Rams Rumors

Jury Acquits Rams Assistant Coach

  • Rams strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath was found not guilty on three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, a Ventura, Calif., jury ruled Friday, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets. This alleged incident occurred in 2018. Rath, 35, is in his second season as a Rams assistant; he was placed on leave earlier this year.

NFL Supplemental Draft Order

The NFL’s Supplemental Draft order does not go by the inverted win/loss records of clubs. Instead, the order is dictated by a weighted lottery that uses a team’s win percentage as just part of the equation. Here, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) is the complete order of the supplemental draft:

1. Lions
2. Broncos
3. Jets
4. Cardinals
5. Giants
6. Bills
7. Raiders
8. 49ers
9. Jaguars
10. Packers
11. Bengals
12. Bucs
13. Falcons
14. Vikings
15. Redskins
16. Titans
17. Dolphins
18. Steelers
19. Panthers
20. Browns
21. Ravens
22. Patriots
23.Cowboys
24. Seahawks
25. Eagles
26. Texans
27. Bears
28. Colts
29. Saints
30. Chiefs
31. Chargers
32. Rams

The supplemental draft is conducted via email. If multiple teams submit a pick for the same player in the same round, this order dictates which club gets the player. Of course, any team picking a player in the supplemental draft will sacrifice the corresponding pick in the 2020 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which 2018 Playoff Team Will Miss The Postseason?

It happens every year. A handful of top-tier teams will inevitably miss the playoffs. In 2018, a staggering seven teams who made the postseason in 2017 missed it the following season. So which of the 2018 playoff squads will underperform and miss the tournament in 2019?

The Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl champions, haven’t missed the postseason since 2008, when Tom Brady missed most of the season with an injury. The team has also produced double-digit wins in every campaign since 2002. Though they seem like a lock to extend that streak, the aforementioned Brady isn’t getting any younger, Rob Gronkowski retired following 2018 and the team’s defensive coaching staff is being headed by head coach Bill Belichick after the departure of Brian Flores to Miami and a deal with Greg Schiano fell through. Though the AFC East is perennially one of the worst in football, the Bills, Dolphins and Jets all have young quarterbacks who could take the next step and challenge New England in 2019. 

The Ravens surprised in 2018, using an opportunistic defense and an unorthodox rookie signal-caller in Lamar Jackson to roll to a 10-6 record and a spot in the postseason. With an offseason to build the offense around its young quarterback, the Ravens could take another step in 2019. Or they could take a step back as opposing defenses catch onto the team’s run-heavy schemes. The Steelers are also due for a bounce back and the Browns have overhauled their roster in recent years to make a push not only for the playoffs, but for a Super Bowl run.

The Texans, the AFC South division champions, and the Colts, a Wild Card squad, have squads loaded with young talent. Houston boasts a loaded offense behind Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, and a strong defensive unit led by J.J. Watt. The Colts caught fire down the stretch, winning nine of their final 10 games to advance to the postseason. The team also fields the reigning Comeback Player of the Year (Andrew Luck) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Darius Leonard). Though both teams should be strong again in 2019, only one can win the division, leaving the other to compete for one of the two Wild Card spots.

A pair of Super Bowl favorites, the Chiefs and Chargers both won 12 games in 2018 and are stacked with talent to inflate that number in 2019. Though the field the league’s MVP in Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have had a tumultuous last few months that has seen the departure of running back Kareem Hunt and legal troubles for Tyreek Hill. Though stacked on both sides of the ball, the Chargers have posted just one double-digit win season since 2009. Again, only one squad can win the division.

In the NFC, both the Cowboys and Eagles appear to be the class of the East, with solid quarterbacks in Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott leading the charge. Both squads field excellent defenses and have plenty of talent at the skill positions. The question in Philly, however, is if Wentz can stay healthy. An MVP candidate when on the field, Wentz has missed eight regular season games and every postseason outing in the last two seasons. Though a strong unit in 2018, the Cowboys defensive front is not a deep one after Demarcus Lawrence and could be the weak link in 2019.

The Bears improved from a 5-11 squad in 2017 to a 12-win team in 2018. With a young quarterback at the helm and a loaded defense, Chicago is in good position for another division crown. However, how much will the team miss defensive coordinator Vic Fangio? The new Broncos head coach oversaw a unit that allowed the fewest points and third-fewest yards in the NFL. Chicago also plays in a strong division that features a Vikings squad poised to bounce back and an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team.

In 2017, the NFC South placed three teams in the playoffs. In 2018, only the Saints escaped the tough division. Atlanta and Carolina look ready to challenge for a postseason berth and a Bruce Arians-led Bucs squad could surprise. New Orleans is sure to be a Super Bowl favorite, but a tough division could see them underperform a hair and miss the tournament.

The NFC representatives in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams are still led by Sean McVay, a high-powered offense and a stout defensive front. The question with Los Angeles is an easy one, however, how will Todd Gurley fare in 2019? The NFL leader in touchdowns in each of the past two season, Gurley was a non-factor in the postseason and his health is a mystery. The Seahawks returned to the postseason following a one-year hiatus but can they do it again in 2019? The teams has to replace Russell Wilson‘s top target in Doug Baldwin, who retired in the offseason. How quickly DK Metcalf assimilates into that offense could determine Seattle’s postseason fate.

If you had to plant your flag on one of these teams missing the 2019 playoffs, which one would it be? Vote in the poll and give us your reasoning in the comments.

Rams Likely To Start Kiser

  • The Rams cut Mark Barron earlier this offseason, leaving them very thin at inside linebacker. They also didn’t resign Ramik Wilson, who started a handful of games when Barron was hurt last year. Cory Littleton is the entrenched starter at one inside linebacker spot, and second-year player Micah Kiser is “the odds-on favorite” to start next to him, per Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic. It’s a risky move, since Kiser doesn’t have much experience. In fact, the 2018 fifth-round pick didn’t play a single snap on defense last year. That being said, the Virginia product was a big contributor on special teams and the coaching staff has expressed confidence in him. Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips know what they’re doing, so it’s safe to assume Kiser is ready.

Poll: Who Is The 2019 NFC Favorite?

Unlike the AFC, where the same team has been the annual favorite for a few years now, the NFC has featured different Patriots opponents over the past three seasons. Since the Packers’ back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 1996-97, only the 2013-14 Seahawks have repeated as conference champions.

When determining who should be considered the 2019 NFC favorite, we should first look at conference’s two best 2018 teams. While the Saints have one of NFL history’s greatest arguments for being the team that should have gone to a Super Bowl, the Rams did. Both teams bring back most of their core players.

The Rams lost more than the Saints this offseason, with their big-spending 2018 helping lead to the departures of Rodger Saffold, Lamarcus Joyner and Ndamukong Suh. Los Angeles brought back Dante Fowler and added Clay Matthews, giving the two-time reigning NFC West champions much bigger names on the edge than the ones that opened the ’18 season as starters, and signed Eric Weddle to replace Joyner. The Rams will trot out two new offensive linemen, likely 2018 mid-round picks Joseph Noteboom (at left guard) and Brian Allen (center). Cooper Kupp is also on track for Week 1. But Todd Gurley‘s status overshadows the rest of the Rams’ lineup; the team has kept information about its two-time All-Pro running back’s knee injury close to the vest.

Lagging just behind the Rams in Super Bowl LIV odds, the Saints lost Mark Ingram but added Latavius Murray. Max Unger retired, but New Orleans added both free agent Nick Easton and second-round pick Erik McCoy. The 2018 trades the Saints made left them without first-, third- and fourth-round picks this year, limiting their ability to enhance their roster cheaply. Drew Brees heads into his age-40 season, and while his arm strength may not be what it once was, he broke his own completion percentage record and was Pro Football Focus’ top-graded QB last season. The cogs chiefly responsible for the Saints’ No. 6 weighted DVOA defensive ranking also return.

The next tier, per Vegas, features the double-doink game’s participants. The Eagles were again active this year, bringing back DeSean Jackson and replacing Michael Bennett with Malik Jackson. Zach Brown also headed to eastern Pennsylvania on a low-cost deal. Philadelphia brought back Brandon Graham and Ronald Darby and extended Jason Kelce. Carson Wentz‘s extension will hit future Eagles caps harder, but his 2019 number ($8.393MM) helps Howie Roseman‘s ability to fortify the roster. After a busy 2018 free agency, the Bears had a quiet offseason. They lost DC Vic Fangio, the NFL’s assistant coach of the year, and may be in line for changes under replacement Chuck Pagano. Scrutinized quarterback Mitch Trubisky (No. 3 in 2018 QBR, No. 18 in Football Outsiders’ DYAR metric) obviously has the biggest say in where the Bears go.

Two out of the past three NFC champions missed the playoffs the year prior, and Vegas places the Packers as the top such candidate for 2019. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur have expressed a difference of opinion about Green Bay’s offensive structure, but the Packers enjoyed their most active offseason in years. Brian Gutekunst spent wildly on edge rushers, with both Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith now each a top-five highest-paid 3-4 outside linebacker, and brought in Adrian Amos for $9MM annually. Did they do enough to get back in the Super Bowl mix?

While the Cowboys re-routed their season after their Amari Cooper trade, Las Vegas is not bullish on their chances. Dallas sits at 25-to-1 Super Bowl odds, the same as Seattle, Minnesota and San Francisco. Despite their NFC East title, the Cowboys ended last season as the No. 21 DVOA team.

The Seahawks lost one of the top receivers in franchise history, with Doug Baldwin retiring at age 30, and traded their best pass rusher. Ziggy Ansah and first-round pick L.J. Collier represent the team’s top edge options. Minnesota is all-in on this nucleus, with the Anthony Barr deal furthering Rick Spielman‘s massive financial commitments to the core he built. Do the Vikings (ninth in weighted DVOA last season) have enough talent to justify these expenses?

Will a team emerge unexpectedly? The 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo set to suit up again and, after acquiring Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, boast their best edge corps in years. Are the Falcons (40-1) being undervalued? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your NFC assessments in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams OL Aaron Neary Suspended 4 Games

The Rams’ offensive line depth is getting a bit thinner. Center Aaron Neary has been suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season, per veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link).

Neary originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Washington back in 2016. He’s been with the Rams for most of the last two seasons, and spent almost all of last year on the practice squad. The suspension was for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and it almost certainly stems from his arrest back in September for DUI.

The Rams stuck by him after that arrest, so this suspension shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise to them. They recently re-signed him to a reserve/futures deal back in February. The Rams let starting center John Sullivan walk in free agency, and will be rolling with unproven second-year player Brian Allen as the starter. Neary was going to compete for a backup role in camp, and the Rams are now a bit thin at center.

Neary originally signed with the Broncos back in 2016, and has bounced around a few stops. He’s had stints with the Eagles and Browns as well, but the only regular season action of his career came when he started a game for the Rams in Week 17 of 2017.

Darrell Henderson To Have Major Role In 2019?

  • Vinny Bonsignore and Rich Hammond of The Athletic discussed which of the Rams‘ rookies would have the most impact on the team’s fortunes this year, and both agree that third-round RB Darrell Henderson is likely to be that guy. Henderson, a running back from Memphis, was a collegiate stud in 2018, and while LA has been adamant that its selection of Henderson has nothing to do with Todd Gurley ‘s balky knee, it’s not difficult to envision Henderson being a key component of the Rams’ offense in 2019.
  • Today, we added two more entries to our Extension Candidate series: Rams CB Marcus Peters (link) and Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner (link).

Extension Candidate: Rams CB Marcus Peters

With one year to go on his contract, the Rams say they’re looking to lock up Marcus Peters for the long haul. However, things have been quiet on that front and it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll be re-upped at all. 

Peters, 26, is entering the fifth year of his rookie contract. After that, the Rams have the option of keeping him off of the free market with the franchise tag, but that would be an expensive proposition. This offseason, the one-year tender for cornerbacks was set at $16.022MM. Next year, that number is expected to climb north of $17MM.

Peters’ 2018 campaign was a tale of two players. He struggled in the first half of the year, but things started to click in the latter portion of the season. He was particularly impressive in the Super Bowl and, along with punter Johnny Hekker, he was one of only a few Rams players to turn in a quality performance.vIn terms of pure talent, Peters is among the very best at his position. However, his up-and-down 2018 season and history of clashing with coaches in Kansas City may be giving the Rams pause.

It’s also worth noting that the Rams have been reluctant to pay big bucks for defensive backs in the past. In recent years, they’ve allowed corners Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins and safeties Rodney McLeod, T.J. McDonald, and Lamarcus Joyner to walk. And, in the recent case of Johnson, that proved to be a wise move – if given the opportunity by a genie, the Jets probably turn back time and tear up the veteran’s five-year, $72.5MM deal (they might also ask the genie to fire then-GM Mike Maccagnan before the thick of the 2018 offseason, but we digress.)

So, what will the Rams do with Peters? If they choose, they can stand pat and allow Peters to play out his 2019 season at a reasonable rate of $9.069MM. Alternatively, if they want to extend Peters now, they may have to back up a Brinks truck for him.

In May, the Dolphins made Xavien Howard the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history with a five-year, $76.5MM extension, giving him an average annual value of $15.3MM. The deal also includes $27MM in full guarantees, slotting him behind only Josh Norman, Johnson, Stephon Gilmore, Denzel Ward, and Jenkins. When considering that two of those corners once formed the backbone of the Rams’ secondary, it’s hard to see the team making a similar commitment to Peters before he can consistently prove his worth over the course of a full season.

For what it’s worth, head coach Sean McVay says the Rams “absolutely” want to sign Peters to an extension. We’ll see if the Rams put their money where their mouth is in the coming weeks, when Peters’ reps will likely seek a deal in the neighborhood of Howard’s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Negotiating With Domata Peko

Free agent Domata Peko told TMZ Sports that he met with the Lions last week. The defensive tackle added that he “had a nice visit” in Detroit and that his agent is “trying to work some stuff out” for a contract. 

Peko also indicated that he would be interested in joining the Rams, though it’s not clear if that interest is being reciprocated.

I would like to be with Aaron Donald, man,” Peko says … “Hell yeah! That would be dope.”

Peko spent the first eleven years of his career with the Bengals before joining the Broncos on a two-year, $7.5MM deal in 2017. Over the past two seasons, Peko has only missed two games, racking up 44 tackles (eight for loss) during that time frame. In 2018, Pro Football Focus ranked Peko as the No. 39 interior defender among 112 qualifiers.

Peko wouldn’t necessarily start for the Lions, but he could be a solid rotational piece for the team’s defensive front. He’d also give the team some extra firepower as Trey Flowers continues to rehab from shoulder surgery and Damon Harrison stays away from the club amidst his contract dispute.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Todd Gurley's Knee Problem

Todd Gurley‘s limited offseason (and the Rams‘ cryptic remarks on their All-Pro running back’s injured knee) has created some uncertainty about how the fifth-year player will be used this season and if he will be as healthy as he looked to start last season. A March report indicated Gurley is dealing with arthritis in his knee, and while Gurley nor the Rams confirmed that, his trainer did. But Travelle Gaines does not believe Gurley’s limitations now, which have induced an individualized workout plan, should point to the 24-year-old runner being on a pitch count when the Rams’ playoff push ensues.

  • Moving back to the Rams, their defensive line will have a new starter — after Ndamukong Suh‘s free agency departure — and one of their rookies may be tabbed for the job. Fourth-round defensive tackle Greg Gaines may be the frontrunner to start at Los Angeles’ nose spot, Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The 300-plus-pound Gaines played alongside Vita Vea at Washington in 2017 and in 2018 recorded a career-high 4.5 sacks.