The St. Louis Rams will undergo a considerable amount of work during free agency. Not only will they examine which players are solid contributors, but with a new coaching staff they must also figure out which players fit into the new schemes on offense and defense.
Former head coach Steve Spagnuolo signed many of the low-end players due to his familiarity with them. However, Fisher does not have the same level of comfort with a number of these players.
As a result, we'll see many backups and under-performing starters get the ax. Fisher will bring in his own players to fill out the roster.
Although, we'll likely see them retain the majority of key starters and up-and-comers.
So here is the predicted outcome of every free agent, along with other roster predictions (contract restructures):
DE C.J. Ah You (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
C.J. Ah You is a rotational player at best who has accumulated very little playing time during his three years in St. Louis. Fisher will has no desire to finish projects started by Spagnuolo. There's a chance that the Rams will pass on Ah You and he'll then follow Spagnuolo to New Orleans.
WR Danny Amendola (Re-Signed: Three Years, $6.1 Million)
Danny Amendola led the league in all-purpose yards in 2010 (2,364) and is a reliable first-down option coming out of the slot. There was a night and day difference with him out of the lineup in 2011. As a result, the Rams will give him some recognition and pay him slightly more than what they could get away with.
2012 Cap Hit: $2.3 Million
FB Brit Miller (Re-Signed: One Year, $625,000)
Brit Miller is apparently enthusiastic about the hiring of Fisher. Fortunately for Miller, the feeling may be mutual considering Fisher is known to put an emphasis on the run game. At the very least, Miller will get a fair shot in training camp.
2012 Cap Hit: $625,000
TE Billy Bajema (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Unfortunately for Billy Bajema, there's nothing alluring about a tight end that provides no threat in the passing game and struggles to pick up blocks.
OG Jacob Bell (Re-Signed: One Year, $825,000)
Jacob Bell has under-performed from the very second he put on a Rams jersey. But luckily for Bell, the Rams can't cut loose all of their linemen in one year. Also, it doesn't hurt that he played four years of solid football under Fisher in Tennessee.
2012 Cap Hit: $825,000
S James Butler (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
James Butler was a starting safety for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in 2007, but he was unable to make an impact in St. Louis. Butler was signed due to his comfort in Spagnuolo's defense, but now that Spagnuolo is gone there's no reason to retain him. Also, the Rams already have two starting-caliber safeties on the roster (Quintin Mikell, Darian Stewart).
LB Chris Chamberlain (Re-Signed: Two Years, $1.4 Million)
The Rams will turn to the draft and free agency in an attempt to find a pair of starting outside linebackers. Yet even though Chris Chamberlain will never be a full-time starter on defense, he's a capable special teams player. He led the Rams in special teams tackles in both 2008 and 2009, so the Rams will attempt to bring him back with a two-year deal.
2012 Cap Hit: $850,000
WR Mark Clayton (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Mark Clayton had 300 yards and two touchdown in only five games to start the 2010 season, but his year was cut short after a season-ending knee injury. He attempted a comeback in 2011, but he still was not fully recovered and appeared in only two games. The Rams are looking for reliability at the receiver position, which means Clayton will not get another shot in 2012.
QB Kellen Clemens (Re-Signed: Three Years, $3.8 Million)
Kellen Clemens has five years of experience in Brian Schottenheimer's offense from his time in New York. Now that Schottenheimer in the Rams' new offensive coordinator, it seems like the perfect match. The Rams will likely offer Clemens a multi-year deal that will make him the team's long-term backup behind Sam Bradford.
2012 Cap Hit: $1.4 Million
S Craig Dahl (Voidable Year, Rams Will Turn Down His Final Year)
Craig Dahl is due $1.2 million in 2012 if the Rams opt to keep him. The price is far too steep for a third-string safety, which means the Rams will void his contract. Dahl will hit free agency this spring.
QB A.J. Feeley (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
A.J. Feeley is 34 years old and is a less attractive backup than the younger Clemens (28 years old). Feeley was signed in 2010 due to his familiarity with Pat Shurmur's West-Coast Offense, but he no longer adds that value now that the Rams are transitioning into Schottenheimer's system. Feeley is no longer a viable option as Bradford's backup.
DT Gary Gibson (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
The Rams already have Justin Bannan and Fred Robbins under contract, and they'll be looking to add additional talent at defensive tackle through the draft and free agency. This leaves little room for Gibson, who is a rotational player at best.
OL Adam Goldberg (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Adam Goldberg provides some value as a backup due to his ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line. However, the ability to play multiple positions doesn't help if he can't play at an acceptable level. Goldberg frequently struggles when thrown into action, so the Rams will look for a younger option.
CB Rod Hood (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Rod Hood was signed mid-season as a drastic measure after the Rams were bombarded with injuries at cornerback. Hood saw very little playing time and has yet to fully recover from a knee injury he obtained before the start of the 2010 season. It's worth noting that Hood played six games under Fisher in 2009 with the Titans, but that will not be enough to earn him another shot in 2012.
P Donnie Jones (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
The Rams are looking to save money in 2012, which does not happen by paying a punter nearly a million a year. Donnie Jones averaged an impressive 50.0 yards per punt in 2008, but that averaged regressed to just 44.3 last season. Look for the Rams to sign a young punter for half the price.
LB Bryan Kehl (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Byan Kehl is yet another player who was only signed due to his knowledge of Spagnuolo's system. Kehl played the entire 2008 and 2009 seasons with the New York Giants before being acquired by St. Louis midway though the 2010 season. Look for Fisher to dump Kehl and sign a linebacker familiar with his own system.
CB Justin King (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
The Rams could do much worse than Justin King for their No. 4 or No. 5 cornerback, but with Bradley Fletcher, Ron Bartell and Jerome Murphy all returning from injury in 2012, King has just a slim chance at making the roster.
OT Mark LeVoir (Re-Signed: One Year, $890,000)
The Rams will surely build depth with younger talent, but they'll likely keep one veteran tackle as an insurance policy. LeVoir is a better option than Goldberg and his seven years of experience will allow him to step in immediately if there's an injury.
2012 Cap Hit: $890,000
WR Brandon Lloyd
Update: Adam Schefter of ESPN reports via his Twitter that the Patriots have reached an agreement with now former Rams WR Brandon Lloyd.
RB Jerious Norwood (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Jerious Norwood was a disappointment in 2011 after appearing in only nine games and carrying the ball just 24 times all season. It's clear that injuries are still a concern for Norwood, who has appeared in all 16 games just once in his six-year career.
LB Brady Poppinga (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
The Rams will likely be looking to upgrade their starting outside linebackers, meaning Brady Poppinga will only have a shot as a backup. However, rather than keeping him as a backup, the Rams will look for younger and faster players for a fraction of the price.
TE Stephen Spach (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Spagnuolo was familiar with Stephen Spach from their time together with the Eagles in 2005, which is likely the only reason he was signed by the Rams in 2011. Fisher has no attachment to Spach and will look elsewhere for help at tight end.
RB Cadillac Williams (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Cadillac Williams will look for the best offer available, but it's not going to come from the Rams. Cadillac was inconsistent in 2011 and provided an unreliable safety net behind Jackson. The Rams will find a younger and equally productive option for half the price.
C Tony Wragge (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
After much consideration, the Rams will likely decide to keep center Jason Brown. Brown still has a shot at reviving his career, regardless of his uninspiring 2011 season. If the Rams do in fact keep Brown, then they'll surely drop Wragge. A veteran like Wragge will command more money than the Rams are willing to commit to the position.
DT Jermelle Cudjo (Will Not Be Re-Signed)
Fisher puts an emphasis on solid defensive line play, which is why he'll hand pick his own players (even the backups). Jermelle Cudjo can be had for cheap due to his status as an exclusive right free agent, but Fisher will likely consider other options.
WR Dominique Curry (Re-Signed: Three Years, $1.6 Million)
Dominique Curry was an undrafted free agent in 2010, but he has quickly established himself as a capable special teams player. The Rams will likely bring him back near at league minimum.
2012 Cap Hit: $560,000
S Darian Stewart (Re-Signed: Three Years, $1.6 Million)
Darian Stewart in an exclusive rights free agent, which means the Rams will bring him back for nearly nothing. Stewart was undrafted in 2010, but he started 13 games for the Rams in 2011. Despite being an overlooked prospect, Stewart has already established himself as one of the better players on defense. The Rams will certainly retain him in 2011.
2012 Cap Hit: $560,000
Total Cost of Re-Signing In-House Free Agents: $15,510,000
Other Roster Moves:
OT Jason Smith (Restructured Contract)
Jason Smith was the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2009 and signed a six-year deal worth $61.775 million. Smith has greatly under-performed and has been crippled with injuries, so there's not a chance that the Rams will pay him the $10 million that he's due in 2012.
2012 Cap Hit: $2.1 Million
2012 Cap Savings: $7.9 Million