In Los Angeles, a fire sale could be commencing soon. But this one could get the Los Angeles Rams to capitalize.
Daniel Popper, Chargers insider for The Athletic, detailed some telling nuggets on Friday, February 3 that point to a roster blow up for the ‘Bolts — including mentioning six “possible cap casualties.” One name he mentioned that’ll grab the attention of members of the “Rams House?” Edge rusher and seven-time Pro Bowler Khalil Mack being the No. 1 cut candidate.
Mack suddenly becoming available had Alex Kay of Bleacher Report on Monday, February 6 believing the decorated Mack “would fit well” with three teams if it’s not the Chargers…with one of the options the Rams.
“It’s conceivable Mack will want to land with a potential contender. A ring still eludes his decorated career. The seven-time Pro Bowler would fit well with teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns, especially if he’s willing to sign a more team-friendly deal than his current contract,” Kay wrote.
Why Mack Could Get Moved
Popper points out that the Chargers are in a tight situation involving the salary cap for the upcoming free agency cycle. How tight? The NFL Network reported that the league informed teams that the salary cap will be $224.8 million. The Chargers, per Popper, are $23,431,642 over the cap.
When the Chargers made the blockbuster deal to acquire the three-time All-Pro Mack last offseason, they also took on his hefty salary from the Chicago Bears.
“The Chargers will need to cut players to become cap compliant. They must clear that $23.43 million to get under the cap and have space to sign their 2023 draft picks,” Popper wrote.
By deciding to move on from Mack, the Chargers can save themselves $18.4 million pre-June 1, then $22.9 post savings after June 1.
Mack Can Still Perform at High Level & Would Give the Rams a Missing Element From 2022
Though the defense was the strength and kept the Rams in their games for 2022, it became noticeable that missing an extra valuable edge rusher hurt them in stretches.
Outside of sack leader Leonard Floyd, the Rams only got a combined two sacks from the rest of their edge rush room. Things were so depleted that defensive tackle Michael Hoecht moved to that spot. But adding Mack, even as he nears 32, would help reignite this pass rush.
Mack went on to improve his sack totals to eight with the Chargers after notching six in his final season with the Bears. His 12 tackles for a loss was also his most since the 15 he snatched in his final season with the Oakland Raiders in 2017.
And Mack delivered his most recent sacks playing in a Rams-style defense constructed by former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. So crossing over to the Rams wouldn’t be much of a drastic change if it were to happen. Kay of B/R not only mentioned how the ’23 cycle is lined up to be a good market for the edge position especially for cost-effective options like Mack, but Kay believes that Mack proved there’s still plenty left in the tank.
“While the nine-year veteran may not fit in L.A.’s future plans, he would have no shortage of suitors if the team parts ways with him. His 71.1 PFF (Pro Football Focus) grade for 2022 was a career-low, but that is still a respectable score and indicates he probably has some good years left in the tank,” Kay wrote.
The last time the Rams had to turn to a edge rusher in his early 30s, Von Miller helped catapult the Rams to their second Super Bowl win. If the Rams want to recapture the same magic, Mack would be fitting if he becomes a cap casualty in L.A. And just imagine a front seven featuring Floyd, Mack, Bobby Wagner and Aaron Donald back on board for 2023.