Canadian DL Michael Hoecht to pursue NFL free agency: sources

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

Canadian defensive lineman Michael Hoecht will pursue NFL free agency, per sources, after the Los Angeles Rams elected not to tender him as a restricted free agent.

The club could have retained the native of Oakville, Ont. with a one-year qualifying offer worth a minimum of $2.95 million as he’s accrued three years of service in the NFL. By opting not to do so, the Rams can still try to re-sign him but will no longer have the chance to match competing offers.

Several NFL teams are expected to show interest in the six-foot-four, 300-pound defender who has shown he’s capable of playing along the defensive line or at outside linebacker. He started 17 regular season games for the Rams in 2023, recording 81 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, six sacks, two pass knockdowns, and one forced fumble.

The 26-year-old first joined Los Angeles as an undrafted free agent in 2020 and spent his entire rookie season on the practice roster. He has dressed for 51 regular season games over the past three campaigns, making 26 starts and recording 124 combined tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, two pass knockdowns, and two forced fumbles. He has earned approximately $2.58 million over his NFL career and won one Super Bowl.

Hoecht moved to Dayton, Ohio as a young child but returned to Canada with his family during his teenage years, playing high school football in Ottawa in grade nine and Toronto in grade ten. His exclusive CFL rights belong to the Ottawa Redblacks, though it appears unlikely that he’ll ever play a snap north of the border.

The NFL’s legal tampering period is set to open on Monday, March 11 at noon EDT. Hoecht will officially become a free agent on Wednesday, March 14 at 4:00 p.m. EDT.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.