Ranking the Rams’ 7 biggest needs this offseason

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Cameron DaSilva
·5 min read
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The Los Angeles Rams are facing a difficult offseason in 2021, seeing several of their starters hitting free agency while likely being over the cap at the same time. Re-signing players will be a challenge, as will bringing in marquee free agents when the market opens in March.

Fortunately, the Rams don’t have many pressing needs on their roster heading into next season. There are still holes to fill, of course, but several positions are set up nicely for the immediate future.

Here are their seven biggest needs this offseason, ranked in order of importance.

Inside linebacker

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

The Rams all but ignored this position group last offseason and although it didn't cost them much, it was still the weakest spot on the roster. Micah Kiser began the year as the primary starter but suffered injuries that limited his availability to only nine games in the regular season and zero defensive snaps in the playoffs. Troy Reeder was decent as Kiser's backup when he took over, but he didn't make enough impactful plays and wasn't great in coverage – a critical part of playing linebacker in today's pass-happy NFL. Kenny Young had a pick-six against the Patriots, but outside of that, his impact was minimal, too. Whether it's in the draft or free agency, the Rams must add talent to the inside linebacker unit this offseason, specifically a rangy defender like Cory Littleton was for Wade Phillips.

Edge rusher

(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

The Rams had the second-most sacks in the NFL this season, led by Aaron Donald's 13.5 and Leonard Floyd's 10.5. But this doesn't mean the Rams' edge rushers were effective outside of Floyd. The next-closest outside linebacker in sacks was Samson Ebukam with 4.5, followed by Justin Hollins (3.0) and Terrell Lewis (2.0). And for the most part, those players weren't winning their pass-rush opportunities. They had some sacks land in their laps due to pressure generated by Donald, Floyd and Morgan Fox. The Rams need better edge rushers, especially with Floyd likely to leave in free agency. Ideally, Hollins, Lewis and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo will improve, but that's far from a sure thing.

Center

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Austin Blythe got better this season after moving from guard to center, but the Rams now face some uncertainty in the middle of their line with Blythe hitting free agency in March. He's unlikely to take another one-year deal after doing so last offseason, so the Rams might have to extend him long-term or risk losing him. He was at least average at center this season, which was an upgrade over Brian Allen in 2019, but he allowed four sacks and was pushed back too often against more powerful interior rushers. Allen is still on the roster in case Blythe leaves, but he's better suited as a backup after struggling two seasons ago.

Quarterback

(AP Photo/Scott Eklund)

Jared Goff's four-year contract extension hasn't even kicked in yet, running from 2021-2024. He's set to make $33.5 million per year on that deal, with a potential dead cap hit of $65.5 million if the Rams cut him this offseason. So why exactly is quarterback a need? Because Sean McVay and Les Snead seem ready to move on from Goff. Neither committed to him as the starter and wouldn't even say he's guaranteed to be on the roster in 2021. John Wolford could compete for the starting job if Goff isn't traded, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, so the need for a quarterback may not be as pressing. But regardless, they need better play from the most important position in sports. Whether that's from Goff, Wolford, Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson or a rookie from the draft, the need is still there.

Cornerback

(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

Jalen Ramsey is the only starting cornerback guaranteed to be on the roster in 2021. Troy Hill will hit free agency in March, and Darious Williams will be a restricted free agent, too. Williams will be easy to retain with a first-round tender, but Hill is far from a certainty to be back in Los Angeles. If Hill does leave and Williams re-signs, the Rams will still have a void at cornerback, specifically in the slot. David Long Jr. has played two seasons as a 2019 third-round pick, but he hasn't proved to be anything more than a backup so far. Terrell Burgess could also step in and be a nickel defender, but depth is needed. I fully expect the Rams to sign or draft another cornerback this offseason, especially if Hill leaves in free agency. You can never have enough defensive backs in today's NFL.

Speed at wide receiver

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Wide receiver isn't necessarily a pressing need for the Rams, but finding a dynamic playmaker who can win downfield absolutely is. They have enough wideouts to win underneath with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and even Van Jefferson, but they lack a field-stretcher like Brandin Cooks was. Jefferson has some speed but the Rams need someone who can take the top off of a defense – someone like John Ross or Kenny Stills. D'Wayne Eskridge also possesses that ability in the draft and should be on the Rams' radar. Regardless of how Los Angeles gets it done, this offense desperately needs more explosive players, especially at wideout.

Offensive tackle

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Andrew Whitworth is signed through 2022 and both he and the Rams have expressed interest in continuing their partnership next season. That's good news, but it shouldn't preclude the Rams from adding reinforcements at both offensive tackle positions. Rob Havenstein could be a cap casualty this offseason with the Rams projected to be way over the cap, and although Bobby Evans is an option, the team would be wise to add some competition. Most importantly, they must find a future replacement for Whitworth. Joe Noteboom's contract will expire after the 2021 season, too, which complicates things further. The Rams don't need to spend their top draft pick on an offensive tackle, but they shouldn't ignore the position altogether this offseason.

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