A great deal of excitement surrounds the Los Angeles Rams’ 2016 season as the team returns to Southern California after 21 seasons in St. Louis. Though the Rams have missed the playoffs in 11 consecutive seasons, they could look to make a big splash in free agency by signing a marquee quarterback.
The Rams had a 7-9 record last year with Nick Foles and Case Keenum splitting time at the position. As they head out West, L.A. might be looking at a few big names to take over as their starting signal caller. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that the Rams have had discussions about trying to sign Peyton Manning, while Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has suggested that Robert Griffin III could be an option for Los Angeles.
Both quarterbacks are likely to be available in free agency next month. Peyton Manning seems likely to retire this offseason, but if he does come back for another year, the Denver Broncos won’t bring him back for the $19 million he’s owed on the final year of his contract. Griffin is almost sure to be released, since the Washington Redskins will owe him more than $16 million if they don’t cut him by March 9.
Manning and Griffin might not be ideal options for the Rams. While the Broncos quarterback just won a Super Bowl, he was one of the league’s worst starters in 2015 and is clearly in the twilight of his career. Griffin didn’t throw one pass as Kirk Cousins’ backup last season, and he’s struggled since leading Washington to the playoffs as a rookie in 2012. But the Rams might not have a lot of choices going into 2016.
Foles might have been the worst NFL quarterback last year, and Keenum has never been a successful starter in four NFL seasons. With the No.15 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Rams might not be able to select a player that they believe can be their quarterback of the future. Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch are considered the top prospects but each may be taken before No. 15, according to some draft projections. However, quarterbacks like Connor Cook, Christian Hackenberg and Dak Prescott.
Los Angeles recently put themselves in position to spend money in free agency, releasing defensive end Chris Long, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis and tight end Jared Cook. Doing so saved the team about $24 million in salary-cap space.
Manning might find it hard to turn down an offer from the Rams if he hopes to play another season. While the two-time Super Bowl champion is expected to ride off into the sunset after winning the title, NFL history is littered with Hall of Fame quarterbacks that played well beyond their prime. Brett Favre played for two different teams after his first retirement, while Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath both ended their careers in California when they were no longer reliable quarterbacks.
For Griffin, his career is far from over. The quarterback hasn’t been the same since 2012, but he’ll be just 26 years old for the entire 2016 season. The Rams passed on their chance to draft Griffin four years ago, trading the No.2 overall pick to Washington.
If Manning or Griffin could even be serviceable for Los Angeles, the Rams would have a chance at making the playoffs next season. Denver just won the Super Bowl without a top quarterback, and L.A. has the pieces to potentially boast a top defensive unit. The Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans didn’t have the same success as Denver, but they were able to make the postseason with a mediocre quarterback and an above average defense.
Manning threw nine touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in 10 regular-season games last year, and he posted a 75.4 passer rating in the playoffs. Griffin had an 86.9 passer rating when he started nine games in 2014.