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.
K | Greg Zuerlein*^
— 38-of-40 field goals made (95.0 percent) || 44-of-46 extra points made || League-leading 158 points
P | Johnny Hekker*^
— 65 punts || 44.3-yard net average (No. 2) || 47.9-yard gross average (No. 4) || 30 punts downed inside the 20
RS | Pharoh Cooper^*
— 27.4-yard kick return average (No. 1) || 12.5-yard punt return average (No. 2)
K | Sam Ficken
— 2-of-3 regular-season field goals made, 2-of-2 postseason field goals made || 4-of-5 regular-season extra points made, 1-of-1 postseason extra point made
LS | Jake McQuaide*
ANY FREE AGENTS?
McQuaide will be an unrestricted free agent. Ficken will be an exclusive rights free agent.
LOOK BACK, LOOK AHEAD
The Rams had arguably the best special teams unit in the league under coordinator John Fassel. Los Angeles’ starting kicker, punter, returner, and long snapper were each named to the Pro Bowl and to the Associated Press All-Pro team after the successful 2017 campaign.
Check out the photos of the Rams at the 2018 NFL Honors in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Credit: Todd Rosenberg/NFL, Perry Knotts/NFL, Ben Liebenberg/NFL
Zuerlein was on pace to set an NFL scoring record when a back injury flared up in Week 15, causing the kicker to miss the rest of the season. According to general manager Les Snead, Zuerlein should be healthy in time for the 2018 season.
Hekker’s punting prowess is expected at this point, but he still had a noteworthy season in downing nearly half of his punts inside the 20-yard line and recording only four touchbacks in 2017. The punter signed a two-year extension last fall, keeping him under contract with L.A. through 2022.
Cooper began the season as Los Angeles’ kick returner, but began returning punts as well in Week 6 against the Jaguars. The South Carolina product excelled in both roles, and should enter the offseason program to as the favorite to continue in them going forward.
McQuaide has been the Rams’ long snapper since 2011, when he arrived as an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State. He signed a contract extension through 2017 back in the summer of 2013, which gave the franchise and the long snapper plenty of stability. He and Los Angeles will have to make a decision on the future, however, because McQuaide’s contract is up. The Rams will also have to make a determination on Ficken, who is an exclusive rights free agent — meaning the player will not be able to negotiate with any other team should L.A. extend a qualifying offer.