Will anyone else join Jared Cook as veteran free agents to sign with St. Louis?
As cap-strapped as the St. Louis Rams are, veteran free agents don’t figure to be a huge part of their team’s composition between now and Week 1. Despite having huge contracts like those of Sam Bradford, Chris Long, and the ghost of Jason Smith on the payroll, St. Louis still made a play for a couple of big-time offensive free agents: Jared Cook and Jake Long.
Now that summer is approaching and the NFL draft has addressed teams’ areas of need, unsigned veterans may be getting antsy—and with that nervousness comes a drop in asking price. Whether or not that situation was intentionally set up by team decision-makers is no longer relevant.
Guys are looking for jobs.
The veteran minimum is still more expensive than what a club would have to pay an undrafted rookie, which is why there should be no surprise if Les Snead doesn’t sign an older guy to play in St. Louis. Older players’ experience would contribute to an expectation of substantial playing time on a young roster like the Rams’.
For the first time in a long time, though, there aren’t a ton of positions which should have “Help Wanted” stamped on the depth chart.
If St. Louis is going to make someone’s phone ring this summer—be it as training camp competitors, regular-season impact performers or otherwise—they might call some of these guys.
Brandon Lloyd was targeted 117 times as a member of the St. Louis Rams in 2011. He only played 11 games with them—meaning he attracted 10.6 throws per game.
The 31-year-old wideout only has one 1,000-yard receiving season to his credit, but three 900-plus yard campaigns in the last three years. Another target wouldn’t hurt Sam Bradford, but St. Louis ultimately may not look Lloyd’s way, now that Stedman Bailey is in the fold.
Safety Quintin Mikell played well in the box for the St. Louis Rams in 2012. The 32-year-old totaled four forced fumbles and three sacks, but—for the first time in six years—he didn’t record an interception.
The youthful Rams drafted USC safety T.J. McDonald presumably to fill Mikell’s role as a thumper. If Mikell is open to a backup role (including potentially starting the first few games, if necessary), his return to St. Louis could be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
That didn’t last.
The St. Louis Rams had a trio of pass-rushers in Chris Long, Robert Quinn and William Hayes, who combined for 29 sacks in 2012. Ellis’ 12.5 career sacks don’t scream “elite pass-rusher,” but he could be a valuable substitute on the interior of the D-line behind Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford—if he doesn’t get signed by another squad, first.
Somehow, Eric Winston still doesn’t have a job.
Maybe the reason is that three of the first four 2013 NFL draft picks were spent on right tackles—but it’s June, and Winston doesn’t know where he’ll play football this season.
It’s apparent that he’s a commodity, so if the St. Louis Rams are going to make a play for him, they’ll have to do some financial maneuvering. If they think they can get similar mean energy from Winston, they could release or restructure the soon-to-be 32-year-old Harvey Dahl.
Dahl has no guaranteed money in his four-year, $16 million deal. Winston has started 96 consecutive regular-season contests since 2007.
If Winston is brought in to replace Dahl, he or Rodger Saffold could kick inside to guard and cover Dahl’s spot.
Jeff Fisher doesn’t have coaching ties to Terrell Owens, but you don’t have to know the 39-year-old wideout to admire his statistical accomplishments: 1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns in 219 games.
He’ll be in the Hall of Fame.
Owens may still want to play, but the St. Louis Rams might find him to be more valuable in a coaching or mentoring role.
They’ve got a guy named Brian Quick, who has a similar body type to the 6’3”, 224 Owens. Quick, a second-round pick out of Appalachian State, caught just 11 balls for 156 yards and two scores as a rookie.
It’d be interesting to see what Quick could do under Owens’ tutelage—if the veteran decides he’s ready to contribute to a football team in a different way.
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