those positions walk in free agency.
Two-thirds of the Rams 3-4 defensive line are free agents this year. Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson will test the open market. Robinson will likely be seeking the last big payday of his career. He will be 28 when the season kicks off and is also coming off a season-ending meniscus tear.
Gaines is much more affordable, but he isn’t likely high on the radar of NFL general managers, so he won’t likely be the first free agent signed. The Rams can’t afford to lose both Gaines and Robinson.
Interior defensive line is one of the only deep positions groups in free agency this year. Michael Brockers was released by the Lions, which could set up a reunion with the Rams. Jerry Tillery and Solomon Thomas are also players to watch.
The Rams haven’t seemed terribly confident in the depth at the position, making the defensive line a high priority.
This position is nothing but a big question mark for 2023. New offensive coordinator, Mike LaFleur will likely spearhead the running game and after last year’s performance, there is no guarantee that the Rams will retain any of their currently rostered running backs outside of Kyren Williams.
There are a number of former 49er running backs that Lafleur may want to sign to install the Shanahan-style rushing attack. Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson, and Jerick McKinnon all spent time in San Francisco and are all on the market.
There are also big names that are available if the Rams feel like spending money at the position. Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, and Tony Pollard would all add a lot to the Rams offense. The Rams had a move like this in mind last season with their attempted trade for Christian McCaffrey.
If they make a play for one of those, they will have to act swiftly.
The Jalen Ramsey trade rumors are not just rumors. The Rams have entertained the idea. If he does move, the defensive backfield loses nearly all of its veteran leadership. Frankly, his leadership, experience, and high level of play are not replaceable in free agency this year. In the event that he is traded, finding a good corner in free agency rockets up the priority list.
Troy Hill is a free agent. It always seemed that his one-year deal was an insurance policy against the development of their first and second-year cornerbacks. It is unlikely they will resign him.
The Rams could find a quality free agent that would complement Ramsey. Rock Ya-Sin or Isaiah Oliver would be good options if Ramsey remains a Ram
Both the Rams backups are free agents and neither lived up to Sean McVay’s expectations when asked to fill in for Matthew Stafford. They have expressed interest in adding a veteran behind Stafford. There are a lot of options for the Rams to consider at quarterback. Mike White and Joe Flacco worked with offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur when he was in New York. Other names to watch are Andy Dalton, Taylor Heinicke, Gardner Minshew, and Teddy Bridgewater.
This is a huge area of need for the Rams. They won’t need a number one option, but they do need to add some bodies to the group. The free agent class isn’t deep and edge talent garners a lot of money.