The St. Louis Rams (3-4) are a game below .500 and are currently stuck in the toughest stretch of their schedule.
The optimism was soaring as the Rams earned a winning record five weeks into the season, but a sobering three-game losing streak has injected the fanbase with a dose of reality.
The Rams—who have already exceeded their two-game win total of 2011—are undoubtedly an improved squad, but there's still plenty of work to be done.
Most of the rebuilding will be done through the NFL draft, but free agency is also a vital part of the process.
Last spring, the Rams added CB Cortland Finnegan and LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar in free agency, and both signings have paid off.
Following the season, the Rams will once again look to beef up their roster with several additions in free agency.
Here are several alluring options from the upcoming free-agent class.
WR Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Rookie Chris Givens has been a tremendous deep-ball threat, which diminishes the need for a free-agent speedster, such as Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace.
Additionally, Danny Amendola ranks among the league's elite slot receivers, which rules out the need for someone like Wes Welker.
What the team needs at this point is a legitimate No. 1 receiver—a big guy to run routes on the outside and provide muscle in the red zone.
The Rams used the No. 33 overall draft pick on WR Brian Quick last spring, and he was expected to be that guy, but his progress has been slow and uninspiring.
Quick may improve as time goes on, but Sam Bradford needs his No. 1 threat immediately, not in three years.
Dwayne Bowe fits the bill.
His effort and dedication have come under scrutiny at times, but he has remained productive regardless, even with substandard quarterback play.
The 28-year-old caught an NFL-high 15 touchdowns in 2010 and has averaged 72 catches and 985 yards per season since entering the league in 2007.
With a competent quarterback throwing him the ball, the possibilities are endless.
Predicted Contract: Five years, $55 Million (Vincent Jackson, 2012) seems reasonable and likely. The total amount could be closer to $60 million.
WR Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
Finding shiny new toys is the fun part of free agency, but it's also important to retain the players already on the team.
Danny Amendola has been the Rams' most productive receiver for several years now and is Sam Bradford's favorite target.
Amendola has been banged up in recent years, so it's difficult to determine how valuable he is to the front office.
If GM Les Snead values him as much as Bradford does, then the front office needs to lock him down to a multi-year deal.
If they feel another receiver can duplicate Amendola's production, then it might not be worth a multimillion-dollar contract.
Predicted Contract: Danny Amendola's new contract should land him somewhere between Mario Manningham (two years, $7.8 million) and Brandon Lloyd (three years, $12 million). If someone is willing to overpay beyond $4 million a year, the Rams will likely back out.
G Andy Levitre, Buffalo Bills
The left-guard spot has been a major question mark since the offseason, and the Rams have done little to address it.
When C Scott Wells returns from his foot injury, Robert Turner will bump over to left guard, and the interior line will look much better.
But even so, Wells' injury made it painfully clear that depth is thin on the offensive line.
If the Rams can bring in a starting left guard, the team will have the luxury of using Turner as a quality backup capable of stepping up and playing any interior position in the event of an injury.
Andy Levitre has been a hidden gem in Buffalo and would immediately upgrade the offensive line.
Not only that, but he has the ability to play tackle, so his presence would improve the depth all across the line.
For example, if the right tackle goes down, Levitre would move from left guard to right tackle. Meanwhile, Turner would take over at left guard, and the team would still have five quality starters on the field despite the injury.
Combine that with Rokevious Watkins, Wayne Hunter and possibly a blue-chip tackle from the 2013 draft, and a move like this could finally make the line injury-proof.
Predicted Contract: The 26-year-old Levitre is a rising commodity. We won't see anything close to a Carl Nicks contract, but he'll end up with something similar to Evan Mathis (five years, $25 Million) or Ben Grubbs (five years, $36 Million).
TE Dustin Keller, New York Jets
Since being drafted in 2011, second-round pick Lance Kendricks has been a disappointment for the Rams.
Kendricks was an addition made by the old regime, which makes him expendable.
Meanwhile, 28-year-old Dustin Keller has been highly productive throughout his career and will have a chance to reach free agency this offseason.
With Keller's former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer running the St. Louis offense, this move makes a lot of sense.
With both Keller and Danny Amendola at Sam Bradford's disposal on third down, the offense will be much better at maintaining drives.
Predicted Contract: Keller is a very capable tight end, but he's not a dominate game-changer. His contract will be somewhere in the ballpark of Heath Miller (six years, $35.3 Million) and Zach Miller (five years, $34 Million).
S Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers
Craig Dahl will be a free agent this offseason, and while Quintin Mikell has been solid, he has not totally played up to his potential.
Safety is the team's most dire need on defense this offseason, so don't be surprised if they fork out a hefty contract for one of the top safeties of the 2013 class.
The San Francisco 49ers are absolutely loaded with talent, and since it's impossible to sign everyone to a major contract, they're bound to let someone walk at some point.
If that person happens to be Dashon Goldson, then the Rams need to consider picking him up.
With Goldson and Mikell playing side-by-side, along with their strong group of corners, the Rams would instantly have the best secondary in the division—maybe in the entire NFC.
Predicted Contract: Expect Goldson to receive an amount somewhere between Quintin Mikell (four years, $27 Million) and Eric Weddle (five years, $40 Million).
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