While they still have several high-priced players, the Rams were forced to cut ties with several productive, yet expensive veterans this offseason in order to free up cap space. Among the players the Rams parted with include running back Todd Gurley, receiver Brandin Cooks, linebackers Dante Fowler, Cory Littleton and Clay Matthews. Los Angeles also said goodbye to safety Eric Weddle, who decided to retire following a highly successful career.
Despite the loss of talent, the cupboard is not bare in Los Angeles. The Rams still have Aaron Donald, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Los Angeles also has Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey along with quarterback Jared Goff, who has won an average of 11 regular season games per year since taking over as the team's starting quarterback in 2017. Goff, following a somewhat disappointing 2019 season, will look to help lead the Rams back into the postseason after Los Angeles just finished outside of the playoffs this past season.
Along with their established stars, the Rams will also be relying on their rookie class to help shoulder the burden in 2020. Two members of the team's rookie class made our cut when looking at the Rams' top-five salary cap bargains heading into the season. Here's a complete run-down of the list.
5. Cam Akers, running back
2020 salary cap hit: $610,000
The Rams' first pick in the 2020 draft, Akers will get a chance to compete to be the team's starting running back. One of the highest-rated running backs in this year's draft, the 5-foot-10, 171-pound Akers gained 1,369 all-purpose yards while scoring 18 touchdowns during his final season at Florida State. Given his inability to train with his teammates this offseason (due to COIVD-19), Akers will likely start the season splitting carries with Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown and John Kelly. What he does with his opportunities early in the season may determine how much work Akers will ultimately receive during his rookie campaign.
4. Terrell Lewis, outside linebacker
2020 cap hit: $610,000
Fowler, Matthews and Littleton accounted for 23 of the Rams' 50 sacks last season. And while they certainly won't expect him to make up for that entire total, Los Angeles is expected a lot out of Lewis, the team's third-round pick in this year's draft. In fact, there is a real possibility that Lewis -- who recorded 11.5 sacks during his final season at Alabama -- will be part of the Rams' starting lineup when Los Angeles hosts the Cowboys in Week 1.
"I think you guys are probably aware of his talent," Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley said of Lewis earlier this offseason, via the team's official website. "His talent is not indicative of where he was drafted, but we're excited about the skill set he brings to the table, and hopefully we can get his best football. I think it's still ahead of him. I think he's still a developing player, but from a skillset standpoint, he's what you're looking for in an outside rusher."
3. Taylor Rapp, strong safety
2020 salary cap hit: $1,602, 203
A second-round pick in the 2019 draft, Rapp enjoyed a productive rookie campaign. In 15 games (10 starts), Rapp finished third on the team in tackles (100) and tied for second in interceptions (two) and passes defensed (eight). In Week 13, his 31-yard pick-six of fellow rookie Kyler Murray helped the Rams defeat the Cardinals. Rapp should be expected to have an even bigger season in 2020, his first year as a full-time starter.
2. Robert Woods, wide receiver
2020 salary cap hit: $8,175,000
Woods, as far as annual salaries are concerned, is the 38th highest-paid receiver in the NFL, according to Over The Cap. Last season, the 28-year-old receiver caught a career-high 90 passes for 1,134 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills' second-round pick in the 2013 draft, Woods enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, his second season with the Rams. That fall, Woods caught 86 passes for 1,219 yards and six touchdowns during the regular season. He caught an additional 17 passes during the postseason while helping the Rams capture their first NFC title since 2001.
1. Cooper Kupp, wide receiver
2020 salary cap hit: $2,371,690
Kupp, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, is among the least expensive No. 1 receivers in the NFL. A former third-round pick, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Kupp enjoyed his best season yet in 2019, as he led the Rams with 94 receptions for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kupp, who had a four-week streak of 100-yard games during the 2019 season, caught seven passes for 220 yards and a score in the Rams' Week 8 win over the Bengals last season.