Los Angeles Rams Rumors & News

Redskins Considered Letting Kirk Cousins Test Free Agency

Earlier this offseason, the Redskins were “of a mind” to let quarterback Kirk Cousins hit free agency in order to let the open market determine his financial value, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Washington’s view on Cousins has seemingly changed now that Cousins backers Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are now in head coaching positions and could theoretically take a run at the Redskins quarterback, per Breer.Kirk Cousins (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2017 Franchise Tag Candidates]

Progress between Washington and Cousins has been slow in recent weeks, and within the Redskins’ front office there is some “internal resistance” to the concept of using the franchise tag on Cousins for the second consecutive season. Per Breer, some Washington executives believe that giving Cousins nearly $24MM for the 2017 campaign would hinder negotiations with the sixth-year pro, as Cousins would be unlikely to accept a lower annual salary after setting $24MM as a baseline.

In sum, the Redskins seem incredibly unlikely to allow Cousins to reach free agency, and will probably use the franchise tender if now long-term deal is reached. Washington’s concern over San Francisco poaching Cousins if he heads to the market unfettered aren’t unfounded, as Cousins is reportedly Plan A for the 49ers at quarterback. A Los Angeles pursuit makes less sense, as the Rams just drafted Jared Goff first overall in last year’s draft.

In his two years as a starter, Cousins has helped the Redskins to plus-.500 seasons – including a 9-7, NFC East-winning showing in 2015 – while flourishing statistically. Cousins is coming off a year in which he completed 67 percent of passes, nearly reached the 5,000-yard mark (4,917), and tossed 25 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RB Zac Stacy Retires From NFL

Running back Zac Stacy is done with football. On Thursday afternoon, Stacy announced his retirement via InstagramZac Stacy (vertical)

[RELATED: Jets’ Darrelle Revis Injured In Altercation]

[I] would like to take this time to show appreciation to all those who have supported [me] and were involved throughout my career. The game of football was more than a game to me. It was a life changer…I am forever blessed and grateful for my many former coaches and teammates throughout the years, the resources and relationships that I’ve built playing this game…and the numerous opportunities that I received on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (and the occasional Monday night) to do what I love to do, and that’s to play the game of football.”

Stacy entered the league as a fifth-round pick of the Rams in 2013. As a rookie, he showed great promise as he gained 973 yards on the ground. In his follow-up campaign, he amassed just 293 yards rushing. After two years with the Rams, he landed with the Jets and saw his career 3.9 yards-per-carry average plummet to 2.9 yards per attempt. In July of 2016, he was cut by the Jets and we didn’t hear much about him after that. Now, he’s moving on to the next chapter.

Opinion: Rams Can't Lose Johnson

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates


Starting today, NFL teams will be able to place franchise and transition tags on potential free agents for the first time. While the window for franchise tags is open, most clubs won’t actually tag any players right away.

As our list of important dates for the 2017 offseason shows, the deadline for teams to assign those tags doesn’t come until Wednesday, March 1st. Usually, when it comes to NFL contract discussions, deadlines spur action, so teams will wait until that deadline approaches to officially use franchise tags, once it becomes clear that they won’t be able to strike a longer-term deal yet with their respective free-agents-to-be.

Even though the action might not heat up for a couple more weeks, it’s worth taking a closer look at what to expect during 2017’s franchise tag period. The NFL hasn’t officially announced the salary cap figure for 2017, but former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com recently projected the 2017 franchise tag salaries based on a presumed $168MM cap. Here are the expected non-exclusive franchise tag amounts:

  • Quarterback: $21.395MM
  • Running back: $12.377MM
  • Wide receiver: $15.826MM
  • Tight end: $9.894MM
  • Offensive line: $14.444MM
  • Defensive end: $16.955MM
  • Defensive tackle: $13.468MM
  • Linebacker: $14.754MM
  • Cornerback: $14.297MM
  • Safety: $10.961MM
  • Punter/kicker: $4.863MM

(For a refresher on the characteristics of the exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags, as well as the transition tag, be sure to check out PFR’s glossary entry on the subject.)

Here’s our look at the most likely candidates to be tagged, along with several more outside possibilities:

Virtual Locks:

Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals: Maybe Jones should headline a category titled “Super Duper Virtual Locks.” In January, coach Bruce "<strongArians said that the Cards would apply the franchise tag to Jones if they were unable to immediately lock him up to a long-term deal. Then, just this week, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill offered additional confirmation of that plan. The $16.955MM tag will be applied to Jones in the next couple of weeks and the two sides will then have until the summer to work out a long-term deal. The odds of a longer pact coming together seem pretty good, considering the Cardinals knew what they were getting themselves into when they traded for Jones last year.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits that Short will “probably” be tagged and, unlike ex-teammate Josh Norman, Short doesn’t have a problem with it. The 28-year-old was the third-best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Panthers will gladly pay him ~$13.5MM on a one-year deal. A multi-year agreement could require an average annual value of $17MM, so our early guess is that Short will wind up actually playing on the tender.

Le’Veon Bell
, RB, Steelers: We’ve known for a while now that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on Bell. For all of his off-the-field headaches, Bell still stands as one of the league’s most dynamic running backs and a one-year, $12.3MM deal would suit Pittsburgh just fine. Sometime after the tag is in place, we’re expecting the two sides to agree on a long-term deal. As I wrote in our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings, Bell will top LeSean McCoy‘s ~$8MM AAV and Doug Martin‘s $15MM in guarantees on a new multiyear pact. Of course, other factors such as cash flow will be pivotal in talks, particularly given the limited shelf life of running backs.
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Rams Notes: Phillips, Gurley, Peete

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will implement his famed 3-4 scheme with the Rams in 2017, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes in an excellent piece describing the planned transition. Robert Quinn will likely see the most change as a result of the switch, as the longtime defensive end will shift to outside linebacker. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, however, will continue on as a three-technique, while the defense as a whole figures to feature more man coverage, per Gonzalez.

  • Rams running back Todd Gurley lobbied for new head coach Sean McVay to retain RBs coach Skip Peete, and Los Angeles will do just that, according to Gonzalez. “When you’ve got a key player like that, you want to try to demonstrate that you’re going to listen,” said McVay. “Their opinion matters.” Gurley, of course, struggled in 2016 after a dynamic rookie campaign, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry last season, a 50% reduction from the year prior. Peete, meanwhile, will return for a second season with the Rams, working under McVay and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.

Sean McVay Eager To Coach Greg Robinson

A new Rams coaching staff seems ready to give Greg Robinson another chance. Despite being benched late in a woeful third season, the underwhelming tackle remains a “big part” of the Rams’ plans going forward, Sean McVay said.

Robinson committed a league-high 31 penalties between the 2015-16 seasons. The former Auburn tackle is entering the final season of his rookie deal, and the Rams have a fifth-year option decision coming on him soon.

Samson Brown Not Joining Rams

  • New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has lured yet another former Falcons staffer to San Francisco, as ex-Atlanta assistant Mike LaFleur will be the 49ers’ next wide receivers coach, tweets Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. LaFleur, who spent the previous two seasons with the Falcons after working in Cleveland during the 2014 campaign, is the brother of Matt LaFleur, who recently left Atlanta to become the Rams’ offensive coordinator. The 49ers also announced they’ve hired Nick Kray (administrative assistant to the head coach), T.C. McCartney (offensive assistant), and Ray Wright (strength and conditioning).
  • Broncos assistant defensive backs backs coach Samson Brown had been set to join ex-Denver coordinator Wade Phillips on the Rams‘ coaching staff, but he’s experienced a last-minute change of heart and will be staying in Denver, per Marvez (Twitter link). It’s unclear how Brown’s decision will affect longtime NFL coach Johnnie Lynn, who was reportedly hired to replace Brown with the Broncos.

Five Teams Interested In WR Pierre Garcon

At least five clubs are expected to express interest in Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, who reports the Rams, Eagles, Bears, Cowboys, and 49ers are among the teams intrigued by the veteran pass-catcher. Garcon, for his part, would prefer to return to Washington, but as of earlier this week, the Redskins have not engaged in contract talks with the 30-year-old.Pierre Garcon (Featured)

[RELATED: Top 3 Offseason Needs — Washington Redskins]

Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco are all engaged in various stages of rebuilding, and as Jones notes, each club would view Garcon as a “security blanket” as they continue to develop young quarterbacks. In the case of the Bears and 49ers, of course, that youthful signal-caller is likely not yet on the roster, but the Rams’ Jared Goff and Eagles’ Carson Wentz could each use new weapons as they head into their second NFL campaigns. Of the four clubs mentioned here, none finished higher than 16th in offensive DVOA in 2016, with Chicago leading the way and Los Angeles — dead last at No. 32 — rounding out the list.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, are in a different boat altogether, and are squarely in the 2018 Super Bowl conversation following a season that saw the breakout of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, continuous excellence from the offensive line, and viable receiving threats that allowed the unit to rank third in DVOA. However, with both Terrance Williams and Brice Butler scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency next month, Dallas could be on the lookout for a dependable No. 2 wide receiver, a description that Garcon ably fits.

In his ninth NFL season, Garcon led the Redskins in both receptions (79) and receiving yards (1,041) while managing three touchdowns, and finished 10th in DYAR and 15th DVOA among wideouts. Coming off a five-year deal signed in 2012, Garcon averaged an $8.5MM salary during his time with Washington.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Hire Matt LaFleur As OC

The Rams have announced the hiring of Matt LaFleur as their offensive coordinator. LaFleur previously served as the Falcons’ quarterbacks coach. Matt LaFleur (vertical)

[RELATED: Falcons Hire Steve Sarkisian As OC]

LaFleur is widely credited with helping to develop Matt Ryan. Long considered a solid starter, Ryan put it all together this past season en route to an MVP award. Pro Football Focus’ metrics also ranked Ryan as the No. 2 QB in the game, putting him behind only Tom Brady, whose Patriots knocked off Ryan’s Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

LaFleur worked with new Rams head coach Sean McVay while the two were with the Redskins. McVay picked his defensive coordinator a long time ago, but it seems that he waited specifically so that he could hire LaFleur. After molding Ryan into a beast, LaFleur’s next task will be to get the most out of 2016 No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. While Goff showed flashes in his rookie season, the youngster is still largely green. The right tutelage will go a long way toward helping his progress, but the Rams will also have to improve their offensive line in order to maximize his time in the pocket.

The 37-year-old LaFleur has worked as an offensive assistant at both the collegiate and professional levels, with his most recent college job coming as the Notre Dame quarterbacks coach in 2014. He served in the same capacity with the Redskins from 2010-2013.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported that the Rams would hire LaFleur. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

The Beat: ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez On The Rams

Now that the regular season is over, we’re chatting with beat writers from around the league to gain insight on each team’s offseason and how those moves will impact the season ahead.

This week, we caught up with Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com to discuss the Rams. You can follow Alden on Twitter @alden_gonzalez and check out his stories here.

Zach Links: After a wide-ranging search, the Rams hired the youngest coach in NFL history. Do you think the 31-year-old Sean McVay will prove to be a smart hire? 

Alden Gonzalez: I think he’s going to make their offense better – it can’t be any worse – and I think the players are going to like him. I think they’re going to feed off his energy. The question is how quickly McVay can adapt to all the responsibility that comes with being an NFL head coach, from managing a game to handling a locker room to orchestrating practices. On top of all that, McVay will call the plays on offense. But he could not have made a better hire than the 69-year-old Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator. McVay basically only has to worry about one side of the ball. Sean McVay

Young coaches have been very hit and miss throughout NFL history. John Madden, Don Shula, Mike Tomlin and Jon Gruden succeeded. Lane Kiffin, Raheem Morris, David Shula and Josh McDaniels did not. It’s a pretty remarkable leap of faith for what is perhaps the most important coaching hire in Rams history. But I give them credit for trying to hit a home run, and I’m trying not to get caught up on the date of McVay’s birth certificate. If he were five years older and had the exact same resume, I don’t think anybody would be making a big deal about it. He sure doesn’t act 31.

Zach Links: Before the start of the 2016 season, you told us that Jared Goff “needs to be more decisive, he needs to take care of the football and he needs to do a better job of picking up blitzes.” What have you seen from him in those areas? How do you feel about him heading into 2017?

Alden Gonzalez: Clearly he didn’t do any of that. Goff put up a 22.2 Total QBR that was by far the worst among those who made at least seven starts last season. He made poor decisions, missed easy throws and didn’t display very good presence in the pocket. But he also faced a ton of pressure, threw to an underwhelming group of receivers and ran an offensive scheme that was, for all intents and purposes, systematically broken.

So, I don’t think it’s totally fair to judge Goff just yet. I do like his arm. He’s more mobile than I expected, and many have raved about how mentally tough he is. Occasionally he also made impressive throws downfield. But he has a lot to prove and has a longer road ahead of him at this point than the Rams might have hoped. McVay’s offense is very quarterback friendly, so now is when we’ll start to see how good Goff can be.

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