The first big 2023 offseason gamble for the Los Angeles Rams already occurred on Thursday, February 23: Parting ways with captain and Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner after just one season. The move officially clears up $5 million in cap space, but they still remain in the red per Over The Cap.
Time will tell what other aggressive moves general manager Les Snead and company will make to get the Rams financially healthy. But the Rams also just positioned themselves for this needed move: Finding a stout replacement for “B Wags.”
It won’t be easy for L.A. considering the body of work Wagner has delivered, including in his lone season with the Rams. But the Rams will have some options to look into as a way to not only offset the loss of Wagner, but win over Rams fans again. Two names mentioned have this that should win over Snead, head coach Sean McVay and other prominent Ram figures: They have Super Bowl experience.
Here are some intriguing and integral options the Rams can look into in both free agency and the NFL Draft.
Free Agent Targets
If the Rams want to maintain tradition and make a splash free agent addition, it’ll again be dependent upon how much money they can clear up. But for this 2023 free agency cycle, there will be some intriguing names out there, particularly these names:
Lavonte David: The longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneer is FanDuel’s No. 2 ranked free agent ILB and coming off a 124-tackle season in 2022, making it the ninth time in his career he’s surpassed double digit tackles. The 2020 Super Bowl winner may be 32, but the Rams took in Wagner at that age last season and he still delivered. David is the best available from an experience standpoint.
T.J. Edwards: He’s the other with past big game experience. Except his came on February 12 of this year with the Philadelphia Eagles. Edwards is a younger option at 26 and is coming off his best season to date with a career-best 159 tackles, 99 solo stops and 10 tackles for a loss…in a contract year. He’ll likely command a higher value (Spotrac is projecting $11.9 million annually and a four-year, $47.9 million for his next deal), but if the Rams want to get younger at ILB than Edwards is the best option.
Drue Tranquill: He’s a nearby candidate, having starred for the Chargers. And, the 27-year-old saw his tackle stats increase under former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley the last two seasons — so he already has knowledge of this Rams defense if brought over. He may not command an expensive deal either, with Spotrac predicting one-year for $4 million.
Darkhorse options: Though not a household name, Alex Singleton could intrigue for two reasons — delivering career-best tackle marks in a Rams style defense under Ejiro Evero with the Denver Broncos and being from the Rams’ practice city of Thousand Oaks. Alex Anzalone also put together his best season while with the Detroit Lions, who could get a good word from former Rams scout Brad Holmes…now the Lions GM.
If the Rams pivot here, they’ll have to wait until day two of the draft. And that could be where the most options lie including two with West region ties:
Noah Sewell, Oregon: The younger brother of 2021 Lions first rounder Penei, this Sewell plays with his own set of brutality on defense. Pro Football Network described his game as explosive and one who runs through “whoever is foolish enough to stand in the way.”
Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama: While he starred in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), To’oTo’o is originally from Sacramento and starred at state powerhouse De La Salle. He’s considered a slow reactor to plays and has coverage lapses, but makes up for it with closing speed and being a good technician as described by nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein, who adds he can develop into a starter.
Dorian Williams, Tulane: If the Rams want someone who thrives in coverage, the Green Wave ILB is the best option as he was given an 82% coverage grade by NFL Draft Buzz. But he’s violent toward crack blocks like this one versus Oklahoma. He’s disruptively quick as a blitzer too. He could be a late round find in the sixth round.