St. Louis Rams Still Finding It Hard to Bring in Quality Free Agent Receivers

Justin GibsonCorrespondent IIIMarch 18, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Tarell Brown #25 of the San Francisco 49ers tackles Brandon Gibson #11 of the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on December 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams have entered the Jeff Fisher and Les Snead era at full force this offseason, making impact signings of cornerback Cortland Finnegan, center Scott Wells and defensive lineman Kendall Langford.

While the moves should definitely start moving the franchise in the right direction, and fill holes plagued by mediocore play in the past, the Rams have still been unable to solve the riddle that is the wide receiver position.

The Rams were believed to be in heavy negotiations with free agent Mario Manningham before he signed with the San Francisco 49ers last night. It was also reported that St. Louis had interest in Pierre Garcon before he signed with the Washington Redskins and also chased Robert Meachem before he went west to the San Diego Chargers. Steve Smith worked out for the team late in the week, but he left without a contract.

Brandon Lloyd, who was the Rams leading receiver in 2011, signed with the New England Patriots yesterday. The Rams traded a fifth-round pick for Lloyd in October. In 11 games with the team he would go on to catch 51 passes for 683 yards and five touchdowns.

The departure of Lloyd leaves the Rams with receivers Brandon Gibson, Danario Alexander, Greg Salas, Austin Pettis and Dominique Curry for the time being. Rams slot-receiver Danny Amendola is a restricted free-agent

Whether it be message boards, sports talk radio or a discussion at a bar by buddies, the Rams failing to address the wide receiver position with an impact signing has long drawn the ire of fans.

The Rams' offense has been booed by home fans at the Edward Jones Dome regularly in past seasons after dismal attempts to consistently move the ball downfield.

Last season, the Rams were ranked 30th in the NFL in total passing yards and passing yards per game. During the Rams miserable 15-65 run since 2007, the team has thrown the fewest number of touchdown passes with 69.

The issue goes back to the glory days of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Since then, the Rams only significant free agent signing at wide receiver was Drew Bennett for a six-year, $30 million contract in 2007. Bennett would be cut in 2009 after injuries and poor performances.


The Rams are going to be forced into making the receiver position a priority in this year's NFL Draft. The top players at this position include Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, Stephen Hill and Alshon Jeffery. Outside of Blackmon, many pundits say none of the other wideouts are viewed as true No. 1 receivers, but solid No. 2's.

Justin Blackmon may fall to the Rams at the sixth pick, but could he or any of the wideouts who may be available early in the second round make an A.J. Green impact their rookie season? Long-term improvement must be the key goal in rebuilding the franchise, yet it could be another season wasted for quarterback Sam Bradford, who the Rams handed the largest contract ever for an NFL rookie of $78 million.

In an interview with 101ESPN's Bernie Miklasz last week, Fisher did not rule out making a trade for a veteran receiver. It would be speculative who could possibly be a target, however the Pittsburgh Steelers placed a first-round tender on Mike Wallace that would require an interested team to forfeit a first-round draft pick if the Steelers don't match another offer.

Unrestricted free agent receivers still available include Early Doucet, Jerricho Cotchery, Jerome Simpson, Legedu Naanee, Deion Branch, Plaxico Burress, Ted Ginn Jr. and Roy Williams.

Fisher has made it known that the Rams need receivers and the team will go out and get playmakers for Bradford.

The team appears to have made positive impact signings thus far in free agency. Yet, fans will have to sit back and wait to see if some holes that have been glaring for years will be filled.