NFL Roundtable: Rams, Chargers change and quarterbacks on the move

The NFL league year began Wednesday, and the start of free agency is just the beginning of how teams are reshaping rosters. Super Bowl LVI Champion Rams and the Chargers made big adjustments a month before the draft. Los Angeles Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, Rams beat writer Gary Klein and Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller discuss what happened and what’s on the horizon.

If the Rams wanted to Keep from Miller, there’s no way they could have afforded what the Bills offered the edge rusher. Many claimed Miller did so well with the Rams because of Aaron Donald’s presence. However, there’s no denying that Donald was also helped with threats from edge rushers Miller and Leonard Floyd. How big do the Rams have to get to replace the future Hall of Fame defender?

Small: It wasn’t just what Miller brought onto the field, it was what the champion-proven player provided for the Rams in the locker room. Those types of guys—future Hall of Famers, great leaders—are not readily available. If the Rams don’t get someone else’s production early in the season, Les Snead makes another midseason switch.

Farmer: The Rams won’t have to work hard to replace Von Miller. He did a good job for them as a temp, but he wasn’t von Miller at the height of his career. It’s easier to replace an edge rusher than a guy who puts the kind of pressure in the middle like Donald does.

Now that the Rams have added Allen Robinson, does that pretty much mean Odell Beckham Jr. is out of the picture with the Rams? And what could that mean for Robert Woods?

Small: Beckham remains in the Rams plans if he is looking to complete another team-friendly deal. Trading with Woods has been a possibility since signing his renewal in 2020, which will net him a $15.7 million salary cap this season. That’s a heavy load with Cooper Kupp at $18.7 million. As valuable as Woods was to the Rams, I’m not sure most teams see him as #1.

Farmer: Not sure if that takes OBJ out of the picture, but yes, it paves the way for the team to trade Robert Woods. Woods is a #1 receiver for someoneand the rams will load at the location.

With the retirement of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and the move of right guard Austin Corbett to Carolina, the Rams will shuffle the offensive line again. Through which vehicles do you see the Rams reshaping the line?

Small: The Rams drafted Joe Noteboom as Whitworth’s replacement in 2018, but they probably didn’t anticipate it would take four years. Now that they have signed Noteboom to a new contract, they have their left tackle. The Rams could sign or trade a veteran to replace Corbett, or design and develop one.

Farmer: If history is any guide, the Rams can reshape the line in two ways: veteran players or novices. I joke, but Les Snead did a good job of finding capable linemen – and others – in the later rounds of the draft. Joe Noteboom looks perfectly poised to tackle and the Rams should be able to piece the rest of the line together.

Matthew Stafford unleashes a pass as Rams offensive tackle Joe Noteboom (70) protects in the playoffs against Tampa Bay.

Rams offensive tackle Joe Noteboom (70) had a good game starting in the NFC playoffs against Tampa Bay for the injured and now-eliminated Andrew Whitworth.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Speaking of offensive line, the Chargers nearly made the playoffs last season despite a two-year fiasco at right flank. The acquisition of Bryan Bulaga should solidify proper tackle, but he hasn’t played much in the last two seasons. Two seasons ago, they went the veteran free agent’s route with right guard Trai Turner, but that fell short due to injuries. Do you see the Chargers trying a different tactic to shore up that side of the line?

Miller: The Chargers drafted an offensive tackle in the first round last year and hit big with Rashawn Slater. Could they repeat that success this time with number 17? That seems very unlikely. Honestly, I keep waiting for them to sign someone like Moses Morgan, a veteran who has proven reliable and can stay on the field. But Morgan just signed with the Ravens. The right tackle market has thinned out a lot this week. At the moment I don’t have an answer, but the chargers better. You must strengthen that right side, and soon.

Farmer: Not sure what they will do. The offensive line was an issue for the Chargers long before they moved to Los Angeles.

Small: With rising star Justin Herbert still in an affordable window, the seemingly all-in Chargers should do whatever it takes to invest heavily in offensive linemen to keep Herbert out of the way.

Coach Brandon Staley made no qualms about needing parts on defense, adding Linebacker Khalil Mackcorner kick JC Jackson and defensive tackles Sebastian Joseph Day and Austin Johnson is an impressive start. What do you think the Chargers need to adapt to this new corps of players?

Miller: What Staley is doing is rebuilding that defense within his own very specific specifications. Mack and Jackson are perfect examples of this. They’re elite talent who can play the way Staley wants to play on defense. Staley has publicly reiterated that mantra—“play the way we want to play”—perhaps 100 times since joining the Chargers last year. The Chargers didn’t have enough Staley players in 2021. That is changing now.

Small: I don’t know but it seems like the AFC West teams are doing blockbuster moves every hour. Khalil Mack, Russell Wilson, Davante Adams. Impressive!

Farmer: This Chargers defense will be fun to watch. In fact, this whole AFC West arms race is fascinating.

Lots of quarterback news this offseason. Let’s do some quick-fire reactions on these guys. Russell Wilson in Denver.

Farmer: Wilson isn’t necessarily making the Broncos a Super Bowl team just yet, but he’s making them relevant for the first time in six years.

Miller: Miles up in Denver for wideouts Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton who finally have someone to throw the ball to them!

Small: Sad to see he’s leaving the NFC West.

Mitch Trubisky in Pittsburgh.

Farmer: There were 446 bridges in Pittsburgh. Trubisky is No. 447.

Small: No way to top Sam’s comment. He hit it out of PNC Park.

Miller: Going from Big Ben to Medium Mitch is far from inspiring to me.

Carson Wentz in Washington.

Farmer: Need to hire a new stylist. That McDonald’s look doesn’t work.

Small: Three teams in six years is not an encouraging sign.

Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz gives a thumbs up during his inaugural press conference.

Quarterback Carson Wentz praises his start for the Washington Commanders.

(Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

Miller: If playing for Frank Reich, his old Philadelphia offensive coordinator, didn’t work for Wentz, I’m not sure why it will work for him now with Ron Rivera.

Where could Jimmy Garoppolo end up?

Farmer: Maybe he’ll bring his talents to South Beach.

Small: Indy seems like a good place to land.

Miller: It’s getting harder and harder to follow this game with QB gaming chairs. I’ll say Carolina since everyone seems to be on Sam Darnold at this point.

What do you think of this whopping deal to bring Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns?

Small: Matthew Stafford, due for a pre-season extension, smiles.

Miller: My first thought upon hearing that Watson had agreed to a contract guaranteeing him $230 million was how big the guarantee would be for Justin Herbert when his renewal got rolling.

Farmer: That’s an incredible amount of money the Browns are paying Watson [ reportedly $230M guaranteed over five years]whose troubles – and possible punishment from the league – are not over yet. NFL Roundtable: Rams, Chargers change and quarterbacks on the move

Andrew Schnitker

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