The Los Angeles Rams must make some free agency decisions in the coming weeks. That means figuring out what free agents to re-sign and which ones to let sign elsewhere.
According to Over The Cap, the Rams have $37 million in cap space to spend in free agency. They also have 14 various types of free agents. Here is what the Rams should do during free agency.
Free Agents To Re-Sign
Safety T.J. McDonald
McDonald has started 53 games since the Rams drafted him in 2013. The former USC player has become a fan favorite since the team came to Los Angeles last year. Pro Football Focus also ranked him as the 58th safety, which is average.
The Rams should retain McDonald. They let starting safety Rodney McLeod bounce via free agency last season. This season, L.A. does not have the salary cap or draft picks to replace another safety. Retaining McDonald is a major key to keeping the defense at an elite level.
Corner Trumaine Johnson
— Zesty NFL News (@zesty_nfl) February 25, 2017
Reports indicate that the Rams are 75 percent likely to use their franchise tender on corner Trumaine Johnson, for the second consecutive year. That means a bigger payday for Johnson. It also means L.A. retains their top corner. This is crucial considering the Rams do not have much depth behind Johnson.
Kicker Greg Zuerlein
Special teams were the best unit from on the 2016 Rams. This is why special teams coordinator John Fassel was named interim head coach when Jeff Fisher was fired.
Fassel is back as special teams coordinator. Zuerlein should be back as the kicker too. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 4 kicker in the entire NFL.
Defensive Tackle Dominique Easley
— ESPNBoston (@ESPNBoston) December 2, 2016
Easley provided depth for the Rams, once players like Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn dealt with injuries. Now, Easley is a restricted free agent coming off a 3.5 sacks season. PFF ranked him as the 26th interior defender.
Moreover, the Rams are switching to a 3-4 defense. Easley played that with the New England Patriots in 2014 and 2015. The Rams should keep Easley’s experience, youth and versatility on their front line. Expect him to return to Los Angeles in 2017.
Free Agents To Let Walk
Receiver Kenny Britt
— Pro Football Rumors (@pfrumors) February 25, 2017
Britt was one of the only bright spots on the Rams offense in 2016. He was the first receiver to break 1,000 receiving yards since Torry Holt. After the breakout season, Britt may look for one more big payday.
Unfortunately, his coach Jeff Fisher is no longer calling the shots. That means the Rams will probably install a new system that calls for a different type of receiver. Head coach Sean McVay utilized smaller, speedy receivers like Desean Jackson in Washington. Britt is not exactly that type of specimen. Further, it is already reported that Rams will move on from Britt in 2017.
Quarterback Case Keenum
Keenum started more games, threw more touchdowns and threw more passing yards than starting quarterback Jared Goff.
Still, another team will sell Keenum on his potential to start for them. L.A. should let him walk. They may be comfortable moving forward with Sean Mannion as the primary backup behind Goff.
Running Back Benny Cunningham
Cunningham has seen his rushing yards decline in every season since his rookie year. Moreover, this draft class is loaded with running back talent. Los Angeles should explore a more explosive back behind starter Todd Gurley.
Receiver Brian Quick
— Liam Jenkins (@LiamJenkins21) February 7, 2017
Quick is coming off the best season of his career. He registered the most starts, targets, catches, and reception yards of his five-year career.
Still, Quick may opt for a change of scenery rather than learning another new offensive scheme under the Rams. Plus, Quick can probably market himself better to another team, after his breakout 2016 season.
Defensive End Ethan Westbrooks
Westbrooks appeared in every game and he registered a pair of sacks. He also got a fumble recovery and a touchdown.
Unfortunately, the Rams do not have a lot of cap space. Los Angeles is also switching schemes. They already have veterans Eugene Sims and Williams Hayes under contract. Hence, Westbrooks may latch on elsewhere. PFF gave him a 54.4 accumulative grade, so he is not irreplaceable.
The journeyman defensive tackle played well in 2016. He finished with a positive grade from PFF. However, the run defender could get phased out by younger options on the Rams’ roster. Los Angeles may keep him, but only if it is for really cheap.
Running back Trey Watts, defensive end Matt Longacre, and defensive tackle Louis Trinca Pasat are all exclusive free agents. The Rams could re-sign them with a minimum salary tender. However, all of those three guys were from the previous regime. Therefore, they could all bounce from Los Angeles.
Granted, the Rams could create more free agents by cutting some players under contracts. Corner Lamarcus Joyner, guard Rodger Saffold, corner E.J. Gaines, safety Cody Davis, and tight end Lance Kendricks are all potential cap casualty candidates. All of those players offer cap savings if cut before June 1.
Stay tuned to see what the Los Angeles Rams do in free agency when negotiations open on March 7.
[Featured Image by Rick Scuteri/AP Images]