Advertisement

Rams part with starters Mark Barron and John Sullivan, but both could return

Rams part with starters Mark Barron and John Sullivan, but both could return
Rams inside linebacker Mark Barron was a key player for a defense that limited the New England Patriots to one touchdown in the Super Bowl. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

The Rams’ roster reshuffle has begun.

Veteran linebacker Mark Barron was released Tuesday, and the team will not exercise its option on center John Sullivan, according to people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Rams also let the deadline for franchise-tagging a player pass.

Advertisement

Barron, 29, was a key player for a defense that limited the New England Patriots to one touchdown in the Rams’ 13-3 Super Bowl defeat.

But the seven-year veteran also has undergone several shoulder and Achilles surgeries in the last two years, and he sat out the first four games of last season. Barron was due to carry a salary-cap number of $9.6 million in the fourth year of a five-year, $45-million contract he signed before the 2016 season, according to overthecap.com.

Sullivan, 33, signed a two-year, $12.5-million contract before last season that included $3.25 million in guarantees. He would have had a cap number of $6.25 million next season.

Rams center John Sullivan started all 16 games last season and all three playoff games, including the NFC championship against the New Orleans Saints.
Rams center John Sullivan started all 16 games last season and all three playoff games, including the NFC championship against the New Orleans Saints. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

Barron and Sullivan will test the free-agent market — the NFL’s “legal tampering” period for agents to shop free agents begins Monday — but there is a possibility that both could re-sign with the Rams at lower salaries.

When general manager Les Snead was asked about Barron, Sullivan and defensive lineman Michael Brockers (who carries a cap number of $11 million for next season) at last weekend’s NFL scouting combine, he did not offer specifics about their situations.

“In any of those, what we like to say is, with this offseason planning is, we’ve got to figure out us, right?” Snead said. “Who is right for us, for all the variables you’re talking about, for 2019 and then for future seasons.

“Because that’s a part of the puzzle. That’s the budget that we’re dealing with. Those are the internal discussions going on presently, to make sure we put the best version of the Rams, the 2019 Rams, on the field, also taking into effect that there are future seasons as well.”

Inside linebackers will be one of the Rams’ priorities in free agency and the April draft. Cory Littleton, who was voted to the Pro Bowl for special teams, is the starting middle linebacker and a pending restricted free agent. Ramik Wilson and Bryce Hager will be unrestricted free agents. Second-year pros Micah Kiser and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo also are listed on the roster as inside linebackers.

Brian Allen backed up Sullivan as a rookie last season. Starting right guard Austin Blythe also can play center.

Sullivan, a 10-year veteran, was part of an offensive line that started every game last season. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, 37, announced last month that he would return for the final season of his contract, which carries a salary-cap number of $16.7 million. Left guard Rodger Saffold, 30, is set to test the market as an unrestricted free agent.

That also will be the case for edge rusher Dante Fowler, who was regarded as potential candidate for the franchise tag. Snead said Fowler was “the domino” that would affect how the Rams address the edge-rushing position.

“We know what he can bring to the table,” Snead said, “and if he’s not there, there is a void there, and how are we going to fill it? Is it going to be from within or without?”

Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, safety Lamarcus Joyner, running back C.J. Anderson and backup quarterback Sean Mannion are among other pending unrestricted free agents.

Advertisement
Advertisement