New Rams tight end Jared Cook makes an acrobatic catch for the Tennessee Titans.
General manager Les Snead didn’t add a ton of payroll to his young St. Louis Rams roster in the early stages of free agency. Things have been pretty quiet with regard to the volume of moves that St. Louis has made, but the potential impact these moves could have on the St. Louis offense is enormous.
The Rams parted ways with their team leaders in rushing attempts and receptions by allowing Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola to suit up with the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, respectively.
Snead signed someone with the potential to be both the primary target for Sam Bradford and the overall focus for the offense. He also got Bradford a blindside protector, cut ties with one of the team’s veterans and re-signed a couple of depth guys along the defensive line.
Jared Cook may very well be the offensive focal point of the 2013 St. Louis Rams. Until they add more outside weapons, it’s a very safe assumption that Cook will be the primary target of quarterback Sam Bradford.
Bradford has a history of choosing—and almost force-feeding—a go-to guy. Danny Amendola attracted 101 targets in just 11 games last season.
Brandon Lloyd played 11 games with the Rams in 2011. He got 117 looks.
Mark Clayton appeared in only five games for St. Louis in 2010, but he was targeted 42 times.
All of those guys are wide receivers, but Bradford hasn’t had as a weapon a tight end like the 6’5” Cook. Lance Kendricks had the most receptions of any tight end to play with Bradford, when he caught 42 balls for 519 yards and four touchdowns last year.
Cook, 25, is getting paid more handsomely than the 27-year-old Amendola, the guy whose production Cook is being asked to replace. He has a better history of staying on the field, though: Cook has played in 59 of a possible 64 regular-season games. Amendola has played in 42 in the same span.
Jermelle Cudjo was a nice re-signing for the Rams’ defensive line, providing depth behind two 2012 acquisitions: first-round pick Michael Brockers and free-agent Kendall Langford. The 26-year-old is locked up for two years at $1.8 million.
Players are getting less money this offseason than they did in the spending spree that took place last year, but William Hayes was a steal for St. Louis in terms of dollars per sack.
By re-signing Hayes, St. Louis dropped $10.25 million over three years for a guy who notched seven sacks in his first season with the Rams. That’s $488,095.24 per year, per sack in the contract campaign immediately preceding the negotiations.
For comparison’s sake, Mario Williams (six years, $96 million; 5.0 sacks in 2011) got $3.2 million per season, per sack from his contract year. He only played five games in 2011, but that number would fall to $1 million—still more than double Hayes’ rate—if his sack production was extrapolated to 16 over 16 appearances.
Assuming the Kansas City Chiefs retain possession of their first selection in the upcoming draft, Missouri will be home to the only two NFL teams with two former No. 1 overall picks on their roster. The St. Louis Rams’ signing of former Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long was impressive, even in this market.
St. Louis locked Long up for four years with $34 million ($16 million guaranteed), about $10 million less than the 27-year-old was seeking. It’s also about $12 million more than 2013’s No. 1 overall pick would expect (based on the rookie wage scale and Andrew Luck’s contract).
In order to make cap room for Jared Cook and Jake Long, the St. Louis Rams had to cut ties with safety Quintin Mikell.
It was no shock that Mikell was cut, with the draft said to be deep at the position and a free-agent market flooded with veteran defensive backs.
Mikell would’ve counted $9 million against the Rams cap, which would have tied for fourth-highest among all safeties. He forced four fumbles and added three sacks last season, but didn’t pick off a single pass for the first time since 2006.
Releasing the veteran saved St. Louis $3 million in cap space, just under double what last year’s No. 16 draft pick counted against the cap in 2012. Defensive end Quinton Coples was a $1.6-million hit for the New York Jets.
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