Rams roster check: A look at each position group ahead of free agency

Rams running back Cam Akers dives for a touchdown.
Cam Akers, diving for a touchdown against the Seahawks last season, is the Rams’ top returning running back, a position the team will look to fortify this offseason.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Since returning to Los Angeles from St. Louis in 2016, the Rams never shied from making bold moves. General manager Les Snead seemingly thrived on turning the NFL on its head with huge trades and free-agent signings.

Yet Snead said last week that despite “DNA” that drives the Rams to “attack, hit the gas,” they are going to “hit the brakes a little bit.”

So as the NFL’s negotiating period for unrestricted free agents begins Monday, the Rams will probably make more headlines for the players cut loose than those they might acquire.


Veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner and edge rusher Leonard Floyd already were released, and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and receiver Allen Robinson could be out the door next via trade or release.

By Wednesday, the start of the new league year, the Rams must be under the $224.8-million salary cap. Cuts and restructured contracts will get them there as the Rams and coach Sean McVay prepare to bounce back from a horrible 5-12 season.

Here is a look at the Rams roster as they enter free agency:

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The Rams are not in the market for a starter. Matthew Stafford, 35, will carry a cap number of $20 million this season before ballooning to $49.5 million in 2024. The Rams need a backup — and Baker Mayfield is a free agent seeking a starting opportunity. John Wolford and Bryce Perkins are restricted free agents. The Rams might fill a spot with a low-priced free agent or possibly draft a quarterback for the first time since 2016.


Running backs

The Rams could explore acquiring a veteran running back. Cam Akers, whom the Rams attempted to trade last season, will carry a cap number of nearly $2 million in the final year of his rookie contract. Kyren Williams was sidelined for most of his rookie season because of injuries. Ronnie Rivers started one game last season. Ron Gould is the new running backs coach.


Receivers/tight ends

Receiver Cooper Kupp has the team’s highest cap number at $27.8 million and is coming off an ankle injury that forced him to sit out the latter part of the 2022 season. Robinson, the Rams’ big free-agent acquisition last season, did not pan out. Van Jefferson enters the final year of his rookie contract. The Rams are expected to remain in play for free agent Odell Beckham Jr. Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek are going into their third seasons. Tight end Tyler Higbee has a cap number of $9.1 million. Fourth-year tight end Brycen Hopkins has improved but has not proved he can be a front-line player.


Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford congratulates receiver Cooper Kupp after connecting with him for a touchdown.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Cooper Kupp will try to recreate their sensational 2021 numbers after the team’s lackluster 2022 season.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Offensive linemen

Despite the subpar performances and injuries that ravaged the line last season, the Rams probably won’t dive heavily into the first wave of free-agent linemen. Rob Havenstein, the only starter who played every game last season, has a cap number of $9.7 million. Left tackles Joe Noteboom and Alaric Jackson, center Brian Allen and guards Logan Bruss and Tremayne Anchrum are coming off injuries. Guard David Edwards and guard/center Coleman Shelton are free agents. Ryan Wendell is the new offensive line coach.


Defensive linemen

Star Aaron Donald, coming off an ankle injury, remains the centerpiece with a cap number of $26 million. Tackles A’Shawn Robinson and Greg Gaines and versatile lineman Marquise Copeland are free agents, so Snead will be in the market for rotational players to surround Donald. Defensive line coach Eric Henderson needs young players such as tackle Bobby Brown III and Earnest Brown IV to step up.

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Outside linebackers

The Rams released 2022 sacks leader Floyd on Friday — and incurred a $19-million dead money hit. Without Floyd, converted lineman Michael Hoecht is now the most formidable pass-rushing threat. So the Rams will be seeking help, probably midlevel free agents and certainly in the draft. McVay and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris are counting on assistant Chris Shula to develop the position group.


Inside linebackers

Following the release of Wagner, third-year pro Ernest Jones takes over the defense. Jones will carry a cap number of $1.3 million at a position the Rams have not traditionally paid premium salaries. Jake Hummel and Christian Rozeboom are other inside linebackers on the roster.


Defensive backs

Ramsey is due to carry a cap number of $25.2 million. Troy Hill and David Long are free agents, so second-year pros Cobie Durant and Derion Kendrick will have more opportunities. The Rams could explore adding a veteran in free agency, and add depth through the draft. Safeties Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp are free agents. Jordan Fuller is due to carry a $2.8-million cap number in the final year of his rookie contract. Second-year pros Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake are the other safeties.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey returns an interception from the end zone.
Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, returning an interception last season, might be released or traded in a salary-cap move.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)


New special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn could have an entirely new group. Kicker Matt Gay, a Pro Bowl selection in 2021, punter Riley Dixon, long-snapper Matt Orzech and kick returner Brandon Powell are free agents.