Entering the 2021 offseason, the Los Angeles Rams have as many as 17 free agents they have to make decisions on. As the focus starts to switch to free agency, let’s take a look at the Rams’ top free agents on offense and defense in 2021.
How much cap space do the Rams have in 2021 with which to re-sign their free agents?
Based on the current projected salary cap of $176 million, the Rams are in some trouble this offseason. They currently are looking at a cap situation that projects to be just around $20 million over the cap. They do have 45 players already signed, so they only need to find space for eight more. However, it is going to make for some tough decisions for the Rams when it comes to their free agents in 2021. Who may the Rams look to re-sign, and who will they likely let hit free agency?
The Rams should have some relatively simple decisions with their free agents on offense in 2021
Entering 2021, the Rams have four unrestricted free agents (UFA), one restricted free agent, and one exclusive-rights free agent to make decisions on when it comes to their offense. All four UFA have played at least 40 percent of snaps this season. One played all 100% of the snaps in 2020.
Josh Reynolds, Wide Receiver
Reynolds has put together the best year of his career. He played 72% of the snaps for the Rams, pulling in 52 receptions on 81 targets. His 64 percent catch rate is the best of his career, and his 618 yards account for 43 percent of his career yards.
Reynolds is likely looking for a new team this offseason, with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp both difficult options to cut in 2021. Of the Rams 2021 free agents, Reynolds could be one of the surprises in terms of the deal he gets.
Gerald Everett, Tight End
Despite seeing a similar share of targets, Everett appears to be the second tight end behind Higbee. Higbee was on the field for 73 percent of the Rams snaps in 2020, while Everett managed just 57 percent. Being a free agent in 2021 is arguably the best thing for Everett and the Rams. Over the course of his four-year career, Everett has turned 204 targets into 127 receptions, with 1,389 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
In some ways, 2020 has been the best year of his career. He saw his highest snap count and caught 66 percent of his targets. However, with the Rams cap situation, it is unlikely they make an effort to bring him back ahead of becoming a 2021 NFL free agent.
Malcolm Brown, Running Back
The emergence of Cam Akers has likely left Malcolm Brown looking for a new team in 2021. At 42 percent of the offensive snaps, Brown leads the position. However, in his six-year career with the Rams, he has averaged just four yards per rush attempt. In 298 career carries, Brown has 1,188 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has not had much effect in the passing game, with just 43 career receptions on 61 targets, for 327 yards and a touchdown.
Austin Blythe, Center
Blythe is one of just two players to play all 100% of the Rams snaps in 2020. He has had his struggles, especially when it came to pass blocking. However, he was better against the run but still had issues at times. Price is always the key when it comes to free agency, but Blythe’s performances should mean the Rams do not go out of their way to re-sign him.
The Rams are going to face tough decisions on their defense
The Rams are looking at five unrestricted free agents in 2021, with three expected to be tough decisions.
Leonard Floyd, Edge Rusher
Week 17 saw Leonard Floyd celebrating his 10th sack of the season, but he is set to leave the Rams this offseason. Floyd will remain on the Rams books in 2021 despite potentially playing elsewhere. In his original deal, Floyd had two void years built into his contract. Therefore, he will count at least $1.33 million against the cap in the next two years.
Given that Floyd just had a career year in terms of sacks, tackles, and QB hits, his asking price will likely be higher than the Rams can afford. However, Floyd could be a contender for the franchise tag.
John Johnson, Safety
After an injury-plagued 2019, Johnson reemphasized his importance to this offense. As the only player to play every defensive snap, Johnson logged 105 combined tackles and an interception. Those numbers are a solid return, as is his 69 percent completion rate allowed. However, when it comes to yards per target, only one safety posted better numbers than Johnson’s 4.9.
However, given the Rams cap situation, it is tough to see how they can bring Johnson back. He has been a valuable piece of the defense but is likely someone the Rams can replace in the draft. If they decide to keep Johnson, he could be a name they consider for the franchise tag.
Troy Hill, Cornerback
Troy Hill has made some splash plays this season. He leads the league in interception return yards and touchdowns. Those sort of highlight plays will make him a valuable player among the Rams’ 2021 free agents. He ranked 24th-worst at the position in terms of completion percentage allowed but allowed just 7.1 yards per target.
Playing opposite Jalen Ramsey can be tough as teams look your way plenty. Hill did a good job in that role but is now likely to be looking for top cornerback money. With Ramsey already on a big deal, Hill will likely have to leave to find a big payday. However, if the Rams are keen to keep their CB duo, they may decide that Hill is a good target for the franchise tag.
Who are the other free agents?
The other two unrestricted free agents on the defense are Samsom Ebukam and Derek Rivers.
Ebukam put up a second-straight 4.5 sack season but could not build on his career year in 2019. Derek Rivers will hit free agency after being claimed by the Rams off waivers in 2020. Rivers has struggled with injuries and is looking for a chance to prove himself, having been a third-round pick in 2017. Therefore, the Rams may be willing to give him another opportunity, but it will likely be on a veteran minimum type deal.