NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2022 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year began March 16 at 4 p.m. ET, which means free-agent signings could be made official after that. The first round of the 2022 NFL draft begins April 28 on ESPN.
The Rams entered free agency off a thrilling Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, the franchise's first Super Bowl victory since the 1999 seasons and its first championship in Los Angeles since 1951. Several key players from the title run, most notably outside linebacker Von Miller and receiver Odell Beckham Jr., were free agents as the cap-strapped Rams look to run it back again in 2022.
The Rams also faced potential departures on the offensive line, as right guard Austin Corbett and center Brian Allen were unrestricted free agents while veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth retired. Other key free agents the Rams had were cornerback Darious Williams, a valuable piece of their secondary, and running back Sony Michel.
Bobby Wagner, linebacker
Wagner agreed to a five-year deal with the Rams. Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter the deal is for $50 million and can be worth up to $65 million if Wagner reaches incentives.
What it means: This signing makes sense on several levels. Most obviously, the Rams needed help at inside linebacker and Wagner gives them a huge upgrade over Troy Reeder, who did not play well enough in 10 starts last season to get tendered as a restricted free agent. The Rams' MO since their relocation to Los Angeles has been to acquire big-name stars as they try to find their footing in a market long dominated by the Dodgers and Lakers. Wagner not only qualifies as such as an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a six-time First Team All-Pro but he's also from the area, having attended high school in Ontario, California, roughly 35 miles east of downtown L.A. Whether it was a factor or not in Wagner's decision to sign with the Rams, he was -- and perhaps still is -- ticked off over how the Seahawks handled his release. Now he'll get to face them twice a year as a member of the defending Super Bowl champs.
What's the risk: The Seahawks released Wagner because they didn’t feel his play warranted the $16.6 million he was set to make in the final year of his contract. He hasn't made as many of the big-impact plays in recent seasons that previously had him in regular conversations for defensive player of the year. But at 31, Wagner still racked up 170 tackles in 15 games last season, which broke his own franchise record from 2016 (teammate Jordyn Brooks later broke that record). That reflected how Wagner is still playing at a high level and also how the Seahawks' defense spent more time on the field than any in the NFL. While Wagner isn't as fast as he once was, he's remained durable. Before he hurt his knee on the opening play of Week 17, he had missed only one game since the start of the 2016 season. -- Brady Henderson
Allen Robinson II, wide receiver
What it means: The Rams get another WR1 who can put up 1,000 yards without blinking, which means the best just got better. When healthy, Robinson can be as good as there is in the NFL. He is coming off his worst season in the NFL -- save for 2017 when he played in just one game -- because of injuries. The expectation is that Robinson will flourish in Los Angeles because he's finally playing with a top-tier quarterback in Matthew Stafford after a career playing with the likes of Mitch Trubisky and Blake Bortles, among others.
What's the risk: There are a few. Injuries were an issue last season, so his health could be a factor, but Robinson won't be the WR1 he's used to being throughout his career. If he can put aside his natural ego, then he could flourish, but what happens if he doesn't get the types of targets he's used to playing alongside Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and, possibly, Odell Beckham Jr.? Only time will tell. -- Josh Weinfuss
Joe Noteboom, left tackle
Offensive lineman Joe Noteboom has a three-year deal to return to the Rams worth up to $47.5 million that includes $25 million guaranteed.
What it means: With the expectation that left tackle Andrew Whitworth will retire, keeping Noteboom to take over at one of the game's most important positions was a top priority for the Rams. Noteboom has played well when given the opportunity after spending time at both tackle spots and left guard over the past three seasons. He was drafted to replace Whitworth. Many thought that would happen sooner but it seems Noteboom's time is now.
What's the risk: While Noteboom has played well, he's also struggled with injuries at times. He suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 6 of the 2019 season that cost him 10 games, a calf issue that kept him out of six games in 2020 and a chest issue that forced him to sit out the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl this past season. At this hefty cost with the left tackle job now his, the Rams will need him to stay on the field consistently to live up to this deal. -- Nick Wagoner
Brian Allen, center
Allen signed a three-year, $24 million deal to return as the Rams' starting center.
What it means: After re-signing tackle Joe Noteboom, the Rams continued to keep their offensive line intact by retaining Allen. He started all but one game for the Rams in 2021 after returning from an extended absence caused by a knee injury. Keeping Noteboom and Allen offers some much-needed continuity for the offensive line -- especially in the middle, where Allen and quarterback Matthew Stafford developed a strong rapport on their way to a Super Bowl victory.
What's the risk: Like Noteboom, Allen comes with some injury risk. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 9 of the 2019 season, an ailment that cost him the rest of that season and all of the 2020 season after a bout with COVID-19 helped derail his recovery. To his credit, Allen recovered and played well in 2021, but the sample of productive football remains relatively small and expectations will increase with his new deal. -- Wagoner
Brandon Powell, receiver
Powell is returning to the Rams on a one-year deal.
What it means: He filled a need for the Rams upon his arrival last season and made the most of his opportunity, earning this one-year deal. Primarily a kickoff and punt returner, Powell was signed to the team's practice squad during the season and eventually appeared in six regular-season games. He averaged 22 yards per punt return in those games, including a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown during Week 16. He then averaged 11.6 yards per punt return in the postseason.
What's the risk: Almost none. He performed when he got the chance, continues to fill a need on the roster so the Rams don't have to search in the draft for a returner with a limited number of picks. The one-year, prove-it deal gives Powell the opportunity to keep the momentum going. He does offer some potential depth at receiver if there is a rash of injuries as well. Though he has had limited work on offense in his career, he did have a 100-yard receiving game to close out his rookie season in 2018 with the Lions. -- Jeff Legwold