Rams Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/1/20

Teams continue to move their rosters toward 80 players, which will be the maximum by the time full practices begin. Here are the latest minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the afternoon:

Baltimore Ravens

Dallas Cowboys

  • Waived: LS Joe Fortunato
  • Waived/injured: LB Azur Kamara

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: LS Rex Sunahara

New York Giants

  • Claimed off waivers (from Browns): WR Tony Brown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Recently, we learned that the deadline is set for seven days after the final execution of the agreement. The lawyers are still hashing out some paperwork matters, so the NFL is looking to push up the date.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. This week, scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/20

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

Arizona Cardinals

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

COVID-19 Latest: Cases, Testing, Physicals

The NFL is a week away from beginning training camps amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the latest from the league’s defining storyline in the final days of the offseason:

  • Ninety-five players have thus far tested positive for the coronavirus, the NFL announced Tuesday. This number, roughly 3.2% of players, will increase when the league begins to test every player. The NFL on Monday agreed on daily testing for the first two weeks of camp.
  • Players will not be permitted to enter their respective team’s facility until they test negative twice. The league revealed a schedule for player testing this week. Players will be tested August 1 before self-quarantining for the next two days before being tested again August 4. The daily testing period will begin August 5, when players can enter team facilities for the first time. The NFL can expect to spend about $75MM on coronavirus testing across the season, Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal reports. BioReference Laboratories, the company set to conduct testing, will charge a flat fee for up to 120 tests per day per team. Any additional tests will cost $125 per test, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.
  • Team doctors are expected to resume conducting physicals soon, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Teams have not been able to examine players throughout the 2020 league year. Physicals will not take place, however, until health and safety precautions are fully in place, per Rapoport. Only eight teams’ infectious disease emergency response plans have been approved; the other 24 franchises’ plans are under review. Rookie physicals taking place would represent a key step toward free agents being permitted to visit teams.
  • The Rams announced SoFi Stadium’s debut season will feature limited capacity or a no-fan environment. The Rams and Chargers will begin play at the new Inglewood, Calif., stadium this year.
  • Two Division I-FCS conferences will not play football this fall. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association announced they will not play this fall. Both conferences have not ruled out tabling their seasons until the spring. The CAA and MEAC will follow the Ivy and Patriot Leagues in nixing their fall seasons. Junior college football is on track to take place in the spring.

Andrew Whitworth Tested Positive For COVID-19

Union chief DeMaurice Smith and president J.C. Tretter held a conference call with media members on Friday, and Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth joined the call. Whitworth revealed that he recently tested positive for COVID-19, and his story is a troubling one (h/t Howard Balzer of SI.com).

Whitworth explained that a family member went to lunch with a friend. Several days later, that family member started to feel ill when she was traveling with Whitworth, his wife and children, and his wife’s parents. She subsequently tested positive, and Whitworth and every other person on that trip tested positive shortly thereafter.

Luckily, it appears as if everyone involved has recovered, but it does underscore how dangerous the virus is. And as Tretter pointed out during the call, there are still important unanswered questions concerning the spread of the virus. Although it may be possible to have socially distant huddles, offensive and defensive linemen have to be in contact with each other and players on the opposing line on every play, so if one of them tests positive, how will the league determine how many people to quarantine, and for how long?

For now, the league is forging ahead with its plans to start training camp on July 28, with rookies, QBs, and injured players reporting to their clubs this week. As of July 10, 72 players league-wide had tested positive for COVID-19, and that number will almost certainly increase when testing becomes mandatory. How the league responds to positive tests will be the most important factor in starting and completing the 2020 season.

Whitworth, 38, has contemplated retirement recently, but he signed a new three-year contract this offseason that will theoretically keep him with Los Angeles though his age-40 season. He was a First-Team All-Pro in 2017, his first year with the Rams, and though he is unlikely to reach those heights again, he remains a good LT and a key component of the club’s O-line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Darrell Henderson Underwent Surgery

  • The Rams are beginning a new era at running back, having cut five-year starter Todd Gurley. Darrell Henderson will be one of the players vying for the starting job. The second-year back, however, underwent ankle surgery this offseason, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. This issue may be behind him, with Rodrigue adding that Henderson has already participated in multiple Jared Goff-conducted throwing sessions (Twitter link). Henderson, Malcolm Brown and rookie second-rounder Cam Akers represent the top options in Los Angeles’ backfield.

This Date In Transactions History: Rams Sign No. 1 Overall Pick Jared Goff

Four years ago today, the Rams officially signed No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. The Rams were happy to sign the promising young Cal product to a four-year, $28MM deal in accordance with his slot, though they paid a hefty price for the right to draft him in the first place. 

[RELATED: This Date In Transactions History: 49ers Trade Issac Bruce To The Rams]

After a classic Jeff Fisher middle-of-the-pack season, the Rams came into the offseason with the No. 15 overall pick and a major crush on Goff. A couple weeks before the draft, they pried the top choice away from the Titans with a Godfather offer, a package that included two 2016 second-round picks, plus 2017 first- and third-round choices.

Goff wasn’t everyone’s preferred quarterback in that class, but the Rams saw Goff as a more polished passer than North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. It was hard to argue with Goff’s potential – he threw for nearly 8,700 combined yards and 78 touchdowns during his final two college seasons. And, in his final year, he established new personal watermarks by completing 64.5% of his passes and throwing for 4,714 yards and 43 TDs.

With Goff under center, the Rams reached the Super Bowl following the 2018 season. After Goff threw for 4,688 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions in the regular season and brought them to a snoozer of a championship game, the Rams rewarded him with a four-year, $134MM deal with $110MM guaranteed. Goff’s 2019 showing has raised some question marks about his second contract, but the Rams can’t complain about his first deal.

In keeping with team tradition, the Rams also signed the rest of their entire 2016 draft class on this same day. Thanks to the blockbuster deal to get Goff, the Rams’ next pick didn’t come until the fourth round at No. 110 overall, when they selected the troubled-yet-talented Tyler Higbee, a tight end out of Western Kentucky. In October of last year, the remainder of the class looked pretty unremarkable. But, after Higbee’s incredible finish last year, the Rams’ report card deserves a revised grade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: 49ers Trade Issac Bruce To The Rams

On this date in 2010, the 49ers traded Issac Bruce to the Rams. However, this wasn’t a typical trade. The deal was facilitated in order to allow Bruce, then 37, to retire with his original franchise. 

Bruce started his career with the Rams in 1994, the team’s final season in Los Angeles. The second-round pick played sparingly as a rookie, but he broke out as an NFL sophomore in St. Louis with 119 catches, 1,781 yards, and 13 touchdowns, all of which went down as his career bests. In his 14 illustrious years with the Rams, Bruce amassed four Pro Bowl trips and eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in eight different seasons.

Sixteen years was enough for me,” Bruce said at his farewell press conference. “I think a lot was done. But that second training camp practice (in two-a-days) may have played a part in it. I was ready to move on and do something else other than playing football.”

After so many productive seasons in the NFL, Bruce had little left to prove. Bruce was the leading wide receiver in the Rams’ “Greatest Show On Turf” Super Bowl-winning season and left the team as its all-time receiving leader with 14,109 yards. His second act with the Niners was not quite as flashy with 835 yards in his first SF season and 264 yards in his 2009 finale.

The two years I was away, I kept tabs on this organization,” Bruce said. “I played against this organization, I played against its players. The funny thing is I found myself encouraging them when things didn’t look bright for them. I looked down and saw myself in a different colored uniform. It was honestly just to me personally — it just wasn’t right.

So, with the trade, Bruce returned back to the Rams and became the last member of the Rams’ first Los Angeles run to hang ’em up. Later, his No. 80 jersey was retired by the team. Bruce was denied entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame multiple times, but he was finally enshrined in 2020, after six years of eligibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets, Falcons, Rams, Bears To Gain Cap Room Via Post-June 1 Cuts

The Bears, Falcons, Jets, and Rams will gain additional cap space starting Tuesday, as Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. The extra flexibility comes from the following releases that have been designated as post-June 1 cuts: 

Players released after June 1 can have their remaining cap charge spread out across two seasons, rather than one. These four players were released earlier this year, but designated as post-June 1 cuts to smooth out the dead money.

For these teams, a chunk of this money will go towards funding the incoming rookie class. However, there will still be some room left over for summer upgrades, thanks to the top-51 rule. In the case of the Falcons, they’ll have about $8.25MM to spend, as Kevin Knight of The Falcoholic notes.

The additional space could jumpstart talks for June’s best remaining free agents, a group that includes defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, cornerback Logan Ryan, and guard Larry Warford. The Jets probably won’t go for Clowney, but they’ve shown serious interest in Ryan and Warford would make some sense for them if they want to upgrade over Brian Winters.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Rams, Ramsey, Seahawks, 49ers

On Tuesday, Rams star Jalen Ramsey confirmed that he won’t hold out this year if he doesn’t get the new deal that he’s seeking. Meanwhile, head coach Sean McVay tells reporters that he has every intention of keeping the standout cornerback for the long haul.

We went and got this guy with the hope that it’s not a short-time thing,” McVay said (Twitter link via Andrew Siciliano of NFL.com). “I sure hope he’s not leaving.”

McVay went on to say that he sees Ramsey as the type of player who can reset the market as his position (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jordan Rodrigue). Currently, Darius Slay is the leader in the CB clubhouse with an average annual value of $16.7MM. As McVay suggests, Ramsey’s AAV could easily exceed $17MM, even though he was less-than-stellar in his half-season with L.A.

Here’s more out of the NFC West:

  • Speaking of Ramsey, new Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley intends to move him around this year by giving him some reps in the slot and possibly at safety (via Rodrigue). “He’s got command of all the positions in the defensive backfield,” Staley said. “You know, I do not look at him just as a corner. I look at him as a (defensive back). This guy can do anything. He thinks like a quarterback.”
  • Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times would be surprised if the Seahawks didn’t add a veteran lineman or two before the start of the season. As it stands, the Seahawks are set to trot out a defensive end rotation of Rasheem Green/Benson Mayowa/rookie Darrell Taylor plus Poona Ford and Jarran Reed on the interior. The defensive end group, in particular, could use some reinforcements. With Quinton Jefferson in Buffalo and Jadeveon Clowney unlikely to be re-signed, GM John Schneider will probably be scanning the market for the next few months. On the plus side, the return of Bruce Irvin should help in the edge rushing department, but Pete Carroll has him listed as a linebacker.
  • The 49ers might not have world-class depth in their secondary group, but Matt Barrows of The Athletic isn’t overly concerned with how the depth chart looks behind Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward, and the rest of the starters. However, if they do look to make an upgrade in that area, strong safety could be worth a look. As it stands, Marcell Harris is the only backup who has previous experience in SF’s scheme.
  • The Cardinals are keeping an eye on former Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen. He’s provide experience to Arizona’s young DE group, not to mention an impressive track record of getting to the quarterback. The 32-year-old has 74.5 career sacks to his credit.