Grading the Rams' in-house focus in free agency

Placing the franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson took a big chunk out of the Rams' cap space. Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The Los Angeles Rams made it quite clear before free agency began that their focus would be on keeping their own and supplementing with outside players who probably wouldn't break the bank.

As it turned out, that's exactly what's happened with a couple of deviations from the plan in the form of safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Janoris Jenkins departing for Philadelphia and the New York Giants, respectively.

Of course, that approach hasn't won over many fans who were looking for the Rams to use some of that cap space to make a splash and improve a lagging offense. ESPN's Bill Barnwell looked at what he called the free-agent "stragglers" on Friday and offered a thought on whether that approach was working for each team that opted to use it.

Barnwell doesn't believe in the Rams' moves so far, writing that placing the franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson took a big chunk out of their cap space and he referred to the $45 million contract for linebacker Mark Barron as "curious." Barnwell also wonders why the Rams didn't work to upgrade the offensive line and sums up the lack of additions there as a disappointment.

As I've written in this space a number of times, this free-agent period was always going to put the Rams in a tough spot. They wanted to keep their key free agents but most of those players play defense, which inherently meant that most of their money would be spent on the side of the ball that didn't need serious help. At the same time, it's not like there were a lot of offensive difference makers available on the free-agent market, either.

Still, it's hard not to question whether there was at least one or two complementary pieces they could have found to give the Rams some sort of incremental offensive improvement somewhere along the way.


A roundup of the weekend's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... Boxer Gennady Golovkin plans to wear Rams colors in his next fight to welcome the team back to Los Angeles. ... The Rams still have plenty of needs as free agency starts to settle down. ... The team's time in St. Louis is almost at its end. ... Saturday's mailbag explored what Quinton Coples brings to the Rams. ... New Rams passing game coordinator Mike Groh will have a tough job in front of him this year, we discuss in Sunday's mailbag.


NFL Nation columnist Kevin Seifert writes that the NFL's approach to educating fans on the catch rule is the wrong idea.

Robert Griffin III paid a weekend visit to the Cleveland Browns.

Here's a piece on the retired jersey numbers for all 32 NFL teams.

Todd McShay has five takeaways from Cal quarterback Jared Goff's pro day.

The Agoura Hills Acorn reports that the Rams are closing in on office space for their business side in Agoura Hills.

The Ventura County Star says that Thousand Oaks is still waiting on the Rams to announce their practice facility site.

At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas writes that the NFL is looking closer at sportsmanship issues.