A year ago at this time the Rams were the team every sports writer, analyst, and expert was talking about. They were the buzz of the NFL as they signed star after star. The Rams brought in not one, not two, not three, but four superstars to the team in the 2018 off-season.
The players were WR Brandin Cooks, DT Ndamukong Suh, CB Marcus Peters, and CB Aqib Talib. It was a historic off-season for the Rams and these acquisitions helped lead the team to a 13-3 regular season record and a super bowl appearance.
Up to this point in the 2019 off-season the Rams have had only one major addition to the team. However, the addition was giant one as the Rams added 6 time pro bowler and 2 time first team all pro safety Eric Weddle. The Rams signed Weddle to a 2-year deal worth up to 12.5 million dollars. Bringing in Weddle gives the Rams a 34-year-old veteran safety who has been productive his entire career. In his 12 years as a professional, Weddle has 1,067 tackles, 29 interceptions, 94 pass deflections, and 37 tackles for loss. Weddle is a very smart safety who is effective against the run as well as the pass and he will be a big help to the Rams secondary.
Weddle will take over the free safety position that was held by LaMarcus Joyner the previous two seasons. After it was clear Joyner was not returning for next season, the Rams went out and acquired Weddle on a reasonable and affordable deal. Joyner ended up signing with the Raiders for 42 million over 4 years (a much more expensive deal than Weddle’s). Not only did the Rams save cap space by signing Weddle over extending Joyner but they also found a player who is as talented if not more talented than Joyner. The big question mark with Weddle is his age as he will be 34 at the start of next season. If Weddle is able to stay healthy and productive these next two seasons, then the deal will turn out to be a great one for Los Angeles.
Another signing the Rams made this off-season was bringing back edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. Dante Fowler was originally acquired midway through last season from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was brought in as a player to help the Rams playoff push and he did just that. In the eight regular season games with the Rams Fowler accumulated 21 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, and 5 QB hits. However, in the three postseason games with the Rams Fowler had 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, and 3 QB hits. He also made many big plays including hitting Saints QB, Drew Brees, in overtime that forced an interception. Fowler impressed the Rams management and ownership in his brief stint and was rewarded by receiving a one year “prove it” deal. The deal is worth 14 million and although that seems expensive, the Rams ended up saving 1.4 million by not putting the franchise tag on Fowler. The Rams are hoping that Fowler can prove himself this season and become the edge rusher the Rams defense desperately needs.
Besides Weddle and Fowler, the Rams have not made much noise in free agency. Unfortunately, the Rams were not able to bring back offensive guard Roger Saffold as he was too expensive. Saffold decided to accept an offer from the Tennessee Titans where he will be getting paid 44 million dollars over 4 years. Saffold had an exceptional year last season and will be missed greatly.
Another free agent who most likely will not come back to Los Angeles is defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Although Suh is still a free agent the Rams are skeptical that he will also be too expensive to re-sign. Look for the Rams to find cheaper options at these positions as free agency continues.
Featured Image: Gary Klein/LA Times