ESPN Names Rams As Best Fit For Free Agent Edge Rusher Danielle Hunter
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

NFL free agency does not kick off for another few weeks on March 13. However, with the postseason finished and the start of the new league year being the next major date on the calendar, free agency projections and predictions are the main story. And for the Los Angeles Rams, free agency may look a little different than it has in year’s past. According to Spotrac, the Rams are slated to have around $35.3 million in cap space, a rarity for a team that faced cap nightmares for multiple years.

But this puts them in the conversation to land a top free agent or two this offseason to expedite their retooling process. And one name that could make plenty of sense is Minnesota Vikings edge rusher Danielle Hunter. Hunter has spent all eight seasons of his NFL career with the Vikings, and at 29, he is finally hitting free agency.

Hunter has been named to four Pro Bowls in the last five seasons and was on the All-Pro Second Team in 2018. However, he is coming off of a career year in terms of getting to the quarterback, and the Rams are believed to be his best free agent fit according to Matt Bowen of ESPN:

The Rams have money to spend in free agency, and filling the edge rushing need should be a priority. Hunter ‘s 16.5 sacks with the Vikings in 2023 were the fifth most in the league, and he also forced four fumbles. Adding Hunter would give the Rams a productive veteran force opposite Byron Young — who had eight sacks as a rookie — with Aaron Donald on the interior. That’s how you upgrade a pass rush.

Hunter would certainly be a game-changer on an already strong defensive line. The superstar Aaron Donald next to Hunter’s veteran savvy and the young Byron Young and Kobie Turner would put pressure on quarterbacks and run games alike.

Spotrac’s market value calculator determines Hunter’s annual average value to be worth $20 million, meaning L.A. would have more than enough cap space to make a deal happen. They have also found many ways to get creative with the cap and open up even more space when it’s been needed.

Chris Shula: Rams using same defensive structures

Chris Shula originally joined the Rams organization in 2017 and has held various roles during that time. He originally began his NFL coaching career in 2015 at the age of 29 as a defensive quality control coach for the San Diego Chargers.

As he prepares for his new position as defensive coordinator, Shula said the team will use a similar defense as the one Morris ran last season:

“I think we’ll use a lot of the same structures, the same 3-4 structure and some of the same core beliefs,” Shula said. “But it’s all about the players. So we’re going to do whatever the players can execute at a high level, where they can go out and play fast and play with confidence. And whatever the offense gives us, we’ll be able to have answers to, and they can go be the best version of themselves.”