Rams’ 2024 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NFL Playoff Loss

Rams’ 2024 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NFL Playoff Loss

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    Rams head coach Sean McVay

    Rams head coach Sean McVayThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Rams were one of the more surprising teams in the NFL this past season. Following an offseason purge of veteran talent, most expected this to be a rebuilding season for L.A., possibly one involving a run at a top-five draft selection. Instead, the Rams leaned on their experienced core and some unexpected young talent to secure a wild-card berth.

    A year after winning only five games, Los Angeles won 10. Quarterback Matthew Stafford returned to form, head coach Sean McVay showed exactly why he was eager to return and the Rams marched into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed.

    However, the team’s run came to a swift end with a 24-23 loss to the Detroit Lions in Sunday’s NFC Wild Card Game.

    Returning stars like Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp played significant roles, but youngsters like rookie receiver Puka Nacua and defensive lineman Kobie Turner were difference-makers.

    Instead of a rebuild, 2023 might have brought the beginning of a new run. McVay and general manager Les Snead can build on their success and potentially make the team even more formidable in 2024. Now that the playoff run is over, let’s dive into what’s ahead for the Rams in the offseason.

Free Agents

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    Rams S John Johnson III

    Rams S John Johnson IIIRyan Kang/Getty Images

    Unrestricted Free Agents

    G Tremayne Anchrum

    G Kevin Dotson

    S Jordan Fuller

    TE Brycen Hopkins

    S John Johnson III

    DL Larrell Murchison

    LB Troy Reeder

    WR Demarcus Robinson

    CB Duke Shelley

    DE Jonah Williams

    CB Ahkello Witherspoon

    Restricted/Exclusive-Rights Free Agents

    LB Christian Rozeboom

    LB Michael Hoecht

    OT Alaric Jackson

    RB Ronnie Rivers

    WR Austin Trammell

    The Rams are in a far better position than many may realize because their centerpiece veterans are under contract and many of their rising standouts are on rookie deals.

    This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t important players to re-sign. Offensive tackle Alaric Jackson (restricted) and guard Kevin Dotson are among the end-of-season starters who should be retained.

    Jackson might have been a relative unknown entering the season, but he was a strong contributor along the line. According to Pro Football Focus, he was responsible for only three penalties and one surrendered sack in 968 snaps.

    Defensive end Jonah Williams is set to be an unrestricted free agent, while linebackers Christian Rozeboom and Michael Hoecht are both restricted free agents who could be retained. Safeties John Johnson III—who returned to L.A. following a stint with the Cleveland Browns—and Jordan Fuller will also warrant strong consideration.

    Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson wasn’t a significant factor early in the season, but he shined down the stretch. He had four straight games with a touchdown reception before a six-catch, 92-yard outing and then a cursory appearance in the season finale.

    Keeping the offensive line intact may be the top priority, as Stafford was sacked only 30 times in 15 games after being sacked 29 times in nine contests the previous season. The line also helped unlock Kyren Williams as an upper-echelon running back.

    Realistically, though, Snead can afford to keep the roster intact if he so chooses. The Rams are projected to have $48.2 million in cap space, which is above the league average.

Potential Free-Agent/Trade Targets

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    Ravens S Geno Stone

    Ravens S Geno StoneMichael Owens/Getty Images

    While Snead hasn’t been afraid to trade for veteran talent in the past, the Rams may take a different approach over the next year or two while continuing to build around their budding stars.

    Or, L.A. may decide that it’s already time to swing for the fences and another Super Bowl. Stafford will turn 36 in February and is only under contract through 2026. The Rams may want to maximize the time they have left with (likely) the future Hall of Famer.

    If the Rams do take the latter approach, they may look to poach proven veterans on expiring contracts or unwieldy contracts, like Khalil Mack, Mike Williams or Justin Simmons

    If Sneed prefers to continue the youth movement, we’ll probably see L.A. target younger players who are only entering their primes in free agency. An ascending cornerback like Jaylon Johnson or L’Jarius Sneed would make plenty of sense for the Rams, who ranked just 20th in passing yards allowed during the regular season.

    A safety like Kyle Dugger, Jeremy Chinn or Geno Stone would also make sense, depending on what the Rams do with Johnson and Fuller.

    Offensively, it wouldn’t hurt to continue bolstering the line, though Snead may wait for the draft to do so. The 2024 tackle market is relatively underwhelming, with 33-year-old Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith serving as the most proven vet.

    We could also see the Rams target a wide receiver to complement Kupp and Nacua. While Robinson flashed toward the end of the year, a more consistent third option could make the passing attack virtually indefensible.

    Several quality receivers are scheduled to reach the market, including Tee Higgins, Calvin Ridley, Curtis Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and Cedrick Wilson Jr. A reunion with Odell Beckham Jr. could make sense.

Draft Targets

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    Rams general manager Les Snead

    Rams general manager Les SneadMichael Hickey

    The pre-draft process should be exciting for Rams fans. Los Angeles has a first-round selection for the first time since 2016, plus selections in the second and third rounds to go with a pair of fifth-rounders.

    Given Snead’s success in the 2023 draft, we may see L.A. trade picks to add more late-round capital, but the Rams can home in on their biggest needs early if they choose.

    A playmaking cornerback would certainly make sense in Round 1, but the Rams may have limited options. In the Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s latest draft rankings, only two cornerbacks—Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry and Ohio State’s Denzel Burke—landed inside the top 32 prospects, and Burke is returning to college.

    A pass-rusher like Penn State’s Chop Robinson or Washington’s Bralen Trice might be more realistic in Round 1, and it won’t be a surprise if the Rams target a lineman like Washington’s Troy Fautanu.

    “Overall, Fautanu is a twitched-up, explosive blocker with excellent length and a tone-setting demeanor who projects best inside at guard with tackle versatility in his back pocket,” Brandon Thorn of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. ” His tools and skill set should land him a starting job right away.”

    While the Rams’ line was improved in 2023, it never hurts to keep building up front.

    The defensive backfield will likely be a draft priority, so expect prospects like USC safety Calen Bullock and Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter to get serious consideration on Day 2.

    If the Rams don’t retain Robinson and/or upgrade the receiver room in free agency, we could also see another young pass-catcher added to the mix. Another tight end—Tyler Higbee just turned 31—could also aid the offense.

    Expect prospects like Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey and North Carolina tight end Bryson Nesbit to garner late interest as well.

    *Cap, contract and free-agent status information via Spotrac. Draft order information via Tankathon.

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