Part of the 2023 offseason for the Los Angeles Rams includes figuring out what happens next for their 2019 NFL Draft class, as those players officially have their entry level deals expiring.
That includes one defensive leader from the 2022 season Taylor Rapp — whose four-year and near $4.7 million deal is heading toward its end. Now is an even more critical offseason for the former second round selection out of Washington, especially after Rapp led all defensive backs including cornerbacks with 92 tackles.
Pro Football Focus analyst Brad Spielberger wrote on Tuesday, January 24 that Rapp is the one member of the Rams the team “can’t afford to lose,” believing Rapp has earned his right to remain in the “Rams House.”
“Rapp finally had the type of season the Rams were hoping for when they selected him in the second round out of Washington back in 2019, but the flashes were always there,” Spielberger wrote. “Rapp earned career-high grades against the run (82.3) and in coverage (72.9) and missed just six tackle attempts en route to 70 tackles and 14 defensive stops in 2022.”
Analyst Adds Rams Shouldn’t Have Repeat of Former Star Safety’s Situation
There’s another reason why Speilberger believes the Rams and Rapp should work on a lengthier relationship: What happened to a past star safety on the Rams.
“The Rams may not want to spend more in the secondary, letting safety John Johnson III walk two years ago,” Spielberger said.
Johnson III became a beloved fixture in the Rams secondary during the early years of the Sean McVay era. Johnson III became the 100-tackle presence in the secondary with delivering 119 and 105 stops in 2018 and 2020, respectively. And that production was when the Rams snatched the NFC title in ’18 and fielded the league’s best defense in ’20. Johnson III has since guided the Cleveland Browns defense and is entering the final season of his three-year, $33,750,000 deal he signed with the team.
Spielberger adds how “a cheaper deal for fellow safety Nick Scott perhaps is more appealing,” yet he adds “Rapp has developed into a reliable player on the backend.”
Is Safety a Pressing Need for the Rams?
Again, Rapp is entering free agency. Fellow 2019 draft mate Scott also is an unrestricted free agent.
If the Rams lose both come March 15 when free agency begins, the team will have some significant holes to fill on that backend. The team is expecting to have 2021 captain Jordan Fuller healthy. Outside of him, Quentin Lake and Russ Yeats will be second-year pros. But there’s not much depth after those three and the team also released Terrell Burgess during the season.
For the sake of depth and experience, perhaps general manager Les Snead and McVay can see if they can re-add Rapp and also lure back Scott. A lot will depend on what kind of market both will get and if either or will be in high demand by other teams. Spielberger, though, feels that the Super Bowl 56 champion through his improvement in run/coverage and his back-to-back 90-tackle seasons are enough for the Rams to keep him from drifting off this free agency period.