Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
The NFL free agency has officially started as many NFL teams were actively signing new players by trade or new free agents joining new teams. No team had been more aggressive in the free agency period than the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams kicked off the free agency stage by executing the first huge trade by sending two 2018 draft picks and a swap of picks, to the Kansas City Chiefs for All-pro cornerback Marcus Peters. Snead engineered another trade by sending a 2018 fifth-round pick to the Denver Broncos for all-pro cornerback Aqib Talib.
Les Snead, the Rams general manager, didn't just stop there, as he executed trades of veteran edge rusher Robert Quinn (Miami Dolphins) and surprisingly of team captain Alec Ogletree. It was such a surprise of Ogletree, because he just recently agreed to a new four year, $42,750,000 contract, with an $8,000,000 signing bonus, and $21,369,000 was guaranteed. The organization was able to obtain some picks back they originally traded away via previous trades.
It appeared many of the Ram fans had been more concerned about the status of veteran wide-receiver Tavon Austin, than any other news. Austin seemed to have lost the faith of many fans, because of his lack of big plays and problems with turning over the ball.
In 2016, the Ram’s Tavon Austin, signed a four-year extension to stay in Los Angeles, the team that drafted at the 2013 NFL Draft. Austin signed a four-year, $42,000,000 extension including $28,500,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $10,500,000. In 2017, Austin earned a base salary of $3,500,000 and a roster bonus of $11,477,116, while carrying a cap hit of $14,977,116.
Austin's lucrative contract extension brought frustration from numerous Ram fans, because of Austin’s statistics didn’t compare to that type of monetary reward not the elite receivers in the league. He seemed to lose in the shuffle, as he was used more as a decoy to open the running lanes for Todd Gurley impressive MVP run.
Teams had expressed interest in trading for Austin, such as the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but no trades were executed. Sportswriter Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register was busy responding to tweets from Ram fans about the team, and of Austin. Hammond responded back to Austin’s status, that his agent and the organization were trying to restructure his contract or presumably his outright release.
The Rams seem to make a complete overhaul of the team this off-season, with Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Tavon Austin, and Michael Brockers as the remaining Jeff Fisher's first-round selections in St. Louis. Starting quarterback Jared Goff remains as the last of Fisher's first-round selections on the Rams roster.
Viewing the defensive side of the ball, the returning starters from last season team is, Lamarcus Joyner, Mark Barron, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and presumably Ethan Westbrook. Addition of Peters and Talib, replacing Trumaine Johnson (New York Jets) and Kavon Webster (recovering from ruptured Achilles), locks the outside, resigning of Nickell Robey-Coleman and Troy Hill, adding veteran cornerback Sam Shields, gives the defense a competitive edge in the defensive backfield.
Safety Cody Davis, departed today by agreeing to a three year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, speed, and his great special team play will be missed. Edge rusher Matt Longacre is recovering from back surgery, but the team placed a tender on him, as edge rusher Gary Sickell was signed too.
On the offensive side, the team re-signed running back Malcolm Brown (Gurley's backup), but the biggest loss was receiver Sammy Watkins, who chased the dollars to the Chiefs. Tight-end Derek Carrier signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders, kicker Sam Ficken was resigned, and tackle Michael Dunn was added to the team. Rams released running back Lance Dunbar, who never could get over the injury that plagued him all season long.
Tweet's of Tavon Austin Status
Obviously, with this information, it appears that Austin is still valuable to the Rams head coach Sean McVay's offense. Indeed he is important and needed because defenses are of concern with his versatility. Austin’s speed is a definite concern and his ability to run or receive the ball in the Rams’ offense. Defenses remained honest of Austin, where his body just being on the field helped engineer some of Todd Gurley's big plays.RSS Feed
If Austin is retained, he will have the opportunity to be 100 percent healthy for the team OTA's, something that he was not involved in last season. Austin was recovering from offseason wrist surgery, and when he released to practice, also was suffering from hamstring issues.
The next few days, we all shall see the fate of Tavon Austin, whether he agreed to a restructure and remain a Ram, a trade executed, or his outright release, walking away with $5,000,000.