The Rams started their offseason with a bang after a blockbuster transaction triggered by the team saw Jared Goff and three future draft picks get shipped to the Detroit Lions in exchange for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford.
While the cost seems steep, it was a move the organization needed to make. The Goff experiment had its moments of optimism throughout his four years in Los Angeles but was lacking the tenacity that Stafford can now bring into Sean McVay’s system.
When the new season officially started on March 17, the Rams had a laundry list of impact players depart via free agency or trade:
-Safety John Johnson signed a three-year, $33.75 million deal with the Cleveland Browns
-Cornerback Troy Hill signed a four-year, $24 million deal with the Cleveland Browns
-Tight end Gerald Everett signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks
-Outside linebacker Samson Ebukam signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers
-Running back Malcolm Brown signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Miami Dolphins
-Defensive end Morgan Fox signed a two-year, $8.1 million deal with the Carolina Panthers
-Wide receiver Josh Reynolds signed a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans for an undisclosed amount as of this article
-Defensive tackle Michael Brockers was traded to the Detroit Lions in exchange for a 2023 seventh-round pick
Part of the reason for so many defects had to do with the Rams salary-cap situation. Entering the first week of free agency, the Rams were $33 million over the league’s cap. Following the transactions and restructuring of several contracts (including that of Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey), the Rams managed to get under the $182.5 million limit without having to cut any players.
From a positive perspective of the offseason so far, the Rams were able to bring back and add key contributors on both sides of the ball.
Despite not applying the franchise tag and some strong interests from other teams, the Rams were able to re-sign edge rusher Leonard Floyd to a four-year deal worth $64 million (with $32.5 million guaranteed).
Floyd expressed his excitement in a press conference with the media on March 25 and mentioned how building off of what the Rams were able to accomplish last season was part of his reasoning to re-sign.
“I wanted to play with [Donald] and Jalen Ramsey,” Floyd said. “I want to run it back. We were the best defense in the league last year so, I want to stick around with the same players and try to do it again. A lot of guys got contracts they deserve [with other teams] and now it’s time for the young guys to step up. I’m looking forward to it.”
Floyd had a major impact in his first season in Los Angeles, accounting for 55 total tackles, 10.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries (all career highs). The 28-year-old veteran provides a strong presence alongside Donald and thrives in his ability to stop the run. If he can be more than a one-year wonder (similarly to how Dante Fowler Jr. was two seasons ago), the Rams defense stays in good shape with a well-rounded defender.
In addition to the re-signing of Floyd, the Rams also bring back tight end Johnny Mundt (one-year, $750 thousand), who will now step into a role as the number two tight end (behind Tyler Higbee) with the departure of Gerald Everett. Mundt has been with the Rams since 2017 but has yet to see real playing time.
Last season, he had his best game against the Chicago Bears where he caught all three targets for 48 yards. It’s a small and least impactful move but Mundt has shown he can make plays and is a good blocker.
Besides the trade for Stafford, the biggest offseason transaction came in the form of signing veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a one-year deal (no amount given yet), making him the first outside free agent the team has signed all offseason.
Back home with mom ? pic.twitter.com/lPWEmiettP
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) March 26, 2021
The signing seems questionable for many Rams fans given Jackson’s age, injuries and lack of productivity the last two seasons he spent with the Philadelphia Eagles. What Jackson does offer is the deep threat option, something the Rams have lacked since McVay took over in 2017.
Jackson returns to his hometown where he grew up in nearby Crenshaw and attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School. In his introductory press conference on March 26, Jackson emphasized the excitement of being back home and the opportunity to play, not only for a team in Los Angeles but in front of friends and family.
“We didn’t have a team [in Los Angeles] when I was growing up, so the possibility had always been in my head since 2017,” Jackson said. “I’m looking forward to the comradery, just building the upbringing as far as what we’re trying to create. I know what they have been doing here in L.A. which is win so I’m happy to be an addition to that.”
Additionally, the connection between McVay and Jackson played a large role in the signing since the two were together when McVay was the offensive coordinator for the Washington Football Team and where Jackson produced two seasons of 1,000-+ receiving yards (2014-16).
“I think it’s going to be a great reemergent because [McVay] knows me and knows how to utilize me,” Jackson said. “We have a very special relationship and I remember after being released by the Eagles in 2013 [Jackson’s best season of his career] McVay came to and told me he believes in me as a player, as a human being, despite what the critics were saying. So, I know he’s going to put me in the best positions to win.”