NFL teams
Lindsey Thiry, ESPN 41d

Los Angeles Rams free-agency overview: Find a deep threat and pass-rusher

The Los Angeles Rams enter 2021 NFL free agency coming off a 10-6 season in 2020 and have 12 unrestricted free agents. With the salary cap expected to drop significantly, the Rams must find creative solutions in free agency with three key defensive starters -- outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, safety John Johnson III and cornerback Troy Hill -- ready to test the market, as well as starting center Austin Blythe. As for what positions the Rams could be looking to add to their roster going into 2021, they must find a deep-threat receiver, solidify the pass rush and build depth at corner.

Here's what to expect from the Rams when the NFL offseason kicks into high gear with the start of free agency on March 17:

QUARTERBACK

Under contract: Jared Goff, John Wolford

UFA: Blake Bortles

Game plan: In an agreed-upon deal that will become official at the start of the new league year, the Rams traded Goff, a 2021 third-round pick and 2022 and 2023 first-round picks to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Wolford is expected to remain the backup.

RUNNING BACK

Under contract: Darrell Henderson Jr., Cam Akers, Xavier Jones

UFA: Malcolm Brown

Game plan: Akers emerged down the stretch as a feature back and is expected to maintain the role in 2021. "Cam hit his stride at the right moments," coach Sean McVay said. "I think he's an every-down back." Henderson will provide a change of pace when needed and Brown will test the market, but could return for a seventh season as an insurance policy.

WIDE RECEIVER

Under contract: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Trishton Jackson, Nsimba Webster

UFA: Josh Reynolds

Game plan: With the addition of Jefferson last season, Reynolds' time with the Rams appears to be over. Expect the lanky receiver, who is coming off a career-high 618 receiving-yard season, to sign elsewhere. The Rams must find a consistent deep-threat receiver who can stretch the field, which is something they've lacked since trading Brandin Cooks last offseason.

TIGHT END

Under contract: Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins

UFA: Gerald Everett

Game plan: The Rams did not need to select a tight end in last year's draft but couldn't resist picking Hopkins in the fourth round. Hopkins did not play on offense his rookie season but is expected to move into a role behind Higbee in 2021 with Everett likely to depart in free agency.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Under contract: Andrew Whitworth, David Edwards, Austin Corbett, Rob Havenstein, Joe Noteboom, Brian Allen, Bobby Evans, Tremayne Anchrum Jr., Chandler Brewer

UFA: Austin Blythe

Game plan: Blythe has proven his versatility since the Rams claimed him off waivers in 2017. He's started at guard and has solidified a role at center the last two seasons. With an unusual free agency market because of the salary-cap drop, Blythe could remain in the Rams' budget. "He's definitely somebody that we appreciate, we value," McVay said.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Under contract: Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Greg Gaines, A'Shawn Robinson

UFA: Morgan Fox, Derek Rivers

Game plan: Donald, Brockers and Robinson account for three of the Rams' top 10 salary-cap numbers in 2021, so this is not a position where they will be able to spend a significant amount to retain or add any players. An undrafted free agent in 2016 from Colorado State-Pueblo, Fox is coming off a career-high six-sack season.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

Under contract: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Terrell Lewis, Justin Hollins, Justin Lawler

UFA: Leonard Floyd, Samson Ebukam

Game plan: McVay said near the end of the season that Floyd was a player he wanted to return in free agency. But after a career-best season, the Rams will certainly face competition when Floyd tests the market. He tallied a career-best 10.5 sacks last season.

INSIDE LINEBACKER

Under contract: Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder

UFA: none

Game plan: All inside linebackers remain under contract, with Travin Howard an exclusive rights free agent. Kiser, who was sidelined for five games last season because of a knee injury, is expected to remain a starter alongside Young.

CORNERBACK

Under contract: Jalen Ramsey, David Long Jr.

UFA: Troy Hill

Game plan: After intercepting three passes and scoring three defensive touchdowns last season, Hill proved himself as a playmaker and will test the market. The Rams will closely monitor Hill's situation in attempt to re-sign him. Darious Williams, a restricted free agent, is likely to be retained, while Long will be expected to step in if Hill departs.

SAFETY

Under contract: Terrell Burgess, Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott, JuJu Hughes

UFA: John Johnson III

Game plan: Johnson played a key role in the secondary the last four seasons but is among the top free agents at his position. He would like to remain in L.A., but expect him to earn a significant payday elsewhere. In his absence, expect Fuller and Rapp, who dealt with ongoing injuries last season, to step up.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Under contract: K Matt Gay, P Johnny Hekker

UFA: LS Jake McQuaide

Game plan: The Rams signed longsnappers Colin Holba and Steven Wirtel to reserve/future contracts over the offseason with McQuaide, a nine-year pro, set for free agency.

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