Rams try to plug some offensive holes while also making a trade and clearing cap space

Rams try to plug some offensive holes while also making a trade and clearing cap space
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth has played all 11 of his NFL seasons with Cincinnati but will sign with the Rams as a free agent. (Winslow Townson / Associated Press)

The Rams did not go excessively deep — on the field or into their pocketbook — in their attempt to upgrade what has been the NFL's worst offense.

They did, however, add two solid players Thursday that should be key pieces for new Coach Sean McVay and his staff.


The Rams addressed major needs at the start of free agency by agreeing to terms with receiver Robert Woods and left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

In moves with salary-cap implications, the Rams agreed Thursday night to trade veteran defensive end William Hayes. They also released center Tim Barnes, tight end Lance Kendricks and defensive end Eugene Sims.

The Rams traded Hayes and a seventh-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for a sixth-round pick. Hayes, 31, has played nine NFL seasons, the last five with the Rams. With bonuses, he was due to earn about $5.5 million this season, according to

"Will has been an integral member of our defense since he became a Ram in 2012," Rams General Manager Les Snead said in a statement. "His passion set the tone for our defense and served as an example for his teammates. Off the field, he showed compassion as he was a major contributor to the St. Louis and Los Angeles communities, working to improve the plight of the homeless. We wish Will and his family the best of luck in all of his future endeavors."

Kendricks was due to earn $3.75 million, Sims $2.75 million, Barnes $2.25 million.

Woods, 24, is expected to sign a five-year deal that could be worth $39 million if he reaches all incentives. Whitworth, 35, is expected to sign a front-loaded three-year deal that could be worth $36 million.

The players are scheduled to take physicals in Los Angeles on Friday morning and sign contracts later in the day before they are introduced to the media.

Though Woods and Whitworth are 11 years apart in age, both are regarded as highly disciplined players with outstanding work ethic who can lead by example.

"You hear us talk about 'the culture of we, not me,' " McVay said last week at the NFL scouting combine. "We want guys that are character guys that respect the process, that are pro's pros, if you will."

The Rams, coming off a 4-12 finish in their return to Los Angeles, were in desperate need of receivers and linemen to complement second-year quarterback Jared Goff, the top pick in the 2016 draft.

In a free-agent receiver class that included marquee names such as Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson, the Rams early on had targeted Pierre Garcon. The veteran had produced for the Washington Redskins while McVay was the team's tight ends coach and then offensive coordinator. But new San Francisco 49ers Coach Kyle Shanahan, another former Redskins coordinator, also targeted Garcon and the 49ers gave him a deal reportedly worth $16 million in its first year.

The Rams, on the hook for the four-year, $42-million extension they gave Tavon Austin before last season — and with about $22 million in cap space — were not about to go that high.

McVay has described Austin and running back Todd Gurley as "two explosive playmakers, and you can never have enough of those guys."

The 6-foot, 190-pound Woods could be another, though his NFL resume to this point does not denote a No. 1 receiver designation.


Woods grew up in Carson, played at Gardena Serra High and became USC's all-time receptions leader before he was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Buffalo Bills.

He has 203 receptions for 2,451 yards and 12 touchdowns. Last season, he caught 51 passes for 613 yards and one touchdown in 13 games, including two receptions for 26 yards in a victory over the Rams at the Coliseum.

He appears pleased to return to the stadium where he starred in college.

"Back in the Coli!" he tweeted Thursday.

Woods joins a position group now devoid of Kenny Britt, a 1,000-yard receiver in 2016 and new member of the Cleveland Browns. Woods and Austin — the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft — are the most experienced players in a group that includes special teams standout Bradley Marquez and second-year pros Pharoh Cooper, Mike Thomas and Nelson Spruce.

Whitworth, 6-7 and 325 pounds, has played his entire 11-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals, mainly at left tackle and left guard. The former Louisiana State standout has started 164 games and is a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

Whitworth, now the Rams' oldest player, will fortify a line that last season failed to clear the way for Gurley, the 2015 NFL offensive rookie of the year, and allowed Goff to be sacked 26 times in seven games.

Greg Robinson, the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, has struggled at left tackle. Whitworth's signing could portend Robinson's move to another position.

Reporters last week asked General Manager Les Snead about a position switch by Robinson.

"Whether he's left tackle, left or right guard, right tackle — all of those things are probably on the table," Snead said.

Had the subject been broached with Robinson?

"I don't know if we ever sat down with Greg and said, 'Yay or nay, are you for this or not?' " Snead said. "There's different body types that play those positions, and there's not many people with Greg's body type on the planet, and those guys usually fit at tackle.

"You'd love for it to start there and then go from inside."

The release of Barnes leaves the Rams in search of a center.

Demetrius Rhaney worked at the spot last season but the Rams are expected to seek help through free agency and the draft.