The 5 Moves the St. Louis Rams Must Avoid in Free Agency
Scouts and coaches are currently being consumed by the NFL Scouting Combine, but there's one upcoming hurdle teams must overcome before focusing solely on the draft—free agency.
Whereas the draft is still two months away, the St. Louis Rams have just over two weeks to solidify their strategy for free agency.
The open market will allow the Rams to fortify their depth and possibly add some key starters, and the outcome of their shopping spree will directly influence their selections on draft day.
But with just $10 million in spending money (an guesstimate that Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch makes) and two major assets needing to be re-signed (Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola), it will take careful and meticulous planning if they wish to make a splash in free agency.
With few financial resources at their disposal, the Rams will most likely avoid flashy names and high price tags. On the contrary, they'll focus on reasonably priced young players who are just entering their prime.
With that in mind, here are five moves the Rams must certainly avoid.
Don't Overpay for a Safety
Quintin Mikell will be cut and Craig Dahl is a free agent, which means the Rams are at risk of losing both of their starting safeties.
This predicament might force some desperate behavior from the Rams front office, but hopefully that desperation results in a safety acquisition through the draft rather than free agency.
If the Rams can ink William Moore to a valuable deal that locks him up for five years without overpaying, they should jump all over the opportunity.
But considering safeties get beat up easily over a long NFL career, it might be better to fill the void with a rookie instead of a seasoned veteran.
The 2013 draft class is loaded with intriguing safety talent, which only gives the Rams more leverage in turning down the demands of a free-agent safety.
Avoid Dustin Keller
For a team that's desperate for offensive weapons, tight end Dustin Keller appears to be a great fit on the surface.
He would provide Sam Bradford with a productive short-yardage target, and his familiarity with Brian Schottenheimer's offense makes him a sensible option.
But Keller is coming off an abysmal 317-yard performance in 2012 and has never been a true game-changing talent.
Additionally, he's basically a more seasoned version of Lance Kendricks, who the Rams are still trying to develop.
Kendricks and Keller are the exact same size and they both offer solid—but not spectacular—production in the aerial game.
Keller was a bit more productive than Kendricks in his first two seasons, but they're numbers were fairly similar.
Keller finished with 1,077 yards and five touchdowns in his first two seasons, while Kendricks has 871 yards and four touchdowns after two seasons.
Keller's skill set doesn't offer the offense anything drastically different from Kendricks, and based on Kendricks' first two seasons, it's not too outlandish to call him a younger version of Keller.
If the Rams need to up their production from the tight end position, they should zero in on Zach Ertz or Tyler Eifert in the draft.
Don't Let Them All Walk
The Rams have two key players—Danny Amendola and Steven Jackson—possibly hitting the open market, and the worst thing a young, up-and-coming team could do is let both players leave.
The Rams offense was horrid enough in 2012, so the last thing management should do is let their two best offensive weapons walk out the door.
And it's not even their production alone that will hurt, but also their role as leaders in the locker room.
If the Rams need to let one of the two go because the money just isn't right, then that's understandable. But what this team cannot do, under any circumstance, is let both players leave.
If the Rams kickoff the 2013 season without Jackson and Amendola on the sidelines, it will be a disaster.
The Rams have enough holes to fill this offseason. Creating two more holes due to an unwillingness to pay is not an ideal scenario.
Is Dwayne Bowe a Smart Move?
When thinking back and visualizing the 2012 Rams, it's hard to deny that Dwayne Bowe is exactly what the team needs.
He's a giant receiver who would provide Bradford with a dominate weapon on the outside. And given his 15-touchdown performance in 2010, he's capable of being a force in the red zone as long as there's a capable quarterback under center.
So, if Bowe fits the description of what the Rams desperately need, why shouldn't they pull the trigger?
For starters, Bowe has failed to produce like an elite NFL receiver, even though he has the talent to do so. This raises red flags on his overall effort and team dedication.
Other than his attitude, there's also the price tag.
Also, the signing would mean that the Rams have officially given up on Brian Quick, who is just entering his second year after being selected No. 33 overall in 2012.
Quick and Bowe have similar skill sets, and it's doubtful the Rams are willing to give up on Quick so easily, regardless of how disappointing he was in 2012.
If the Rams can clear some space financially and feel that Bowe will give his best effort in St. Louis, then they shouldn't hesitate to make this acquisition.
If not, Rams fans will have to pray that Quick pans out and suck it up for another season before the Rams finally sign a true No. 1 receiver.
Just Say No to Mike Wallace
The anemic St. Louis offense weighed down the team for the majority of 2012 and appears to be the only thing standing in the way of a 2013 postseason appearance for the Rams.
As a result, you might be fooled into thinking that the Rams are willing to up their point production by any means necessary. But given their questionable financial situation, that's not the case.
Jeff Fisher and Les Snead will get creative and attempt to add offensive playmakers this offseason, but they won't throw large sums of money at flashy names, and that includes Mike Wallace.
There are a number of productive receivers on the market who are demanding sizable contracts, but Wallace would be a horrible fit in St. Louis.
For starters, Wallace is delusional enough to believe he's worth Larry Fitzgerald money ($14.5 million per year), which means he'll be searching for the fattest contract rather than the best fit.
Additionally, Wallace wouldn't necessarily add anything new to the St. Louis offense.
The Rams grabbed Chris Givens in the fourth round last season, and he has been a steal thus far with 698 yards and three touchdowns in 2012, including 10 receptions of 20 or more yards.
Givens is a burner and his skill set is nearly identical to Wallace's for a fraction of the price.
The Rams need a tall, strong receiver to play on the outside and provide a threat in the red zone. Wallace does not offer any of these traits.
Wallace's price tag is far too steep for someone who will offer nothing new to the offense.