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Titus Young: St. Louis Rams' Signing of WR a Low-Risk, High-Reward Proposition

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20:  Titus Young #16 of the Detroit Lions celebrate a second quarter touchdown while playing the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on November 20, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Jamal CollierAnalyst IIIFebruary 5, 2013

The Rams claimed WR Titus Young, who was waived by the Lions on Monday.

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 5, 2013

Young is not his former counterpart, Calvin Johnson, though he seems to think he’s better. Even if it borders on delusion—Johnson had 3,645 receiving yards over his last two seasons, including a record 1,964 in 2012—it can safely be said that Young’s confidence is unsurpassed.

The Rams receiving corps could use a little of that. There’s a limit to how much ego can benefit the team, however, which is why it’s important to note that Young’s roster spot is far from guaranteed: St. Louis did not have to invest much to get him.

Per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions “already have paid Young all the guaranteed money on his rookie contract,” suggesting St. Louis has minimal financial obligations to the former second-round pick. If he decides to get into another offseason intra-squad melee, the Rams should have an easier time cutting him than did a team that made him the 44th-overall draft pick in 2011.

St. Louis’ locker room is one of the NFL’s youngest. That could spell trouble if Young’s attitude proves problematic with the Rams, but a few safeguards are in place. Veteran head coach Jeff Fisher should be up to the task of keeping Young on the straight-and-narrow under the watching eyes of the rest of the league.

If the WR-deprived—and middle-of-the-waiver-order—Rams can’t put up with Young’s disposition in order to utilize his talent, it will be difficult to imagine him catching on elsewhere.

Never needed the money Give me a dollar and a ball bet I come back #HallofFame

— Titus D Young Sr (@TitusDYoungSr) January 25, 2013

Young may benefit from the presence of his four-year collegiate teammate Austin Pettis in the wide receiver position group, and Cortland Finnegan is a more notorious scrapper than is Louis Delmas. Losing a fight and getting walking papers would be the understated definition of a bad day in the NFL.

St. Louis is undoubtedly hoping that Young’s subsequent seasons of service trump his first two years in the league: The soon-to-be third-year wide receiver has yet to gain 1,000 yards in his career. In 26 games with the Lions, Young caught 81 passes for 990 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Thirty-three of those catches went for 383 yards and four TDs in 2012 (10 games).

His reception total was modest, but he was only targeted 56 times: a surprisingly low total, given that Megatron is consistently double and triple-teamed by Detroit opponents. Johnson saw 204 passes thrown in his direction.

Four players—Danny Amendola (101), Brandon Gibson (82), Chris Givens (80) and Lance Kendricks (64)—got more looks in the Rams offense than Young did in Detroit last season. Amendola and Gibson are unrestricted free agents. There should be passes available for Young’s consumption if he can make it through the summer on the Rams roster.

The relationship between St. Louis and Young has the upside to be mutually beneficial. Bringing a talented former second-round pick on board gives the Rams leverage with its free-agent receivers and allows them to prioritize other positions in the 2013 NFL draft.

Free agency should still bring a No. 1-type receiving threat to St. Louis, but Young has enough talent to make a positive impact for Sam Bradford’s offense.

 

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