Rams re-sign Barron, tender qualifying offers to Keenum, Cunningham

The Rams today locked up a key piece of their defensive future by agreeing to contract terms with unrestricted free agent linebacker Mark Barron and defensive end William Hayes.

In addition, they have tendered qualifying offers to quarterback Case Keenum and running back Benny Cunningham.

A four-year veteran from Alabama, Barron will move full-time to outside linebacker this year with Alec Ogletree moving inside.

Barron, 26, was the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a safety and finished the season with 89 tackles. But the Buccaneers inexplicably gave up on Barron in his third season, and the Rams traded a fourth and sixth-round pick.

It turned out to be a shrewd move as Barron has flourished with the Rams playing a hybrid safety/outside linebacker role – including last season when he replaced an injured Alec Ogletree at OLB and was one of the Rams most consistent defenders.

By re-signing Barron, the Rams stemmed the losses of starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins and free safety Rodney McLeod, who will sign with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, respectfully.

The Keenum tender comes with a salary of $3,352,000 and guarantees the Rams will get a first-round pick as compensation if Keenum signs elsewhere.

The Cunningham tender means a $1.647 salary and a pick from the same round in which the player was originally selected through the NFL Draft. Cunningham, though, was signed as an undrafted free agent so the Rams will not get a draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

It doesn’t appear the markets for either Cunningham or Keenum are shaping up in a way the Rams would be in danger of losing them.