The NFL hung a sign outside its Park Avenue offices in New York…”Open for Business”….all this while the country was shutting down and moving into the Social Distancing era in the midst of the horror of the Virus-Crisis.
The first 3-days of free agency have seen 81-players change teams, and the execution of 6-off season trades so far.
The shelves have been picked clean, much like those in your supermarkets. There will be a few more name signings, but not many key players are left. At last glance only 9-of the top 75-free agents are still on the board, some franchise tagged, the large majority of rest having signed with new teams.
The Rams and Chargers will be different for sure once training camps open and free agency and the draft close.
At first glance, the Rams are paying a price now, for paying the price they paid the last couple of years to get good, get to the Super Bowl.
Up against the salary cap, starting free agency with just 15M in cap space and 7-key players on the open market, they have taken a hit.
The Rams have lost LB-Dante Fowler, DT-Michael Brockers, LB-Corey Littleton, CB-Nikell Robey-Coleman and S-Eric Weddle.
Gone too was legendary Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips.
GM-Les Snead and Coach Sean McVay had to go thru gruesome meetings to try and configured how to deal with the cap crisis. End result, they didn’t get it done.
Rumors they tried to trade RB-Todd Gurley and his 63M-contract, and couldn’t. If they had been able to find a way to get players like Jared Goff, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Aaron Donald to give back money, maybe there would not be this blood letting now.
They signed just one free agent, ex-Chicago Bears disappointing first round pick Leonard Floyd. He surely cannot replace what they lost.
The exit of Brockers, Fowler and Littleton devastates the teams big play capabilities. There are so many holes on the defense now, you wonder if they can be considered a division winner any longer.
They managed to re-sign OT-Andrew Whitworth and OG-Austin Blythe and the offense will still be strong. The other side of the ball, doubtful.
And by the way, they’ve traded away a ton of future first round draft picks and still have a mega money deal they must work on, if they want to retain Jalen Ramsey in a year or so.
They paid a price to get good, but I always wondered when the
‘true bill’ came due, how bad it would be, and this is bad..
On the other side of what will be So Fi Stadium, the Chargers are going thru transition.
Philip Rivers is an Indianapolis Colt, Russell Okung wil wear Carolina Panthers colors, Melvin Gordon will sign somewhere else. Veteran DT-Brandon Mebane and LB-Thomas Davis are gone too as is FB-Derek Watt.
The Bolts have made deals, short term rentals if you will.
Bryan Bulaga, a warrior type OT-comes from Green Bay, but brings a history of being hurt. OG-Trai Turner came in the Okung trade from Carolina, his resume showing him a so-called 5-time Pro Bowler, but he was ranked the 69th best guard in the NFL last year.
Somehow the Vikings axed massive DT-Linval Joseph, a run stuff tough guy inside, who could be a steal of the offseason. Longtime CB-Chris Harris exited Denver and signed with the Chargers, and gives the team another proven solid fixture in what shapes up as a great secondary.
But without Rivers, and with the likely Gordon exit, it will not be the same offense. Tyrod Taylor can manage games, but he is just (23-21) as a starter in this league. The run game will have Austin Ekeler and the power back in Justin Jackson. The wide receiver group seems shallow alongside retaining TE-Hunter Henry.
If they had kept Okung to pair with Bulaga, it would have been rock solid bookend offensive tackles, to go with all the kids they are trying to develop. Tell me you have a trustworthy left tackle this morning, and I will tell you you are lying to me. But there is time to add.
1-thing for certain, the Chargers personality will be different. You better be prepared to get hit, because that is what Bulaga, Joseph and Harris do, punish people.
The draft will bring them the QB of the future, likely Justin Herbert of Oregon, and likely more with the other high picks they get in rounds 2-3-4.
As we sit here right now, the Rams will be a much weaker team than they have been in the past. The Chargers will take on the image of a street fighter rather than a pretty boy come opening day.
For one it might be bad in LA, for the other it might be better in LA. But neither play an opening day game for months.
The Rams and Chargers, it sure looks, feels different right now. Check with me after the draft and I will tell you if it is better or worse.