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Rams Open Training Camp: Roster Ready to 'Blow Out' NFC West?

Which NFC West team made the biggest waves this offseason? Fan Nation publishers analyze:

They have their gigantic rings. Now it's time to return to their gigantic goals.

The Los Angeles Rams are coming off of their first Super Bowl win in two decades, which sent them into arguably the most critical offseason of the Sean McVay era. And the Rams passed that offseason test with flying colors, adding substantial star talent to a roster that was already one of the NFL's best. 

Now comes the next step forward, as Saturday is reporting day for training camp, with the Rams reassembling at UC Irvine to begin the work.

How does the L.A. roster and its moves rank in the NFC West? Our Mike Fisher at SI is suggesting the Rams are about to "engineer a blowout'' in the division and "might have it wrapped up before December.''

For now, though, we've graded the offseason for each team in the division.

Who made the biggest improvements? Who still needs the most help? Find out below:


LOS ANGELES RAMS

Key additions: Allen Robinson II, WR (FA); Bobby Wagner, LB (FA)

Key losses: Von Miller, OLB (FA); Darious Williams, CB (FA); Sebastian Joseph-Day, NT (FA); Austin Corbett, G (FA); Johnny Mundt, TE (FA); Orgonnia Okoronkwo, OLB (FA); Robert Woods, WR (trade); Andrew Whitworth, OT (retired), Johnny Hekker, P (released)

Offseason Grade: A. On the surface, it looks like the Rams lost a lot of talent, but most of the losses have been replaced by either rookies or players waiting for an opportunity to prove themselves. The loss of Robert Woods resulted in an upgrade in Robinson II, and the loss of Whitworth will give Joseph Noteboom the chance to step into the starting role at left tackle. The biggest loss was Miller, who left for Buffalo. But the Rams were able to upgrade middle linebacker with Wagner.

The best thing the Rams did was re-sign stars Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp. These moves saved them cap space this offseason and provides them an opportunity to compete for a second consecutive Super Bowl.

Biggest question: Along with keeping an eye on Jalen Ramsey on PUP ... What will happen with Odell Beckham Jr.? Beckham remains the Rams' biggest unsigned target. Given his role in last year’s Super Bowl run, the Rams would be wise to try and retain him heading into next year despite what his injury status might say. — Matt Galatzan

Fantasy fact: Kupp is coming off the greatest fantasy football season of all time among wide receivers, scoring 439.5 points. That passed the previous record set by Jerry Rice in 1995 when he scored 414.04 points. However, Rice did play one less game, and his 25.88 points per game average is still slightly higher than Kupp’s 25.85 fantasy points. — Michael Fabiano, Sports Illustrated


ARIZONA CARDINALS

Key additions: Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR (trade); Will Hernandez, G (UFA); Keaontay Ingram, RB (draft); Josh Jackson, CB (FA); Trey McBride, TE (draft); Ben Niemann, LB (FA); Cameron Thomas, LB (draft); Myjai Sanders, LB (draft); Nick Vigil, LB (UFA); RB Darrel Williams, RB (FA)

Key losses: Chase Edmonds, RB (UFA); Max Garcia, C/G (UFA); Jordan Hicks, LB (released); Chandler Jones, LB (UFA); Christian Kirk, WR (UFA); Jordan Phillips, DL (released)

Offseason grade: B. The Cardinals’ approach was panned in many places, but there was a method to their supposed madness. Large contracts weren’t a part of the plan because they did that with Jordan Phillips and linebacker Devon Kennard in 2020 and it wasn’t money well spent. Phillips is gone and Kennard had his deal reduced. With cap space needed for quarterback Kyler Murray, Brown, cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. and safety Jalen Thompson, the goal was to retain tight end Zach Ertz, running back James Conner, linebacker Dennis Gardeck, wide receiver A.J. Green, backup quarterback Colt McCoy and several others, and they were successful. Keeping key players and not creating additional needs is just as important as filling holes in the offseason. An underrated move could be the signing of Hernandez, who coaches hope will add needed physicality to the offensive line. That grade improves now that Murray is signed, which will end the distractions that began shortly after the 2021 season ended with a playoff loss to the Rams.

Biggest question: Call it a draw between adding depth to the secondary and figuring out the pass-rushing rotation aside from Markus Golden, who led the team with 11 sacks last season. The departure of Jones has resulted in numerous players hoping to fill the void, including Devon Kennard, Dennis Gardeck, Victor Dimukeje, Cameron Thomas, Myjai Sanders and Jesse Luketa. Meanwhile, the death of cornerback Jeff Gladney on Memorial Day has left the team searching for more depth as camp approaches. — Howard Balzer

Fantasy fact: Conner scored 18 total touchdowns with the Cardinals in 2021. It’s the second-most touchdowns scored by an Arizona back in the team’s history behind only David Johnson’s 20 in 2016. Conner’s 257.7 PPR fantasy points is third-most scored by a Cardinals runner behind Johnson (407.8) and Larry Centers (270.1) since 1990. — Fabiano

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Oct 17, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay during the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Key additions: Charvarius Ward, CB (FA), Ray-Ray McCloud, WR/PR (FA), Drake Jackson, DE (draft), Ty Davis-Price, RB (draft), Danny Gray, WR (draft)

Key losses: Alex Mack, C (retired); Laken Tomlinson, OG (FA); Tom Compton, OT (FA); Raheem Mostert, RB (FA); D.J. Jones, DT (FA); Arden Key, DE (FA); Jaquiski Tartt, SS (FA); K’Waun Williams, NCB (FA)

Offseason grade: C+. The 49ers had a modest offseason. In free agency, they addressed their two biggest needs—cornerback and special teams—but also lost three starters on their offensive line, two key contributors to their defensive line, two starters in the secondary and the fastest running back in the NFL when healthy. Most people expected the 49ers would be more aggressive considering they went to the NFC Championship Game last season and were one or two players away from a Super Bowl title. Plus, they had the ability to create roughly $17 million in cap space whenever they wanted this offseason simply by releasing Jimmy Garoppolo, but didn’t. For now, he’s still on the team and his contract remains on their books, and that has hindered their ability to make meaningful moves. To top it off, Deebo Samuel, arguably their best player, requested a trade at the beginning of the offseason and still hasn’t rescinded the request. He did attend mandatory minicamp, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he had a change of heart. It might just mean he didn’t want to pay more than $90,000 in fines. The 49ers need to extend Samuel before training camp starts in late July to avoid a major problem.

Biggest question: Who replaces K’Waun Williams? He had been the starter at nickelback for the 49ers since 2017, but he signed this offseason with the Broncos and the 49ers do not have a clear replacement. The starter during OTAs and minicamp was veteran Darqueze Dennard, who might not even make the team. The 49ers probably hope this year’s fifth-round pick Samuel Womack or last year’s fifth-round pick Deommodore Lenoir will win the job, but there’s no guarantee either player is a starting-caliber nickel. If the competition doesn’t produce one, the 49ers might need to sign one or trade for one before the regular season starts. — Grant Cohn

Fantasy fact: Elijah Mitchell led all 49ers running backs with 963 rushing yards during his rookie year, but can he do it again? The team has had a different rushing leader in each year under head coach Kyle Shanahan (2017-2022), though four of those runners were undrafted free agents. Unless injuries occur, I see Mitchell breaking this trend. — Fabiano

All 49ers: More on San Francisco’s offseason


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Key additions: Drew Lock, QB (trade); Kenneth Walker III, RB (draft); Noah Fant, TE (trade); Charles Cross, LT (draft); Abraham Lucas, RT (draft); Austin Blythe, C (FA); Shelby Harris, DT (trade); Quinton Jefferson, DT (FA); Uchenna Nwosu, LB (FA); Boye Mafe, LB (draft); Artie Burns, CB (FA); Coby Bryant, CB (draft); Tariq Woolen, CB (draft)

Key losses: Russell Wilson, QB (trade); Gerald Everett, TE (FA); Duane Brown, LT (FA); Brandon Shell, RT (FA); Ethan Pocic, C (FA); Carlos Dunlap, DE (released); Bobby Wagner, LB (released); D.J. Reed, CB (FA)

Offseason Grade: C-. Since the Seahawks traded the best quarterback in franchise history and released a future first ballot Hall of Famer in Wagner, the offseason may look like a complete failure from the outside. But while those losses undoubtedly will usher in a rebuild, GM John Schneider deserves some credit for quickly replenishing the roster with quality young talent, starting with the selection of Cross with the ninth selection in April’s draft. The team hit key positions of need, doubling up at the tackle, edge rush and cornerback positions, accelerating the rebuild process and helping fortify the roster for when the next franchise quarterback comes to town.

As for free agency, the Seahawks altered their approach by signing several younger free agents such as Nwosu and Burns who still may have untapped upside, particularly playing in a more aggressive defense under coordinator Clint Hurtt. Bringing Blythe in and reuniting him with offensive line coach Andy Dickerson could be an underrated move to further shore up the offensive line in front of either Geno Smith or Lock.

Biggest question: Who will be under center when the Seahawks begin the post-Russell Wilson era in Week 1? It’s been a decade since Seattle entered a season without No. 3 running the offense and with veteran journeymen Smith and Lock set to compete to replace him, quarterback remains a huge question mark for a team with plenty of talent on both sides of the football. Trading for Baker Mayfield also remains a possibility heading toward the start of the season.

Fantasy fact: As the starting quarterback in Denver in 2020, Lock’s top wide receiver averaged barely more than 10 fantasy points per game. In three starts for the Broncos in 2021, his top wideout averaged 9.6 fantasy points per game. If he ends up winning the top spot, fantasy fans should be very concerned about DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. — Fabiano

Seahawks Country: More on Seattle’s offseason


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