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Troy Hill is a hot-and-cold player in Los Angeles, and Rams fans’ feelings are reflective of that. Sometimes he looks like an absolute playmaker, and at other times, he’s giving up big plays in coverage.
But as is the case with most cornerbacks, the good comes with the bad. It’s just that with Hill, that’s multiplied because rarely does he seem to have just an average day.
Hill will become an unrestricted free agent on March 17 and given the Rams’ need at cornerback, he should be someone they try to retain. But will they be able to afford him after a mostly positive season in 2020?
(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
3 interceptions (2 returned for TDs)
10 pass breakups
1 forced fumble
2 fumble recovers (1 returned for TD)
PFF grade: 74.2
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Hill once again endured an up-and-down season. He got off to a slow start as he transitioned to a new role as the Rams’ primary slot corner. He was giving up big plays, missing tackles at a high rate and struggling to stick with quicker corners inside. But then he turned things around as he gained a level of comfort in the slot. The Rams also moved Jalen Ramsey around, which allowed Hill to play outside, as well. For as many poor plays as Hill made, he came back with several great ones, too. In total, he scored three touchdowns and was constantly around the ball. He still needs to improve as a tackler and his hands aren’t the best, but Hill finds himself in position to make plays – even if those plays are just breakups instead of interceptions. This play encapsulates Hill’s season. He’s in a good position, but he bobbles the pass before securing it and taking it to the house. https://twitter.com/RamsNFL/status/1345864874312695809 With Hill, you have to take the good with the bad. And in 2020, there was more of the former than there was the latter. Ramsey credited Hill for allowing him to have the All-Pro season that he did because of his position flex. Without a guy who could play inside and out like Hill, Ramsey likely would’ve been stuck outside.
Positional need: High
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Ramsey is the only starter who’s certain to be back. Hill will hit the market, and Darious Williams will be a restricted free agent. Williams should return, but there could be a hole at cornerback if the Rams are unable to return him or Hill. David Long Jr. is a former third-round pick who could contribute in 2021, but he hasn’t necessarily proven to be a starter up to this point. Without a first-round pick, too, the Rams could have trouble finding a starter who brings the value that Hill does, if he leaves in free agency. The secondary was the heart and soul of the defense last season and breaking it up could prove costly.
Prediction: Signs two-year, $13 million deal with Rams
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The Rams know the value that Hill brings to the defense with his playmaking ability and versatility in the secondary. He’s been in their system for several years now and has proved capable of being a solid starter. That being said, they should try to retain him so long as he doesn’t command a big contract. Hill may never be a Pro Bowler but quality slot corners are hard to find so he would be tough to replace. By retaining Hill, it would give Long more time to develop before possibly becoming a starter later on.