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Tag-and-trade blueprint is there for Rams and Dante Fowler, Jr...

January 14, 2020 07:39AM
Tag-and-trade blueprint is there for Rams and Dante Fowler Jr.

[theramswire.usatoday.com]

Cameron DaSilva

Navigating the waters of free agency this year could prove difficult for the Los Angeles Rams, who not only have several players on expiring contracts, but also a lack of spending money available to keep them all.

As a result, the team – specifically the defense – could look very different in 2020. Dante Fowler Jr., Cory Littleton and Michael Brockers are three of the Rams’ biggest free agents, and it’s possible all three will be playing elsewhere next season. Sure, Los Angeles could get compensatory picks in the 2021 draft for losing them, but there’s another way the team can get compensated for one of those players.

As we saw last year with three edge rushers, the tag-and-trade route is one approach that can prove to be effective in getting a draft pick (or two) in return for a player bound to leave in free agency. In 2019 alone, Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford and Frank Clark were all franchise tagged and then traded by their respective teams.

Here’s how each trade broke down:

Jadeveon Clowney

Texans receive: Jacob Martin, Barkevious Mingo, 2020 third-round pick
Seahawks receive: Clowney

Dee Ford

Chiefs receive: 2020 second-round pick
49ers receive: Ford

Frank Clark

Seahawks receive: 2019 first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick, 2019 third-round pick
Chiefs receive: Clark, 2019 third-round pick

After looking at those trades, it’s hard not to imagine the Rams taking a similar path with Fowler. He doesn’t have the track record that Clark had, posting 32 sacks in the three years before being dealt. Fowler also doesn’t have the versatility or potential that Clowney had when he was with the Texans. He’s probably closer to Ford, but two and a half years younger at the time of hitting free agency.

So, could the Rams tag Fowler and trade him to a team willing to give up a draft pick or two? Absolutely, especially with the price difference between a defensive end and linebacker, which will make Fowler’s one-year tag much cheaper than it could have been if he were playing defensive end.


(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
According to Over The Cap, the projected franchise tag value for a DE is $19.32 million. For a linebacker, which Fowler technically is, it’s $16.27 million. Considering the Rams gave Fowler a one-year, $14 million deal last year after he only had four sacks in 2018, it’s absolutely reasonable to think a team would be willing to pay him $16.27 million for the 2020 season.

Because he’s only 25 and won’t turn 26 until August, Fowler is still entering his prime. He posted a career-high 11.5 sacks, 58 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits this past season, proving to be the player the Rams thought he’d become when they extended him last offseason.

A player with those numbers is going to be coveted on the free-agent market, so it’s likely a team would be willing to part with a second- or third-round pick in a tag-and-trade scenario.

That would also give the team trading for Fowler the ability to negotiate a long-term deal with him, too – assuming the trade happens before the July 15 franchise tender deadline.

Ford and Clark both did, but Clowney’s trade came in September, so the Seahawks only got him for one season. Ford’s extension with the 49ers was worth $85 million for five years, while Clark’s was for $105.5 million over five years.

Fowler’s value is probably going to be somewhere in the range of $16 million per year, which after seeing the contracts Ford and Clark got, doesn’t seem like an inflated price. It’s also one a team will absolutely be willing to pay.

The Rams adding a second- or third-round pick would be a huge help for their draft haul, since they don’t have a first-rounder in 2020 (or 2021). It would give them another top-100 selection, and allow them added flexibility if they want to move up from their first selection at No. 52.

If they begin to realize they can’t afford Fowler, there’s no question they should consider tagging him and trading him elsewhere.
SubjectAuthorViewsPosted

  Tag-and-trade blueprint is there for Rams and Dante Fowler, Jr...

Rams43489January 14, 2020 07:39AM

  Re: Tag-and-trade blueprint is there for Rams and Dante Fowler, Jr...

oldschoolramfan167January 14, 2020 08:00AM

  Re: Tag-and-trade blueprint is there for Rams and Dante Fowler, Jr...

RAMpant Defense134January 14, 2020 08:24AM

  Don't they get a 3rd anyway for letting him walk

ferragamo79113January 14, 2020 09:04AM

  Re: Don't they get a 3rd anyway for letting him walk

RAMpant Defense114January 14, 2020 09:09AM

  oh yeah

ferragamo79123January 14, 2020 09:19AM

  Getting a pick in this year's draft vrs next year's draft

Rams Junkie85January 14, 2020 06:07PM

  they should be able to get a 2nd+ for Fowler...imo

SunTzu_vs_Camus58January 15, 2020 03:50AM

  Re: I expect he will be desired

merlin143January 14, 2020 08:59AM

  Re: 2 concerns

AlbaNY_Ram165January 14, 2020 09:23AM

  Re: well reasoned

leafnose75January 15, 2020 03:25AM