The 2017 Rams won their first NFC West title since 2003 with an 11-5 regular-season record. As Los Angeles' focus shifts to 2018 and beyond, we'll take a position-by-position look at how the Rams performed in 2017 and how each group currently stands at the start of the 2018 offseason.
OLB | Robert Quinn
— Second on team with 8.5 sacks || Tied for second on team with eight tackles for loss || 12 QB hits || two forced fumbles || 34 total tackles
OLB | Connor Barwin
— 43 tackles || 5.0 sacks || four TFLs || nine QB hits || one fumble recovery
OLB | Matt Longacre
— Third on team with 5.5 sacks || Tied for second on team with 12 QB hits || Five TFLs || One forced fumble || One fumble recovery
OLB | Samson Ebukam
— 38 tackles || 2.0 sacks || three QB hits || one TFL || one forced fumble || tied for team lead with eight special teams tackles
The Rams have the 23rd overall selection in this year's NFL Draft. Take a look back at previous No. 23 draft picks from the past 20 years. Photo credit: AP Images
OLB | Carlos Thompson**
— Three tackles | one tackle for loss | one special teams tackle
OLB | Garrett Sickles
— Active for Week 17 after spending much of the season on Los Angeles' practice squad
OLB | Ejuan Price
— Active for Week 9, spending much of the rest of the season on Los Angeles' practice squad | Signed a futures contract following the conclusion of the season
ANY FREE AGENTS?
Barwin will be an unrestricted free agent in mid-March. Longacre is slated to be a restricted free agent. And both Thompson and Sickles will be exclusive rights free agents.
LOOK BACK, LOOK AHEAD
With Los Angeles shifting to coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, outside linebackers had a different role on the 2017 Rams.
Quinn, for instance, went from being designated as a defensive end to an outside linebacker. His role within the defense did not change all that much — he was rushing the passer in the vast majority of situations. And with his snaps closely monitored from the offseason program through the season, Quinn was able to play in 15 of the Rams' 16 regular-season games — the most playing time he's received since 2014.
The Rams brought in Barwin as a free agent last March to help in the defensive transition, and the linebacker delivered with his play and his leadership. Barwin recorded 5.0 sacks in 14 games, recovering quickly from a forearm injury to help the Rams clinch their NFC West title.
Longacre and Ebukam provided strong rotational pieces for the Rams throughout the season, with both players making starts for the OLB ahead of them. Longacre started in Week 9 against the Texans for Quinn and Ebukam in Week 12 at Arizona for Barwin. With a strong rookie showing, it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to project Ebukam's role to expand in 2018.
And while it looks as if most of the Rams' outside linebackers should be back with the organization in 2017, L.A. and Barwin will have to figure out if both parties are a fit for one another going forward. Barwin was on only a one-year contract, and at 31, he may have a few seasons of good football left. The former Texan and Eagle did tell the media after the season ended that he'd "love to be back" in L.A. in 2018.
"I've been down this road before," Barwin said. "I'll just let it take care of itself, enjoy these next couple of months, and then hope to be back and get to work."