The St. Louis Rams added two veteran players on Wednesday, signing linebacker Mario Haggan and offensive tackle Barry Richardson. Today, I want to talk about what these two players bring to the table for the Rams in 2012.
Haggan is a nine-year NFL veteran, and he should challenge for the Rams' starting strongside linebacker spot. Rams GM Les Snead said of Haggan, "He's definitely a good run defender. Was special teams captain in Denver."
Haggan has played mostly special teams, but he did start all 32 games for the Broncos during 2009 and 2010. He lost his starting job when the Broncos drafted standout Von Miller.
Haggan will be the biggest linebacker on the Rams roster (6'3'', 274). My prediction for Haggan is that he will make the roster. Best case scenario, he wins the starting SOLB spot. Worst case scenario, he is a special-teams ace for the Rams.
Signing Richardson is a brilliant move, in my opinion. The Rams have two very talented young players in left tackle Rodger Saffold (third-year player, No. 33 overall pick in 2010 NFL draft) and right tackle Jason Smith (fourth-year player, No. 2 overall pick in 2009 NFL draft). However, both players, in their own way, have been a disappointment so far.
Saffold had a terrific rookie season, but then missed several games in 2011 after suffering a torn pectoral muscle while lifting weights. Smith, who has been a major disappointment so far, missed most of last year with a concussion.
Richardson is only 26 years old, and he has two years of starting experience. While he is considered by some to be a weak starting tackle, considering the Rams' injury history at the position, Richardson gives them some quality depth.
It also puts Jason Smith on notice: If you don't get the job done, we've got somebody else.
Rams GM Les Snead didn't beat around the bush when he said, "He's a young guy in his mid-20s, started 32 games, so there's definitely value there. He'll definitely be in the mix (at tackle)."
Then again, maybe offensive line coach Paul Boudreau can "coach him up."
I think signing both players is a solid move by the Rams. These kind of moves that add depth to the roster are often the difference in a couple of wins per season in the NFL because every team is going to suffer injuries through the course of a season.
I think the Rams will be very active again when other teams start making cuts at training camp. As of this moment, however, I do expect both Richardson and Haggan to make the final 53-man roster.