Los Angeles Rams Rumors & News

Rams To Sign QB Dan Orlovsky

The Rams have agreed to sign Dan Orlovsky, the quarterback tells ESPN producer Jason Romano. He’ll now try to make the final 53-man cut as a backup to youngster Jared Goff.Dan Orlovsky

[RELATED: Rams Hire Former Broncos GM]

As it stands, Sean Mannion is slotted in as the primary understudy to Goff. There has been no indication that the Rams are dissatisfied with the 25-year-old signal caller, so Orlovsky could be looking at a QB3-or-bust situation.

Orlovsky has spent time with the Texans, Colts, and Buccaneers, but he is best known for his two stints with the Lions. Since being drafted in 2005, Orlovsky has made just 12 career starts. He’ll turn 34 next month.

To the surprise of some, Orlovsky has found work in 2017 while quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III remain unemployed. Orlovsky has also signed ahead of fellow ex-Lions QB Shaun Hill.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams To Hire Brian Xanders

The Rams are expected to hire former Broncos GM Brian Xanders to a senior personnel role, a source tells Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Xanders was most recently with the Lions. Brian Xanders (vertical)

Xanders served as the Broncos’ GM from 2009 through 2012. Some time after that, he found his way to the Lions. When they shook up the front office in 2016, Xanders stayed on board but lost a lot of his power. With no connection to GM Bob Quinn, it made sense for the two parties to go their separate ways.

Xanders comes to the Rams during a pivotal year for Rams GM Les Snead. Snead was retained as former coach Jeff Fisher was shown the door, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll get to stick around for Sean McVay‘s second year as coach. Xanders will be in the building to help advise Snead, but he also has the credentials to interview for the job if a change is made.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rashad Jennings Has Talked With Five Teams

Rashad Jennings has proven that he can dance. Now, he wants to prove that he can still play football at a high level. The free agent running back says that he is anxious to play in 2017 and eager for an NFL opportunity. Rashad Jennings (vertical)

I know there is a place for me in the league based on my skill set. I want to prove one GM right this year,” Jennings told SiriusXM (Twitter links).

Jennings added that he has had “simple conversations” with the Lions, Packers, Ravens, Rams, and Dolphins. The veteran hopes that those simple conversations will lead to a deal from one of those teams, but for now, he’s in “wait and see” mode.

The reigning Dancing With The Stars champion had a paltry 3.3 yards per carry average last year on 181 rushes, but did record 35 receptions. On the plus side, Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the NFL’s best pass blockers in 2016 and he isn’t too far removed from a productive 2015 season in New York.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Want To Extend DB Lamarcus Joyner

Although the contract statuses of cornerback Trumaine Johnson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald may take precedence at the moment, the Rams also want to reach a long-term extension with defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. Los Angeles is interested in a new deal for linebacker Alec Ogletree, as well, per Gonzalez.Lamarcus Joyner (Featured)

Joyner, 26, will be seeing time at a new position this season, as he’ll be shifting to free safety after lining up at slot cornerback for the first three years of his NFL career. A second-round pick in 2014, Joyner has appeared in 40 games (14 starts) for the Rams, and last year managed 76 tackles, five passes defensed, and one sack. Overall, Joyner graded as the league’s No. 30 corner, per Pro Football Focus.

Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next spring, Joyner will earn a $1.106M base salary in 2017 and carry a cap charge of $1.601MM. While the Rams could conceivably use the franchise tag on Joyner next year if no extension is hammered out, that tender would come with a cost north of $11MM. While Joyner has been a valuable player during his time with the Rams, he’s probably not worth that price tag.

Los Angeles’ interest in extending Ogletree, meanwhile, dates back to at least February of 2016. Because he was a first-round selection, Ogletree is under team control in 2018 the fifth-year option, which will pay him $8.369MM. In 16 starts a season ago, Ogletree played nearly every defensive snap for the Rams, but only ranked as the No. 57 linebacker among 88 qualifiers, according to PFF.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Deal For Cousins, Bell, Johnson

The franchise tender extension deadline has come and gone. With no deals struck for the three players in question, we now know that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson will be playing out the 2017 season on one-year deals. Trumaine Johnson (vertical)

We’ve believed this to be the most expected outcome for a while now, though Bell was the most likely to sign of the trio. Although Bell might have liked to sign a multi-year deal before this afternoon’s deadline, all three players are still in great shape for the coming year. Cousins will make roughly $24MM on his second straight franchise tag. Johnson will make $16MM on his second time on the tender. Bell will collect a $12MM+ salary on his first ever franchise tag.

The Redskins, Steelers, and Rams can all use the franchise tag on these players next year, but the price would be uncomfortably high in the cases of Bell ($14MM) and Cousins ($34MM) and downright outlandish in the case of Johnson ($20MM). If all goes right for them in 2017, they’re all in position to get paid in 2018 and beyond, one way or another.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Deadline Approaching For Cousins, Bell, Johnson

A major deadline is fast approaching for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. If the three franchise-tagged players do not sign an extension with their respective clubs by 4pm ET/3pm CT, they will play out the season on a one-year tender and will not be able to reignite long-term talks until January. Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

So far, there hasn’t been significant movement towards a deal for any of the three players in question, though Bell is more likely to sign a multi-year pact than the other two. Then again, after last year’s deadline brought us a surprise accord between the Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson, nothing can be ruled out.

The Redskins have slowly upped their offer to Cousins over the last year, but a major gulf still divides the two parties. Cousins’ agent is said to be seeking $24MM annually on a new deal, a number reflective of his ~$24MM tender for 2017. The Redskins, meanwhile, have only offered $20MM per season on a five-year pact. The proposal, which was made back in May, only truly guarantees the first two years for Cousins, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. When considering the gap in dollars and the possibility that Cousins would rather be somewhere else long-term, it seems likely that the QB will play out the year on his tender.

On Monday morning, we heard that there was nothing imminent between the Steelers and Bell. Still, a long-term deal makes plenty of sense for both sides. Bell’s camp is aware of the injury risk that running backs carry and they would certainly forego some upside in favor of security. The Steelers, on the other hand, do not want to chance having to cuff Bell with a one-year, $14MM repeat franchise tender next offseason. Even though there hasn’t been a lot of reported progress on a deal in recent weeks, this one feels too logical not to happen.

On the flipside, it would be a shock to see the Rams and Johnson shake hands on a deal this afternoon. Johnson believes that he could be paid like a top cornerback on the open market next spring and unless he turns in a historically spectacular season, there’s little chance that the Rams will tag him for a third straight year at $20MM. Instead, Johnson will happily play out the year for $16.742MM and worry about his future next offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams TE Tyler Higbee Pleads Guilty To Assault

Los Angeles Ram tight end Tyler Higbee has pleaded guilty to an assault charge stemming from a 2016 confrontation, according to the Associated Press. The 24-year-old will be required to perform 250 hours worth of community service and pay the victim an undisclosed amount of money. As a result of him pleading guilty to second-degree “assault under extreme emotional disturbance,” he will avoid jail time.

Tyler Higbee (vertical)Back in 2016, the tight end had pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that the other man initiated the fight when he placed his hands on Higbee’s girlfriend. Bowling Green Police say the NFL player punched the victim, Nawaf Alsaleh, causing a concussion.

“We feel like it’s a fair resolution to what was an unfortunate incident,” attorney Brian Lowder told Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

The confrontation took place shortly before the 2016 draft, but the Rams still selected the Western Kentucky product in the fourth round. Higbee appeared in all 16 games during his rookie campaign, hauling in 11 receptions for 85 yards and one touchdown. The 6-foot-6 weapon also collected a pair of tackles on special teams.

The Rams selected Gerald Everett in the second round of this past year’s draft, meaning Higbee will presumably be competing with Cory Harkey and Temarrick Hemingway for second-team reps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Progress Between Rams, Trumaine Johnson

There’s still no movement toward a deal between the Rams and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, per ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez, who’s the latest to report that he’ll play 2017 under the franchise tag. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson relayed earlier this week that no agreement would come to fruition by Monday’s deadline, meaning Johnson will play the season as the NFL’s highest-paid corner. Johnson will earn $16.742MM in his second straight year as the Rams’ franchise player, and the likelihood is that he’ll test the free agent market next offseason. Tagging him again isn’t going to happen because doing so would cost the Rams $24.1MM.
Elsewhere around the NFC…
  • The NFL needs to make a decision on whether to suspend Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott as soon as possible, opines Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. In doing so, he league would ensure that the internal appeals process would be resolved by Week 1, reasons Florio. Elliott is bracing for a season-opening ban, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, and Florio wonders if the league leaked that information to Schefter in order to gauge the opinions of both the public and Jerry Jones. The Cowboys owner has made it known to NFL higher-ups that he won’t react kindly if the league suspends one of his stars without ample justification, reports Florio. Given the power Jones has, the NFL “needs to placate” him, writes Florio; at the same time, the league’s also in a difficult situation because it can’t afford to screw up another ruling involving domestic violence.
  • The Eagles want to “take a little bit off” second-year quarterback Carson Wentz‘s plate this season, head coach Doug Pederson told Comcast SportsNet’s John Clark this week (via Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com). Pederson believes that the offseason additions of wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount should make life easier for Wentz, who didn’t have enough help at the skill positions last season and attempted 607 passes – the second-highest rookie total in NFL history, notes Frank. “Everything doesn’t have to fall on Carson’s shoulders and I think sometimes a little bit last year he felt that way and things had to fall his way a little bit to make a play and I don’t think we have to do that this year,” said Pederson.
  • Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall agreed to a pay cut last month, but he’ll still enter training camp in danger of losing his roster spot, suggests Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. A couple of other veteran safeties, Will Blackmon and Josh Evans, are also on the bubble, per Tandler. Injuries limited Hall to just 17 games over the previous three seasons, including a mere three in 2016. Conversely, staying healthy hasn’t been a problem for the 32-year-old Blackmon, who has made 30 of 32 appearances and logged 16 starts since joining the Redskins prior to 2015. Evans, a regular for the Jaguars from 2013-15, was on and off Washington’s roster last year and only played two games.

NFL Suspends Rams WR Mike Thomas

Rams rookie wide receiver Mike Thomas has been suspended for the first four games of the season, per a club announcement. Thomas’ ban stems from a violation of the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. Mike Thomas (vertical)

The Rams selected Thomas with their final pick in the 2016 draft, a sixth-round selection at No. 206 overall. Thomas’ roster spot was anything but guaranteed and today’s news puts him in real jeopardy of not making the cut. The Rams have at least four locks to make the team at wide receiver in Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, third round pick Cooper Kupp, and fourth round pick Josh Reynolds. Pharoah Cooper and a host of other WRs are also vying to stick on the 53-man roster.

Last year, Thomas appeared in 15 games as a special teamer. He returned nine kicks for 180 yards, good for an average of 20 yards per return. His longest kick return was a 41-yard effort against the Falcons in December.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which Players Will Sign By Deadline?

With five days to go until the deadline for teams to sign franchise tagged players to extensions, there apparently hasn’t been a ton of progress for any of the three players in question. Still, we’ve had some mid-July surprises in the past, like last year’s last minute extension for Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. Here’s a quick refresher on where things stand for Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, and Trumaine Johnson:

Kirk Cousins

There has been no movement towards a deal for the Redskins and Cousins, and both sides are apparently alright with that. You know the deal by now: Cousins is looking at a $24MM salary in 2017 and the Redskins will have to give him a tender worth at least $28MM to keep him away from unrestricted free agency next season. Cousins is confident in his abilities and eager to push the market for quarterbacks, so he is not all that inclined to sign a multi-year deal. Kirk Cousins

Cousins’ agent probably won’t consider any offer with less than $52MM guaranteed. If his camp really wants to drive a hard bargain, it will insist on a minimum $58MM in the bag since that factors in the value a third franchise tag in 2018 ($34MM) rather than the $28MM transition tag, which would only give Washington the first right of refusal.

Cousins, like any player in extension talks, must weigh the benefit of cost certainty versus the upside of the open market. But, with the way quarterbacks get paid in the NFL, he is looking at a high floor. Cousins is not considered to be a top five QB, but if he were to put pen to paper today, he would be the highest-paid player in the NFL – at least for a couple of weeks. Even if Cousins has a mild regression in 2017, he’ll still be looking at either a one-year, ~$30MM deal in Washington or a $100MM+ deal in free agency. In order for the soon-to-be 29-year-old to sign, he’ll either have to be wowed by an offer or he’ll have to catch a case of cold feet in the coming days.

Le’Veon Bell

Le'Veon Bell (vertical)Bell, by any measure, is one of the very best running backs in the NFL. In a suspension-shortened 2016 season, Bell earned his second career trip to the Pro Bowl as he ran for 1,268 yrds off of 261 carries, mirroring a career-high of 4.9 yards per attempt. He also added 75 receptions for 616 yards. When averaged out on a per-game basis, his 2016 numbers actually bested his 2014 campaign, a season in which he was a First-Team All-Pro selection. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus had Bell ranked as the third best RB in the league last season, behind only Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson.

While there has been talk about Cousins being less-than-thrilled with Redskins management, Bell has been open about wanting to stay in Pittsburgh. The feeling is mutual as the Steelers want to keep in him in the fold for the long term. So, what’s the holdup?

Bell is probably seeking to overtake Bills star LeSean McCoy as the highest-paid running back in the NFL. The Steelers are probably willing to oblige, but, as we all know, there’s a difference between becoming the market-setter in terms of years/dollars and the true value of a deal. If Bell wants to sign a five-year deal worth more than $40MM, odds are that he could do that right now. What he’s really after, however, are substantial guarantees with significant cash flow in the first two years of the deal.

Running backs are always at a high risk of injury and teams are typically adversed to paying out real dollars for them on multi-year deals, even if the cases of exceptional players like Bell. The Steelers are hoping to find a happy medium with Bell in the coming days since his $12MM price tag for this year is high and a potential $14MM tag for 2018 is spit take worthy.

Trumaine Johnson

Like Cousins, this is the second year in a row that Johnson has been hit with the franchise tag. Where the situations differ is that there is zero chance the Rams will apply the tag to Johnson for a third year in a row. If Johnson plays out the year on his one-year, $17MM tender, he’ll hit unrestricted free agency at the age of 28 because there’s virtually no chance that the Rams would tag him at upwards of $24MM in 2018. Trumaine Johnson (vertical)

Johnson has yet to establish himself as an elite cornerback, but this would be the time to do it as he enters a contract year. The Rams’ strong front seven should keep opposing quarterbacks under duress, allowing Johnson to swarm receivers on immature routes. It appears that Johnson has little incentive to sign a long-term deal here, unless the Rams are willing to make a cap-crippling commitment.

On Tuesday, it was reported that nothing is currently in the works for Johnson and the Rams. Things will have to change dramatically in order for Johnson to be committed to L.A. beyond 2017.

Take your pick

Which of these three players, if any, will sign extensions before the deadline on Monday? Cast your vote below and back up your choice in the comment section.