With the preseason wrapped up, NFL teams are going to have to reduce their roster to 53 players. Players that have been making plays in the fourth quarters of preseason action might never lace up their cleats again. Sometimes, joy is followed by sadness, and that’s what will transpire over the next 24 hours and some as players will be released or traded.
Throughout the preseason, I have highlighted true roster bubble players, rookies and new players on the Los Angeles Rams’ roster. Instead of talking about the slate of players that have been mentioned as trying to make the roster, it’s time to talk about veterans that could have played their last snaps on the Rams roster.
LB Mark Barron (release or trade)
Barron has been a surprise since he joined the Rams via trade in 2014 and transitioned into a linebacker. Barron is not an amazing technician, but he is a good tackler and was a good coverage linebacker. Last season, Barron grabbed three interceptions, four pass deflections and 86 total tackles.
Releasing Barron would save the Rams $7m, and if he is traded it appears that the team would save $9m. I’m a big fan of Barron but I am encouraged by the play of the new inside linebackers such as rookie Micah Kiser and veteran Ramik Wilson With Cory Littleton calling plays on defense. The Rams would miss Barron. but maybe this is what would be needed to help clear the way for Aaron Donald’s return.
RB Malcolm Brown (release)
With the emergence of 2018 NFL Draft sixth-round rookie RB John Kelly, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Rams released the veteran and just went with Kelly and Justin Davis. Brown has been a fan favorite throughout his tenure with the Rams with his smash mouthbrand of football, but Kelly brings more to the table as a player as a potential threat in the passing game as well. The Rams could keep Brown, or they could have more depth on the DL or OL.
S Lamarcus Joyner (trade)
The Rams respected Joyner enough to deem him a franchise-caliber player designating their 2018 franchise tag towards the safety and allowing new Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins to change the market at receiver.
Joyner was a force in his first year as a starter at safety creating four turnovers, nine pass deflections and 49 combined tackles and ranked as an elite safety by Pro Football Focus grading out at a 90.3:
If the Rams could find a trade partner for Joyner, it would increase their cap situation by more than $10m. However, finding a trade partner would be tough. If not traded, it is unlikely that he will be re-signed. On the other hand, if he has another solid season the Rams should be able to obtain a high compensatory pick for him in the 2019 NFL Draft.
WR Josh Reynolds / WR Mike Thomas (release or trade)
Both young wide receivers have flashed some talent, but that talent has not translated to the field in major quantities. Both players have a role as backup players on the roster and could be an asset if a starter such as WR Robert Woods goes down for an extended amount of time which given his history isn’t unthinkable. But do the Rams need both players on the roster? The team could likely gain a 6th- or 7th-round pick in a trade. There is a small possibility in one of them being released.
DL Ethan Westbrooks (trade)
Westbrooks has been a mainstay on the defensive line as rotational player since joining the Rams. He might be a notch below a starter, but he makes his mark on the field finishing last season with four sacks.
The only reason to trade Westbrooks would be to acquire draft picks. With the depth on the defensive line, it would be interesting if the Rams decided to deal Westbrooks. Most NFL teams could use a player of his caliber, and it could result in a 4th- or 5th-round choice. Although it may be tough to imagine the Rams trading him, the team did trade former starting insider linebacker Alec Ogletree and pass rusher Robert Quinn.
EDGE Ejuan Price (release or trade)
Price is an interesting case. With ability to rush the passer in college, he battled injuries and made the Rams’ practice squad last year though he wasn’t really mentioned after.
This preseason, he has been a stud. Price has been making the most of the preseason demonstrating the ability to rush the passer and showing he could develop into a solid rotational player. Teams need pass rushers. Although the Rams could keep him, Price is a player that is kind of on the bubble.
Are there any candidates that I missed? Who do you think could be a surprise release or trade? Sound off in the comments.