Safety Mark Barron, whom the Rams acquired in a trade before the deadline in 2014, is also a first-round pick from the 2012 NFL draft. Barron played in nine games for the Rams, mostly in a de facto linebacker role in the Rams' "big nickel" package.
That small sample size wasn't enough for the Rams to feel comfortable picking up Barron's option.
"We also elected not to exercise Mark Barron’s option," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday. "That wasn’t our option -- just for the record -- that was Tampa’s option we traded for. We felt like Mark’s important to us. We felt from a big picture standpoint we would be better suited to try to re-do and extend his contract prior to that deadline.”
There are two reasons why the Rams chose that approach.
As the seventh pick of the 2012 draft, Barron's option would have required the Rams to pay him the average of the 10 highest-paid safeties in the NFL. All top-10 picks are subject to that same amount when teams exercise the fifth-year option so if the Rams had executed the option, his 2016 salary would have been $8.263 million.
In other words, the type of money that would make exercising the option too burdensome.
"Yes, that’s correct," Fisher said. "Again, that was Tampa Bay’s deal with him. We acquired it, but now we have the option so we have every intention of getting him done.”
Perhaps it would be different if Barron had played more and the Rams had a better idea of what he can do. He played just 166 snaps for the Rams last year and had 19 tackles, three sacks and a pass breakup.
As the season went on, Barron received more opportunities but the Rams still have some work to do in sorting out his role moving forward. With safeties Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald in place as the starters, Barron's job centers on sub-packages with most of his time spent near the line of scrimmage.
Even without the option, the Rams can now get a full season from him, see how he best fits and re-sign him during or after the season.