The Los Angeles News group has confirmed through a high-ranking league source that Los Angeles Rams’ cornerback Janoris Jenkins has fired agent Malik Shareef.
Jenkins is one of 12 unrestricted free agents on the Rams, and one of their two UFA starting cornerbacks along with Trumaine Johnson whom they hope to retain this offseason.
The move by Jenkins comes at an inopportune time as the Rams have had on-going discussions with his agent about a new long-term deal. By NFL rules, Jenkins is not allowed to hire an agent for five days and the Rams are not allowed to negotiate with him during that time. Nevertheless, sources indicate it shouldn’t be a long-range detriment to the Rams locking Jenkins up.
The Rams are contemplating whether to use their franchise tag on either Jenkins or Johnson, a decision that might rely heavily on progress on a long-term deal with one or the other.
The Rams are allowed to franchise tag Jenkins during the five-day grace period, if they so decided.
National Football League teams learned today they will have roughly $12 million more to spend on player salaries in 2016 than 2015.
And for the Rams, it only adds to their already tremendous financial flexibility.
According top a high-ranking team executive, NFL teams received a league memo this afternoon indicating the 2016 team salary cap has been set at $155.27 million, up from $143.28 in 2015.
As a result, the Rams are approximately $60 million under the cap, and that bodes well considering they have `12 unrestricted free agents, including starting cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.
Incidentally, a Rams source indicated the club has been in active talks this week with the representatives of Johnson and Jenkins and said those talks will continue.
Rams general manager Les Snead said Thursday it’s possible the club will use their franchise tag on one of their free agents, but that they are still evaluating whether or not to utilize it.
It took a little while to get things figured out – not to mention a late-season coaching change at offensive coordinator in 2015 – but Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin appears on track for a breakout season in 2016.
In 2015 – Austin’s third year with the Rams – the former eighth pick overall from West Virginia posted career highs in pass receptions (52 for 474 yards) and with 434 yards rushing on 52 attempts for a 8.4 yards per carry average.
The key is building on that momentum, which the Rams hope to do with a full season under offensive coordinator Rob Boras and new passing game coordinator Mike Groh.
“I think, from Tavon’s standpoint, he has done everything we have asked of him,” said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. “I think we have to do more as a staff to get him the football. I think you saw that late in the season, when Tavon got the touches, in addition to the punt returns. I think he’s one of the most dangerous returners in the league, and he has proven that. We’ve had some called back, but I would hate to punt the ball in the field of play with him being there, if I was playing against him.
“I think from that standpoint, we have to do whatever we can do to get him the football. Keep in mind, there’s only one brown ball and we’ve got good players on offense. But I think the combination of Tavon and Todd (Gurley) and the rest of the guys, I think it provides us an opportunity to be very explosive opportunity.”
Aside from quarterback, the most pressing Rams need offensively is a No. 1 wide receiver. And really, based on the overall play of the wide receivers last year, the Rams are probably in the market for a couple of new additions.
The good news is, the 2016 draft class could yield a handful of intriguing players at wide receiver. Armed with the 15th pick overall and picks 43 and 45 in the second round, the Rams are well positioned to upgrade the position.
“I don’t want to give too many cards away, but we do like some wide receivers in this draft,” said Rams general manager Les Snead.
If the Rams invested their first pick in a wide receiver, the logical names in consideration are Corey Coleman, of Baylor, Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss and Josh Doctson of TCU.
In the second round, Will Fuller of Notre Dame, Michael Thomas of Ohio State and Tyler Boyd from Pittsburgh could be available when the Rams select 43rd and 45th.
Snead believes improvement at wide receiver is twofold: It’s about current players on the roster getting better and looking to the draft for help.
“Here’s what I would say about an upgrade,” Snead said. “I do think that last year, we dropped too many balls at times. I think whether it’s those guys that we have in-house -because they can do it – continue to get more consistent, or in this draft. In all drafts, there are good football players, and I think you’re always going to look to, if you can add, especially a good offensive skill player, you’re going to do it. Because scoring points does help you win.”
INDIANAPOLIS – It probably goes without saying moving back to Los Angeles will help the Rams attract top free agent players. Between the weather, the endorsement possibilities and living in L.A., you have to believe players will give the Rams a closer look moving forward.
“I think young kids – a lot of them spend time in the offseason out there. If you’re from L.A. you know the weather is really good and it’s a good place to be if you’re young,” Rams general manager Les Snead said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Nevertheless, it’s only one part of the equation players will take into consideration when deciding between the Rams and other teams.
“That’s up to the human being,” Snead said. “Some may want to live in certain parts of the country but at the end of the day with free agents, because our world is – a lot of them are going to be transit guys and so they’re going to play somewhere in the season and live somewhere else in the offseason. But No. 1, it’s going to come down to money and if you’re in the ballpark and No. 2 it’s going to come down to your head coach and your coaching staff and they’re going to vet whop they’re going to be working with every day and after that the city comes into it. But yes I think L.A. is a positive thing for young professional athletes.”