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What moves do the Rams need to make on defense and special teams?

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The new league year is upon us. NFL free agency period begins on March 17 at 4 p.m. EST and opens the 2021 league year. It’s when the Los Angeles Rams can officially trade quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. 

Following the trade announcement, the Rams addressed their most pressing need. However, they still need to make a few moves before the season begins on Sept. 10. Luckily the Rams are pretty much set on defense and special teams. Compared to the offense, there are fewer needs on these three teams. 

PC: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Starting with special teams, the Rams struggled with their place kicker through the beginning of the season. They took a risk starting the rookie Samuel Sloman, but they found a place kicker in Matt Gay. Through his first start against the Tampa, Buccaneers went 16 for 16 on extra points and 14 for 16 on field goals. He also made his lone field goal from 50 yards or longer.

All three Rams place kickers are free agents; luckily, they only need two on the roster. Gay’s a restricted free agent this offseason and will have to resign him. But he’s a great kicker worthy of continuing where he left off in 2020.  

The Rams could also use some help on kick and punt return. However, it’s not an offseason need but a draft day one. The Rams could use a second returner but don’t need to sign a free agent. It’s better to get a promising rookie late in the draft and let him get reps on special teams. It would also reduce our reliance on starters like Cooper Kupp and Darrell Henderson. 

The Rams already have a championship-caliber defense. However, six starters, including John Johnson, are free agents this season. The Rams will have to make some tough decisions on who to keep. It comes down to how much money they’ll have to spend. The Rams are $35 million over the cap. 

PC: Abbie Parr / Getty Images

The Rams’ first move they need to make on defense is to restructure Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald’s contracts. They would also need to restructure Kupp and Robert Woods’s contracts and extend Matthew Stafford right off the batt to free up enough money to resign the defensive talent. 

The next thing is to address where to use the franchise tag. The Rams should tag Johnson or Leonard Floyd. The Rams have depth in both positions, and they’ll be looking for big contracts this offseason. The only problem is they’ll also field options from other teams, many of which have the cap space to sign them to the contracts they’re looking for. 

The best option for the Rams is to tag Floyd. The Rams have depth at both linebacker and safety. However, Jordan Fuller has emerged as a starter in his rookie season. There’s also other proven talent behind him, with Taylor Rapp, Terrell Burges and Juju Hughes rounding out the position. The latter two were also rookies.

PC: Bill Streicher / USA Today Sports

Losing Johnson is a blow to the defensive core. However, we haven’t seen much from other linebackers at the position. In terms of backups, they only have Micah Kiser and Samson Ebukam. Ebukam is also a free agent and should be another player they resign. 

Finally, looking at the players, they need to resign and should focus their attention on Darious Williams for sure. He’s a restricted free agent and will likely be a cheaper resign compared to Troy Hill who’s an unrestricted free agent. Williams proved he has an eye for the ball leading the Rams with four interceptions.

Hill would be a luxury if they can resign him, however, they can do without him. There are some key players on offense the Rams need to be resigned before they can add extra pieces with their limited cap space.

Featured Image: Mark Brown / Getty Images

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