Why the Wait?
Due to a league-low amount of available cap space, the Rams had to get creative and be patient with the signings of Leonard Floyd and A’Shawn Robinson. Originally reported to have each been signed to two-year contracts, now only Robinson’s deal will be that long. Floyd’s contract will be a one-year “Prove-it” deal, similar to the one signed by Dante Fowler Jr. just last season. In order to create the cap space, the Rams converted some of Jared Goff’s 2020 salary into a signing bonus, freeing up around $7 million. The Rams also did the same thing with Rob Havenstein, saving $1.3 million.
While the rams worked on the salary cap issue, another issue arose unexpectedly. Both Floyd and Robinson were originally seen to be the replacements up front for Fowler Jr. and Michael Brockers. But when Brockers’ three-year $30 million deal with the Ravens fell through due to concerns about his ankle, the Rams swooped in. They were able to bring him back in the fold for what equates to a two-year $15 million deal. This brought forth questions about whether one or both of Floyd and Robinson would no longer be needed. The Rams put that to bed on Friday by announcing both signings.
How Did The Rams Improve?
The Rams now boast an extremely formidable unit upfront. According to PFF, both Floyd and Robinson were above average players when it came to defending the run in 2019. If you add in Micah Kiser–who has not played in two years in the NFL but was known as for his run-defense in college– that’s three of their front seven that are being replaced with above-average run defenders. The Rams run defense was a problem last year. It started out terrible and finished at 14th, right around the middle of the pack. The Seahawks and 49ers aren’t going to change their style of play anytime soon. So, in a division with two of the best running teams in the league, run-defense is going to be critical.
What Work Still Needs To Be Done?
While the Rams certainly upgraded against the run, their team speed definitely took a hit. Known for their run-defense, will the new additions be the perfect compliment to Aaron Donald and Samson Ebukam? Or will the decrease in speed too much to make up for? Those are questions that they can possibly address in the draft. Getting a speedy linebacker to play inside next to Kiser may be that move. The team could look internally. At times, Travin Howard has covered Tight ends–and Kenny Young was brought over in a trade with the Ravens last season. The Rams may like both of them, but neither seems to have the speed of “Today’s NFL Linebacker”. After missing out on the top linebackers in the first two days, my prediction is that the third day of the draft may be their best bet.
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