The 4-11 Los Angeles Rams will have some interesting decisions to make this offseason. With nearly $41 million in cap space the Rams will have to make some key decisions with their 2017 free agents. This is because in 2018 they will have Aaron Donald, Alec Ogletree, and Greg Robinson all being potential free agents.
This upcoming Rams free agent class has some key players in Trumaine Johnson, TJ McDonald, Kenny Britt, Greg Zuerlein, and Benny Cunningham. All five of those players should be re-signed, especially Johnson and McDonald due to the lack of good depth in the secondary.
Johnson was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft, the same draft the Rams got Janoris Jenkins in. This past offseason, the Rams chose to go with Johnson over Jenkins as they placed the franchise tag on him.
An issue the Rams have had for years is good depth in their secondary, as they have been forced to start inexperienced corners such as Troy Hill and Michael Jordan when guys such as Johnson and EJ Gaines have been injured.
A big issue for Johnson has been his ability to stay on the field and he has played in 36 of 47 possible games in his last three seasons, including this season. However, Johnson has shown he can play well when healthy as he was able to shut down the now retired Calvin Johnson last season.
In 2016 Johnson has slowed down when it comes to creating turnovers as he has a lone interception coming off of a season in which he had seven. Johnson is a good physical cornerback, maybe a bit too aggressive at times but he does do well in the run game.
Overall, the Rams cannot afford to lose a guy like Johnson, especially with the way the team is set up. The big issue is how much money will he want after getting the franchise tag worth nearly $14 million.
The former USC Trojan and third round pick in the 2013 draft is wrapping up his fourth year in the NFL. The hard-hitting safety has played in every game for the Rams this season and has one interception along with five pass deflections and 46 tackles.
McDonald has never been a guy who makes the flashy interceptions or just the big plays in general. Just like Johnson he is a physical player and likes to lay the lumber along with many on the Rams defense.
McDonald was part of a great safety duo last year with Rodney McLeod and has been able to do a solid job with Maurice Alexander by his side. In a similar boat as Johnson, McDonald is almost a must re-sign with the lack of quality depth in the Rams secondary.
Bringing in Kenny Britt was probably one of the best things Jeff Fisher did for the Rams. Fisher brought in the troubled Tennessee Titans wide receiver and in his third year with the Rams is the team’s first 1,000 yard wide receiver since Torry Holt in 2007.
This season Britt has set career highs in targets, receptions, and yards. In six games Britt has had 75 of more receiving yards and has been targeted ten or more times in four games.
For years the Rams have been searching for a true number one wide receiver and they might have found that in the 28 year old Britt. All of these numbers are being put up with below average quarterbacks as well, just imagine if Jared Goff comes out in 2017 doing what the Rams expected of him when he was drafted.
A big, tall receiver who has shown he can produce is a must re-sign for the Rams. If they can find a solid number two to go along with Britt and Tavon Austin, the team will have a nice receiving core for the future to help Goff.
Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein had a rough season in 2015 as he made just 20/30 field goals. This season, Zuerlein has been much more accurate as he is 17/20 this season, and his three misses have comes from forty or more yards, two from beyond fifty yards.
With a struggling Rams offense it has been hard for Zuerlein to get as many opportunities to make field goals, but his strong leg is still a force to be reckoned with. Accuracy is still a work in progress as his career field goal percentage is 79.1%, but he has been a solid kicker aside from 2015 and one could make the argument for 2012.
Cunningham has been dependable as a kick returner and as the backup to Todd Gurley this season. Despite only having 21 carries, Cunningham was able to rush for 101 yards, which is 4.8 per carry. That along with 16 receptions for 91 yards is solid for the Middle Tennessee State alum.
The kick return game is where Cunningham shines ever brighter. This season Cunningham returned 22 kicks for an average of 27.2 per return, which is fifth best in the NFL. While he is not the flashiest player, he gets the job done and gets it done right. Cunningham should be re-signed to help relieve Todd Gurley during games and do his good work on special teams in the return game.