NFL free agency is off and running, and we’re keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2021 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins March 17 at 4 p.m. ET, which means free-agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2021 NFL draft begins April 29 on ESPN.
The Rams enter free agency with limited resources due to a reduced salary cap and they’ve already made difficult decisions regarding their own pending free agents.
“We are well aware that we’ve had to have some calls with a subset of our unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents and let them know our intent, whether we were going to be attempting to resign them or assuming they’re going to have a better market than what we would be able to pay,” general manager Les Snead said.
With pass rusher Leonard Floyd, safety John Johnson and center Austin Blythe entering free agency, watch for the Rams to seek reinforcements at those positions while also looking for a deep-threat receiver for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
What it means: Before the end of the 2020 season, coach Sean McVay made it clear that Floyd was a defensive standout who the Rams wanted to retain in free agency. Playing on a one-year, prove-it deal last season, Floyd put together a career-best effort with 10.5 sacks. He also had a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. His return to the Rams not only ensures a veteran presence on the edge, but helps enable production on the interior for three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.
What’s the risk: Floyd performed inconsistently in four seasons with the Chicago Bears before the Rams signed him in free agency last season. Floyd’s move to L.A. reunited him with Brandon Staley, who served as his position coach for two seasons in Chicago. However, after producing the NFL’s top-ranked defense in 2020, Staley — who brought out the best in Floyd — has moved on and there could be some concern about Floyd’s future production without him. However, the Rams are expected to keep Staley’s scheme intact with some minor tweaks, which should allow Floyd to continue to thrive.