The Los Angeles Rams are taking a wait-and-see approach with free agents Ndamukong Suh and Dante Fowler Jr., but they hope to bring both back, head coach Sean McVay said Thursday at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
General manager Les Snead added that there’s “a good possibility” most of the team’s free agents will test the market, though that won’t preclude the Rams from bringing anyone back.
Suh, who joined the Rams last offseason on a one-year, $14 million deal, is expected to garner plenty of attention in free agency, especially after a strong postseason.
“The biggest thing you look at with Ndamukong — outstanding job in the playoffs, where he was really affecting the game in a variety of ways. ... He’s definitely somebody who we’re very interested in,” McVay said. “I know he’s going to get some interest around the league, and as we navigate through this process, a lot of those decisions are still to be made. But I think he did a great job of making a case for why he’s still such a special player in this league.”
Suh, 32, finished with just 4.5 sacks in the regular season, but he also had 19 quarterback hits, and added another 1.5 sacks and five QB hits in the postseason. Suh has yet to miss a game to injury in his nine-year career.
McVay also praised Fowler for his work in the playoffs, after the outside linebacker joined the Rams midseason via trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fowler had 1.5 sacks and three QB hits in three playoff games, and his pressure forced the interception in overtime of the NFC championship game that set up the Rams’ winning field goal.
“I thought Dante was outstanding down the stretch,” said McVay, who also praised the 24-year-old’s energy and practice habits. .”.. He’s got a motor, he loves football and he certainly is talented, so definitely want to be able to try to get Dante back.”
Fowler, the third overall pick in 2015 by Jacksonville, had his fifth-year option declined by the Jaguars and is hitting free agency after four seasons. He has 16 sacks and 27 QB hits in 47 regular-season games (seven starts) since missing his entire rookie campaign with a torn ACL.
Meanwhile, McVay said wide receiver Cooper Kupp is “making great progress” in his return from a torn ACL, which ended his season in mid-November.
“It’s something we’re going to monitor this offseason, but we fully expect him to be ready to go for training camp,” McVay said.
Kupp had 40 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns through eight games last season, his second in the NFL, before the injury.
“He’s a guy that, situationally, was a big part of our offense, whether it be in the red zone or on third downs,” McVay said. “So we certainly missed him.”
McVay also said he wasn’t surprised to hear 37-year-old left tackle Andrew Whitworth announce earlier this week he will return for a 14th NFL season.
“He likes to make it dramatic with the nice announcement,” McVay said with a smile. “The good thing about Andrew is we knew that right after we were walking off the field (at the Super Bowl). I got a sense from him that there wasn’t — that he certainly knew he wasn’t done right away.”
Whitworth started all 16 games for the ninth time in his career last season, despite battling an ankle injury in the middle of the year.
“He’s such a freak that he’s able to sustain and play at a high level (despite the injury),” McVay said. “But once he got that thing healthy, you could really see... he was outstanding.”
—By David DeChant, Field Level Media