Rams Rumors

Rams Interested In Jordan Reed

Longtime Redskins tight end Jordan Reed has suffered at least seven concussions since the start of his collegiate career, and his latest concussion forced him to miss the entire 2019 season. He finally cleared the concussion protocol earlier this month, which allowed Washington to release him and save a fair amount of money against the cap.

But despite the troubling head injuries and the fact that he has played in only 13 games over the past three seasons, Reed is committed to continuing his playing career. He may get the opportunity to do so in Los Angeles, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports that the Rams have spoken to the 2016 Pro Bowler about a potential contract (Twitter link).

Rams head coach Sean McVay is eminently familiar with Reed, as he was Washington’s tight ends coach in 2013 — Reed’s rookie campaign — and he was the club’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16. Reed’s most productive seasons came under McVay’s watch, but he is far removed from those promising performances, and it’s unclear how much of a difference-maker he can be moving forward.

Plus, Los Angeles has two reasonably talented tight ends on the roster already in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. Those two combined for 106 catches for 1,142 yards and five TDs in 2019, and Higbee’s 69 receptions were good for third on the team. Everett, a 2017 second-rounder, has played second fiddle to Higbee in each of his first three seasons in the league, so he may be appealing as a trade target for a TE-needy club that is unable to land Austin Hooper or Hunter Henry in free agency (though that is merely speculation at this point).

But trading Everett and replacing him with Reed is a risky proposition at best given the important of tight ends in NFL offenses today, so it’s perhaps more likely that the Rams view Reed as a low-risk, high-reward complement to their existing depth chart.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Want To Re-Sign Andrew Whitworth

Despite turning 38 last season, Andrew Whitworth wants to play in 2020. That is good news for the Rams, who have seen the Pro Bowl left tackle become a key component of Sean McVay‘s attack.

McVay wants to bring back Whitworth, who will be entering his 15th season, and sounds optimistic the parties can reach a deal. The Rams have big names anchoring their payroll and the likes of Dante Fowler, Michael Brockers and Cory Littleton looming as UFAs.

I think we’re pretty confident. I think you feel pretty good about it,” McVay said of bringing back Whitworth, via Rich Hammond of The Athletic (subscription required). “He still played a really high level last year. His impact isn’t exclusive to just playing the left tackle position. He does a lot of really good things in terms of the mentorship that he provides. … He’s a part of the plan and definitely want to try to get him back.”

This would be interesting from an age perspective. No tackle has started a game past his 39th birthday since Ray Brown on the 2004 Redskins. The Rams’ Jackie Slater was the last to be a multi-season regular past that age, starting 15 games between his age-39 and age-40 seasons in the mid-1990s. But for this era, Whitworth would be blazing new territory. But it sounds like the Rams are betting on him to stay effective as he nears 40.

The former Bengals second-round pick started 16 games last season and has not missed a game due to injury since signing with the Rams in 2017. Finishing out his three-year deal worth $33.75MM, the four-time Pro Bowler anchored a Rams offensive line that went through major changes last season. A one- or two-year pact would almost certainly be what the Rams would prefer for Whitworth this time around. As of Thursday, the Rams are projected to hold less than $15MM in cap space.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Promote Sophie Luoto To Director Of Football Operations

Sophie Luoto has taken on a new gig with the Rams. Charles Robinson of Yahoo reports (via Twitter) that the executive has been promoted to the role of director of football operations.

Luoto was previously serving as the organization’s manager of football administration, a role she held since 2016. As Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes, Luoto earned wide praise “for her assistance to Rams’ employees during the Southern California fires in 2018.” She previously spent time with the Berkeley football team.

In her new role, Luoto will presumably be working alongside general manager Les Snead and vice president of football & business administration Tony Pastoors.

Williams also observes that the promotion makes Luoto one of the highest-ranking female executives in the league. She’s joined by Callie Brownson, who’s the chief of staff for new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.

Rams Add To Coaching Staff

  • The Rams announced today that they’ve hired Tory Woodbury as an assistant special teams coach (via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry on Twitter). Woodbury has been with the organization for the past three seasons, including the last two in their scouting department.

Rams To Keep 3-4 Defense

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is gone, but the Rams will continue to operate in a 3-4 base under new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, as ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry writes.

Still, personnel changes may be on the horizon – defensive lineman Michael Brockers, outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., and inside linebacker Cory Littleton are all slated for free agency. The Rams will also be on the lookout for safety help following the retirement of 13-year pro Eric Weddle.

Interestingly, Thiry also frames cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman as a cap casualty. Despite coming off of another strong season, she believes the Rams could drop the final year of his three-year, $15.7MM contract and fill the void internally by giving more slot snaps to Troy Hill.

Coaching Notes: Shurmur, Jets, Rams

Michigan State continues to look for a replacement for Mark Dantonio, and Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the school was eyeing veteran coach Pat Shurmur.

Fortunately for Denver, the 54-year-old is staying put. Klis notes that Shurmur is “all in” on the Broncos organization, and he’ll continue as the team’s offensive coordinator. It wasn’t even a month ago that Shurmur replaced Rich Scangarello in the role.

Shurmur is best known for his stint as the Giants head coach, but he actually got started in the coaching ranks at Michigan State. He started off as a graduate assistant before coaching tight ends, offensive lineman, and special teams. In total, Shurmur was with the school between 1988 and 1997.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • The Jets announced this evening (on Twitter) that they’ve added Leigh Torrence as an assistant defensive backs coach. Brian Costello of the New York Post observes that Torrence played for Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams when the two were in New Orleans (Twitter link). The 38-year-old spent the past two seasons as a defensive assistant with the Saints.
  • Jonathan Cooley is joining the Rams coaching staff as a defensive assistant/quality control coach, reports Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (on Twitter). The former Akron cornerbacks coach was selected by the NFL for the 2019 Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
  • We learned earlier tonight that the Jaguars were adding former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo as their new quarterbacks coach.

Eric Weddle Retires From NFL

On Thursday, Eric Weddle announced that he has reached the end of his extraordinary career. After 13 years, the legendary safety will move on to new endeavors and spend more time with his family.

Weddle’s journey began in 2007 with the Chargers. There, he forged a reputation as one of the league’s most imposing and hard-nosed safeties, collecting three Pro Bowl nominations and two First-Team All-Pro selections over the course of nine seasons. He also became one of the franchise’s main faces. Weddle became synonymous with San Diego, and he did not make the move to L.A. with his longtime club.

Unable to come to terms on a new deal, Weddle moved on to the Ravens before the 2016 season. His second chapter brought more memorable moments, including three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl and 220 total tackles.

When the Ravens cut him loose last year, he hooked on with the Rams on a two-year pact. After tallying 108 tackles (good for second on the team) and four passes defensed, Weddle expressed uncertainty about whether he’d return for another season and attempt to play through chronic shoulder and knee pain. It also wasn’t clear whether the Rams had him in their plans – Weddle was set to count for a $4.75MM cap charge in 2020, and all but $500K could have been erased with his release.

Towards the end, Weddle’s declining speed and mounting list of ailments started to show. Regardless, he leaves the game with more accomplishments than we can list, but we’ll list a few more of them here – 1,179 total tackles, 29 interceptions, 98 passes defensed, 9.5 sacks, and five All-Pro nods (counting second- and third-team). We here at PFR wish Weddle the best in retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams’ Andrew Whitworth To Return

Retirement can wait for Rams veteran Andrew Whitworth. The 38-year-old left tackle is expected to play in 2020, sources tell NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). 

Meanwhile, Whitworth is scheduled to reach free agency in March, so the Rams will have to hammer out a new deal with him if they want him back. Whitworth’s last pact paid him $33.75MM over the course of three years and his next/last contract won’t come cheap, either.

It’s become increasingly hard for teams to find quality help at the tackle position and Whitworth represents their best LT, despite his advanced age. Joseph Noteboom and Bobby Evans are on hand for support, but Whitworth is still the finest protector of the bunch.

As per usual, Whitworth turned in a perfect attendance record in 2019. He’s only missed three games since the 2013 season and hasn’t missed major time since his 10-game 2008 campaign with the Bengals. In January, Whitworth underwent ankle surgery, but he expects to be 100% healthy for the upcoming year.

The Rams’ offensive line struggled on the whole last year, but Whitworth was a bright spot for the unit. They’ll look to keep him in the fold for 2020 and uphold the pocket for Jared Goff.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2020 Draft Order

Super Bowl LIV is in the books, which means the order for the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft is set. By virtue of their 31-20 win Sunday night, the Chiefs will have the final pick in the first round. The 49ers dropping to 5-2 in Super Bowls will result in the NFC champions approaching the podium at No. 31.

Here is the full first-round order:

1. Bengals (2-14)

2. Redskins (3-13)

3. Lions (3-12-1)

4. Giants (4-12)

5 Dolphins (5-11)

6. Chargers (5-11)

7. Panthers (5-11)

8. Cardinals (5-10-1)

9. Jaguars (6-10)

10. Browns (6-10)

11. Jets (7-9)

12. Raiders (7-9)

13. Colts (7-9)

14. Buccaneers (7-9)

15. Broncos (7-9)

16. Falcons (7-9)

17. Cowboys (8-8)

18. Dolphins (via Steelers 8-8)

19. Raiders (via Bears 8-8)

20. Jaguars (via Rams 9-7)

21. Eagles (9-7)

22. Bills (10-6)

23. Patriots (12-4)

24. Saints (13-3)

25. Vikings (10-6)

26. Dolphins (via Texans 10-6)

27. Seahawks (11-5)

28. Ravens (14-2)

29. Titans (9-7)

30. Packers (13-3)

31. 49ers (13-3)

32. Chiefs (12-4)

Patriots Hire Jedd Fisch

The Patriots are making a high profile addition to their coaching staff. New England is hiring Jedd Fisch to fill an as of now unspecified role on their coaching staff, a source told Jim McBride of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).

The Patriots are hiring him away from the Rams, where Fisch served as a senior offensive assistant under Sean McVay for the past two seasons. Right before joining the Rams, he was the offensive coordinator and then interim head coach at UCLA. Fisch has never been a full-time head coach, but he’s held a number of prominent assistant jobs. He served as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator for a couple of years a handful of seasons ago, and he’s still only 43. He also served as Jim Harbaugh’s passing game coordinator at Michigan for two years.

Josh McDaniels currently serves as New England’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, so it’s possible Fisch is coming on under a similarly vague title that he held in Los Angeles. The Patriots have once again had some turnover on their staff, with special teams coordinator and receivers coach Joe Judge landing the head job with the Giants.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.