The Los Angeles Rams have moved early in the free agency period to resign OLB Mark Barron to a new five-year contract. The 26-year-old was among the top five linebackers to hit the market this afternoon, a fact reflected by the Rams’ $45 million valuation.
Barron only made the switch to linebacker from safety last season and, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, two teams made an approach to sign him in an effort to strengthen their defensive backfield. But it seems that Barron is relishing in his new position, and turned down the chance to leave the Rams before they officially took residence in Los Angeles, in an effort to solidify his place on the edge of the front seven.
Clearly the Rams front office appreciates Barron’s versatility on the defence, making the big decision to pay him linebacker money. If all goes to plan, he can fit into their defensive scheme in a similar way to Tyrann Mathieu at the Cardinals, another defensive player who – while normally a safety – spends more than his fair share of snaps in the box near the line of scrimmage.
Moving Barron from safety to outside linebacker has had a knock-on effect on the rest of the Rams’ defence, with Alec Ogletree moving to the interior of the linebacking corps. Ogletree spent most of last season on the sidelines with injury, allowing Barron the opportunity to flourish in his position.
Barron is the Rams’ second re-signing of free agency, following the signing of DE William Hayes to a three-year, $21 million deal. The team has already lost CB Janoris Jenkins to the Giants, and FS Rodney McLeod to the Eagles.