Free Agents Dunbar and Barwin Filling Key Roles

Eagles' Connor Barwin celebrates after the Eagles beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday, December 8, 2013. ( Yong Kim / Staff Photographer )

In spite of not being able to sign the free agent center they coveted in Ryan Groy, the free agents that the Rams were able to sign this past week will help to shore up holes on offense and defense. Linebacker Connor Barwin was signed to a one-year deal which maxes out at $6.5 million. Signing the 30-year-old linebacker allows him to return to the position where he is the most comfortable. Darwin had to cover to defensive end after the Eagles went with a 4-3 defense last year, and had a tough time, having been ranked 100th out of 109 edge defenders by Pro Football Focus. His ability to rush the QB, with 76 disrupted dropbacks from 2011 to 2015, third-most in the NFL during that span, goes along with his skill at dropping back into coverage can make him a perfect fit for Wade Phillips’ new defense this season.

Sep 27, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) runs with the ball against Atlanta Falcons safety William Moore (25) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) runs with the ball against Atlanta Falcons safety William Moore (25) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Lance Dunbar, formerly of the Cowboys, is projected to be a change-of-pace tailback for the Rams this year, much like Chris Thompson was last season for coach Sean McVay during his tenure with the Redskins.¬†Dunbar — with 94 carries for 422 yards and 68 catches for 646 yards in 54 career games — isn’t coming in as a third-down running back, per se. He’s coming in as an added element to the offense. Dunbar is familiar with Rams running back coach Skip Peete, who was Dunbar’s first running backs coach in the NFL with Dallas. He is projected to be a better fit for the new offense to be installed this year than the departed Benny Cunningham, who was a traditional backup RB.