Rams Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Signed: WR Reece Horn

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

  • Placed on IR: DT Rob Windsor (out for year)

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: TE Carson Meier
  • Cut with injury settlement: TE Jibri Blount

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: DB Chris Cooper

Tennessee Titans

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 7/22/21

We’ll keep track of today’s later round signings here:

Denver Broncos

Los Angeles Rams

Tennessee Titans

Rams Won’t Pursue FA RBs

The Rams have lost Cam Akers for the season, but they’re not about to go shopping for veteran help. On Tuesday, head coach Sean McVay told reporters that he’ll explore his in-house options before approaching the free agent running back market. 

We’ve got some young backs on our roster that I’m intrigued about seeing how they handle this opportunity,” McVay told ESPN Los Angeles (Twitter link). “I don’t know that the veteran route is something that we’d rule out, but it’s not something we’re immediately looking to address right now.”

For now, that means drawing from a group headlined by Darrell Henderson and backed by Xavier Jones, Raymond Calais, late-round rookie Jake Funk, and undrafted free agent Otis Anderson. But, if that group doesn’t cut it in camp, the Rams could open things up to bigger names. Devonta Freeman, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, and Frank Gore are still on the market. And, although it seems unlikely, Todd Gurley is available as well.

Akers, 21, led the Rams with 625 rushing yards last year. Henderson, the de facto starter, came three feet shy of the top spot with 624 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Torn Achilles For Rams’ Cam Akers

Rams running back Cam Akers has suffered a torn Achilles (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). The injury will likely rule him out for the entire 2021 season.

Akers was the Rams’ leading rusher last year, notching 625 yards and two scores on 145 carries. He also caught eleven passes for 123 yards and one TD. Now, Darrell Henderson stands as the Rams’ top RB with support backs like Xavier Jones, Raymond Calais, Day 3 pick Jake Funk, and UDFA Otis Anderson also in the mix.

For what it’s worth, Akers outrushed Henderson by just a single yard in 2020. Henderson finished with 624 yards on the ground and five TDs off of 138 carries. The veteran also caught 16 passes for 159 yards and a score — a virtually identical stat line to Akers’. Still, the Rams were counting on having both players in the lineup and Henderson has injury history of his own.

It’s a bad blow for the Rams, who may seek veteran support in the backfield. Old friend Todd Gurley is still available, but it’s hard to imagine a return to L.A. under head coach Sean McVay. Other stars still on the market include Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, Frank Gore, and LeSean McCoy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 Cap Space For All 32 NFL Teams

There are still plenty of quality free agents left on the board as we look ahead to training camp. Cornerback Steven Nelson, tackle Russell Okung, and longtime Legion of Boom leader Richard Sherman headline the list, along with accomplished edge rushers like Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, and Olivier Vernon. That list will only grow larger, of course, as more teams shed veterans to redirect their funds elsewhere.

With that in mind, here’s a look at every NFL team’s cap situation, starting with the league-leading Jaguars:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars — $32.7MM
  2. Denver Broncos — $28.9MM
  3. New York Jets — $28.5MM
  4. Cleveland Browns — $20.6MM
  5. Los Angeles Chargers — $19.9MM
  6. Detroit Lions — $17.9MM
  7. San Francisco 49ers — $17.8MM
  8. Cincinnati Bengals — $17.4MM
  9. Washington Football Team — $16.7MM
  10. Indianapolis Colts— $14.3MM
  11. Carolina Panthers— $14.3MM
  12. Minnesota Vikings — $13.5MM
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers — $13.1MM
  14. New England Patriots — $13.1MM
  15. New Orleans Saints — $11.4MM
  16. Arizona Cardinals — $11.3MM
  17. Buffalo Bills — $10.5MM
  18. Baltimore Ravens — $8.8MM
  19. Atlanta Falcons — $8.6MM
  20. Seattle Seahawks — $8.3MM
  21. Tennessee Titans — $8.3MM
  22. Kansas City Chiefs — $7.9MM
  23. Los Angeles Rams — $7MM
  24. Chicago Bears — $6MM
  25. Dallas Cowboys — $6MM
  26. Miami Dolphins — $5.3MM
  27. Green Bay Packers — $5MM
  28. Houston Texans — $5MM
  29. Las Vegas Raiders — $3.3MM
  30. Philadelphia Eagles — $3.2MM
  31. New York Giants — $2.4MM
  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — $489K

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Notes: Julio, Jones, Draft, Hurd

The 49ers were in the mix for Julio Jones, which would have reunited the All-Pro wide receiver with his former offensive coordinator. But Kyle Shanahan‘s team is not believed to have made a firm offer for the 10-year veteran, whom the Titans ended up acquiring. All four NFC West teams discussed Jones with the Falcons, and Shanahan — after losing out on Matthew Stafford when the Rams landed him — said he would have been more willing to part with higher-end assets if he believed the Rams were a true threat to land him.

That’s actually the most frustrating thing for me,” Shanahan said during his appearance on The Ringer’s Flying Coach podcast with Sean McVay and Peter Schrager (via RamsWire). “I always say, ‘Let’s do it the right way,’ which, there’s no right way or wrong way, but you don’t want to have to risk your future to compete in one year. And that’s the hardest thing about being in our division because I know how Sean rolls. That’s very similar to me. Julio would have helped everybody, but you know what it’s doing to your organization for that year and the years to come.

That’s a really risky thing, but man, if Sean’s getting him, I’m going to risk that. I know that’s how he thinks, that’s how we all think. You’ve got to compete with your division first.”

The Rams are frequently linked to big trades, having made a few since relocating, but the team’s Robert WoodsCooper KuppDeSean JacksonTutu Atwell wideout depth chart would have made Jones quite the expensive luxury. Here is more out of San Francisco:

  • Another for the “what if?” file: the 49ers did some thorough investigating on Mac Jones. Linked to the Alabama prospect up until draft day, the 49ers reached out to Jones’ high school quarterbacks coach — Kevin Fagan (not the ex-49ers D-lineman) — according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required). Jones and Lance became San Francisco’s final two candidates for their No. 3 overall pick, after the team traded two future first-round picks for the purposes of landing a QB at 3, but the team opted to go with the North Dakota State product.
  • The 49ers are eyeing a slot role for Jalen Hurd, if the former third-round pick can make it to the regular season — something the 2019 draftee has yet to do. As a bigger slot cog, at 230 pounds, Hurd sharing some tight end responsibilities in Shanahan’s scheme may well be on tap, according to The Athletic’s Matt Barrows and David Lombardi. Hurd and former seventh-round pick Jauan Jennings are candidates for this hybrid position. This would be a way for the 49ers not to carry four true tight ends. A former running back at Tennessee who later transferred to Baylor and played wide receiver, Hurd missed his entire rookie season with a back injury and suffered an ACL tear last summer. Jennings, a Hurd teammate at Tennessee before the latter’s transfer, also has yet to play an NFL snap.
  • Although Daniel Brunskill started all 16 games at right guard last season, second-round pick Aaron Banks is expected to take over as the Niners’ first-stringer there this season.

Shanahan: 49ers Aimed To Acquire Matthew Stafford

During a year of major quarterback movement, the 49ers experienced a particularly interesting offseason. San Francisco surrendered a historic haul to move up for Trey Lance. Had the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes ended a bit differently, Lance would be preparing to take the starting reins for another team.

Kyle Shanahan confirmed the 49ers were in the mix for Stafford. The fifth-year HC spent multiple weeks studying Stafford, whom the Lions made available in late January. The 49ers are one of several teams to be interested in the former No. 1 overall pick, but the Rams ended up finalizing an agreement to land him on the night of Jan. 30 — to Shanahan’s chagrin.

I was studying it all. … I remember looking through it because everybody was telling me it was a possibility,” Shanahan said, during an appearance on The Ringer’s Flying Coach podcast with Sean McVay and Peter Schrager (via NFL.com), of a potential trade to acquire the 12-year veteran. “Stafford’s the man. I studied him hard coming out of college, and you always play against him, so you know how good he is.

“But to know he might be available and to spend two weeks really watching him, Sean, yeah, he’s better than I realized.”

The 49ers are not believed to have made a firm offer for Stafford, but the 33-year-old passer knew of San Francisco’s interest. Washington and Carolina did make offers — each involving first-round picks and change — while Denver’s proposal included a first-round pick swap. At least six teams sent the Lions proposals. The Rams ponied up for Stafford to replace Jared Goff, sending Goff, two first-rounders and a 2021 third for Detroit’s longtime starter.

That was frustrating. I was in Cabo,” Shanahan said of the Rams’ acquiring Stafford, who joined McVay in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the time of the agreement as well. “… I remember Saturday I was so stressed out and finally we talked to someone, it was seven at night, and they’re like, ‘No, nothing’s happening (with a trade) at the earliest until tomorrow, so you can finish your night.’

Half an hour later, my buddy calls me and is like, ‘I’m just telling ya, if you want Stafford, you need to get a hold of him right now.’ I’m like, ‘What do you mean? We just talked to people. I can sleep on this. We’ll talk to them tomorrow.’ ‘I’m just telling you, you need to talk to him right now.’ And then it was all over.”

McVay added that the Rams-Lions trade came together faster than he expected. The Rams are now eyeing a five- to eight-year partnership with their recently acquired QB.

January’s Stafford proceedings led the 49ers to look to the draft for a potential upgrade on Jimmy Garoppolo. They joined the Rams in trading their 2022 and ’23 first-round picks for a quarterback, sending those to the Dolphins to move up nine spots for Lance. If the 49ers’ plans go accordingly, the NFC West will feature Stafford-Lance matchups for the next several years. The teams’ competition for Stafford certainly adds intrigue to this rivalry.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andrew Whitworth: 2021 Season Is ‘Probably’ My Last

Andrew Whitworth is the rare NFL player who has been able to consistently stave off father time. But it appears even the ageless Rams tackle might be nearing the end.

Whitworth, 39, appeared on a recent episode of former NFL defensive end Chris Long’s ‘Green Lights’ podcast and said the 2021 season would likely be his last, via Myles Simmons of ProFootballTalk.com. Speaking of a serious injury he suffered during his time with the Bengals, Whitworth said “I was like, if I get through this, I want to try to play until 40. And that was just like — I didn’t think that was realistic or that it’d ever happen. But I was like, I want to try to do that.”

He’s pretty close to making that a reality, as he’ll turn 40 in December. “So this year, to me, it feels like this is it. This is like, I’ve put everything into trying to play this season and play at the level I want to. I feel like this will probably be the end, but I mean, all my closest friends would tell you that I’ve said that for about seven straight years. So I don’t know how believable that is, but it feels like it is,” he explained.

If this really is the end of the road, Whitworth will be wrapping up a remarkable career this season. Drafted by Cincy all the way back in 2006, Whitworth is a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.

He had an MCL tear with PCL damage that cost him the last seven games of 2020, but he still battled his way back to return for the Rams’ playoff run. Despite his advanced age, he’ll be counted on to be a big part of Los Angeles’ new-look offense with Matthew Stafford under center.

Of course, even while saying he’ll likely be hanging up his cleats, the LSU product did leave the door open to potentially giving it another go in 2022.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Marc Bulger Joins The Ravens

Prepared to take Sam Bradford with the first-overall pick, the Rams released long-time quarterback Marc Bulger in 2010. And, eleven years ago today, the Pro Bowler found his next home. On June 23, 2010, Bulger signed a one-year, $3.8MM deal with the Ravens, potentially worth up to $5.8MM via incentives.

Bulger, a 2000 sixth-round pick out of West Virginia, bounced around the NFL during his rookie season, spending time with the Saints and Falcons. He eventually landed on the Rams practice squad, although he was inactive for his entire rookie campaign. He got his first chance to start during the 2002 season following injuries to Kurt Warner and Jamie Martin. Bulger led the team to a 6-0 record to wrap up the year, and he ultimately earned the full-time starting gig in 2003.

Bulger would go on to earn a pair of Pro Bowl nods during his time with the Rams, including a 2006 campaign when he completed 62.9% of his passes for 4,301 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. The Rams inked him to a six-year, $62.5MM extension following that standout campaign, but Bulger’s product dropped soon after. Between 2007 and 2008, Bulger threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and he missed half of the 2009 season due to injury.

Some say Bulger requested his release in 2010, but the Rams had plenty of their own reasons to move on. They had already signed A.J. Feeley to be Bradford’s backup, and releasing Bulger saved the team $8.5MM.

After all of that, Bulger spent nearly three months in free agency limbo. He came to Baltimore to backstop third-year pro Joe Flacco, but he didn’t see the field in 2010. Bulger drew some interest in the spring of 2011, but he ultimately decided to hang up his cleats.

It was an unceremonious ending to a pretty underrated career. Bulger currently sits second on the Rams’ list of all-time passing yard leaders and third in touchdowns. While his tenure in Baltimore was forgettable, Rams fans will remember Bulger’s contribution for years to come.