The Rams have a number of notable players on the defensive side of the ball that are scheduled to be free agents when the new league year begins in March later this year. Quite a few of those players also happened to experience their first breakout season in the NFL under new Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.
Below, I’ve listed four future free agents for the Rams who could follow Staley across town to the Chargers.
OLB Leonard Floyd
2020 stats(16 games, 16 starts): 55 total tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, 10.5 sacks, one pass deflection, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries
The Chicago Bears waited four years for something to click with their former first-round pick in Floyd. Unfortunately, that switch didn’t get flipped until he was with the Rams and Staley somehow knew right where to look for it.
In his lone season thus far in L.A., Floyd recorded a career-high 10.5 sacks, 3.5 better than his previous high mark, while becoming the most-disruptive player up front for the Rams not named Aaron Donald.
Should Staley attempt to implement a base 3-4 defense, or at least add in a good amount of it’s principles, than a player such as Floyd could come in and see some success. The team does have edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu waiting in the wings, but Floyd still possesses greater upside than the Chargers’ former second-rounder and has the edge in familiarity with Staley’s system. With the team likely losing Ingram this offseason, Floyd could be an excellent addition that would also allow the Chargers to use one of their top picks elsewhere, as well. Behind offensive line and cornerback, edge rusher is my next-highest priority.
Floyd signed a one-year $10 million deal with the Rams ahead of 2020, so the downside may be that he’s looking for an even bigger pay day on his next contract.
CB Darious Williams
2020 stats (16 games, 10 starts): 44 total tackles, one tackle-for-loss, 14 pass breakups, four interceptions
If you thought Floyd had a breakout year for the Rams in 2020, then take a look at Williams.
Prior to 2020, the 26-year old had career totals of 15 tackles, two interceptions, and four pass breakups. In this season alone, he led the team with four interceptions and 14 pass breakups. In the Rams wild card victory over the Seahawks, Williams picked off Russell Wilson and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. It was a beautiful play that showed his immense level of preparation as he essentially knew what was about to happen before the ball was even snapped.
The Chargers love themselves a former undrafted free agent, so why not go after Williams and his natural play-making ability, especially within the very system run by the team’s new head coach?
OLB Samson Ebukam
2020 stats (16 games, 14 starts): 31 total tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks, one pass deflection, forced fumble
In 2019, in just five starts, Ebukam posted a career-high 4.5 sacks with five tackles for loss. This year, as a full-time starter, he posted another 4.5 sacks but saw his TFLs dip down to three and his total tackles fall from 48 to 31.
Ebukam has always been a solid player for the Rams, whether in extended time or in a rotation up front. His first three years (2017-2019) saw increased outputs in all major categories and 2020 was more-or-less the same as ‘19, which still isn’t a bad thing. As an outside linebacker in a 3-4, he’s equally effective as a pass rusher and in coverage up and around the line of scrimmage. He may never be a doubles-digit sack guy, but he’ll be serviceable and display a high motor in just about everything you can ask of him.