INDIANAPOLIS — Though there's been widespread speculation that the Rams will use the franchise or transition tag on one of their pending free agents, general manager Les Snead intimated on Thursday that Los Angeles has not made a final decision on that front.
"We definitely know we've got it, and we know we've got to use it strategically," Snead said of the tag at the 2018 NFL Combine. "How we do that will depend on the next few weeks. But we're well aware it's in the back pocket. And we're also trying to get things done without using it."
Teams have until March 6 to designate one player for either the franchise or transition tag, so the Rams still have a bit of time to work out if they would like to use that option.
Two players who have consistently come up as tag candidates are safety Lamarcus Joyner and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Both performed well for Los Angeles in 2017, and figure to be in the club's plans moving forward. Snead was asked about Joyner on Thursday, but in his answer addressed all of the club's free agents.
"It's very important. All the guys we're going to talk about who are up are important," Snead said. "[I]t's a process. Wish it could get all done tomorrow. But definitely, I can tell you that that's an important task to work through, Lamarcus and a lot of other guys."
When it comes to Watkins, Snead admitted that there is a bit more urgency to his situation given that L.A. traded its 2018 second-round pick as part of the package to acquire the wideout last summer.
"I think when we did it, and you give up a second-round pick, we talked through the future, and it would be nice to make this more than just a one-year situation. So that's definitely talked about," Snead said.
But as also Snead noted, if it so happens that the Rams are not able to retain Watkins, there is the possibility the
Check out photos of Los Angeles Rams players at the NFL Combine through the years. (Credit: Associated Press)
club could recoup a compensatory draft pick. However, that selection would not be in the second round, because all compensatory picks begin in the third.
"You just talk through all those variables," Snead said. "But the goal was, it would be nice [to reach a new deal] because, it's hard to find talent at receiver. And it'd be nice to have a little long-term relationship, not just short term."
As for the player the Rams have placed the franchise tag on for the last two seasons, cornerback Trumaine Johnson is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent on March 14. And like head coach Sean McVay on Wednesday, Snead said Thursday that bringing back Johnson remains a possibility for Los Angeles.
"I think the goal is to have really good players — as many as possible," Snead said, "especially in the defensive backfield."