The Rams have acquired several key players in the past month, and they eventually may have to make some tough decisions about which ones they’ll keep.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has signed a one-year deal, and now receiver Brandin Cooks has been acquired as he enters the option year of his rookie contract. With defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the same posture and with only one franchise tag to use, the Rams eventually may have to let one or more of these guys walk after 2018.
It likely won’t be Donald, who remains on track for a long-term deal. Between Suh and Cooks, the Rams are staring at an either/or decision (assuming Suh’s deal doesn’t include a no-tag provision).
The Rams didn’t hesitate to take a similar risk last year, adding receiver Sammy Watkins in the final year of his contract and letting him walk away via free agency. Still, even with the added compensatory draft-pick consideration that comes from free agents leaving, the Rams watched a second-round pick walk away this year when Watkins left, and they could see their 2018 first-round pick become a one-year stint with Cooks.
Beyond Suh and Cooks, the Rams traded for veteran cornerback Aqib Talib with two years left on his current deal, and they traded for former Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters with one year left on his rookie contract and an option year.
The end result of the various trades (including picks added from the trades of defensive end Robert Quinn and linebacker Alec Ogletree) is that the Rams have only one third-round pick, three fourth-round picks, and two sixth-round picks in the 2018 draft. They also have given up a second-round pick in 2019.
The approach cuts again the approach that many teams take to building the franchise, opting for cheap, young talent that can be developed at low cash and cap numbers and that becomes the nucleus of a team that has consistency and continuity.