Setting Odds for St. Louis Rams Signing Their Top 8 Free-Agent Targets

Steven GerwelContributor IIIFebruary 10, 2014

Setting Odds for St. Louis Rams Signing Their Top 8 Free-Agent Targets

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Rams will analyze every option in free agencywhether it's an in-house free agent or one from another teamand decide where the money is best spent this offseason.

    There's certainly not a surplus of money for a spending spree, which will limit their efforts. My latest estimate predicts that less than $5 million in spending money will be available if tackle Rodger Saffold is re-signed. If he isn't, the Rams will have over $10 million to work with.

    Those numbers will prevent St. Louis from making a major splash this offseason, but it's possible that the Rams will be able to make a modest addition or two.

    This article will list all the high-end free agents I consider to be realistic options for the Rams, as well as an assessment of the likelihood that each player is signed.

    The list and odds are based on whether the free agent plays a position of need, what kind of connections the player has with the team and their anticipated price tag.

     

    All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac.com.

Kellen Clemens, QB, St. Louis Rams

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Projected Cost: $855,000 per year

    Odds of Rams Signing Him: 1-9 (90 percent)

    Kellen Clemens stepped in for the injured Sam Bradford last season and finished with an impressive 4-5 record.

    Clemens is not capable of carrying the team into the playoffs, but he can pull out several tight wins if Bradford goes down for a game or two.

    Even if the Rams draft a rookie quarterback to compete for the No. 2 job, it's almost a guarantee that Clemens will be in training camp with the Rams this summer.

    It's possible that other teams noticed his 2013 success and want Clemens as a No. 2, but no way does he willingly abandon Brian Schottenheimer's offense—he has played under Schottenheimer for most of his career. 

Jo-Lonn Dunbar, LB, St. Louis Rams

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Projected Cost: $800,000 per year

    Odds of Rams Signing Him: 2-3 (60 percent)

    Jo-Lonn Dunbar was surprisingly St. Louis' most productive addition in free agency during the 2012 season, but his play sharply declined last season.

    Dunbar was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for a PED violation and was not the same player when he returned to the lineup.

    Having said that, the Rams just signed Gregg Williams as their new defensive coordinator. Since Williams and Dunbar have a history together from their days in New Orleans, there's a good chance Williams will lobby in Dunbar's favor.

Rodger Saffold, T, St. Louis Rams

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Projected Cost: $6 million per year

    Odds of Rams Signing Him: 1-1 (50 percent)

    Rams fans want to see even higher odds associated with Saffold's name, but honestly that's just wishful thinking.

    At this time last year, it seemed unfathomable that St. Louis would allow either Danny Amendola or Steven Jackson to leave in free agency. Amendola was Bradford's favorite receiver and Jackson was the heart of the offense. Ultimately, both players signed with new teams.

    Ask yourself this: Is Saffold more valuable to the offense than Amendola or Jackson?

    Of course not. Amendola and Jackson were the two most productive players on offense at the time, and it turns out both players were very replaceable.

    Is Saffold just as replaceable? That's the question Les Snead and Jeff Fisher are currently mulling over.

    If Saffold is signed to a major contract, it will be because the Rams cannot envision a successful future without him. If they let him walk, then rest assured that there's a backup plan in motion.

Tyson Clabo, T, Miami Dolphins

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Projected Cost: $1.2 million per year

    Odds of Rams Signing Him: 7-3 (30 percent)

    If the Rams fail to re-sign Saffold, the team will need another No. 3 tackle on the roster just in case Jake Long is not healthy in time for Week 1.

    It's possible that the Rams will use a lofty draft pick on an eventual permanent replacement for Long—such as Auburn's Greg Robinson—but another option that involves less commitment would be to sign a mid-level veteran with starting experience.

    Tyson Clabo played under Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau during his time with the Atlanta Falcons. Also, Snead is a former member of Atlanta's front office, so he's very familiar with Clabo as well.

    Clabo is 32 years old and on the decline, but he could be a perfect solution for St. Louis as a No. 3 tackle. After all, the Rams were able to turn Wayne Hunter into a viable starter in 2012, so anything is possible.

TJ Ward, S, Cleveland Browns

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Projected Cost: $7.5 million per year

    Odds of Rams Signing Him: 3-1 (25 percent)

    TJ Ward is a hard-hitting safety who certainly fits into St. Louis' tough defensive philosophy, but he also possesses the coverage skills that the defense is desperately lacking up top.

    Ward has been one of the NFL's best-kept secrets throughout his four-year tenure in Cleveland, but soon enough he'll begin to gain recognition as one of the better safeties in the league.

    If the Rams can sign Ward to a contract that compensates him handsomely without grossly overpaying, he'll be a great addition to the defense.

    If Ward can be had for a hair under Eric Weddle's average salary of $8 million per year, it would be considered a steal. Anything beyond that is overpaying.

Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Projected Cost: $8 million per year

    Odds of Rams Signing Him: 4-1 (20 percent)

    Jairus Byrd is a more expensive option at safety, but has more experience than Ward and is a much better ball hawk. 

    Paired with TJ McDonald, Byrd would instantly turn St. Louis' secondary into a unit worthy of playing the tough NFC West. 

    Byrd will likely cost around Weddle's $8 million per year, but he could possibly exceed that number and earn closer to $9 million per year on average. If that's the case, the Rams will likely pass. 

     

     

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Projected Cost: $850,000 per year

    Odds of Rams Signing Him: 17-3 (15 percent)

    As a player, Kenny Britt is exactly what Rams fans have been asking for over the last several years—a physical outside receiver capable of being a No. 1 target for Bradford. 

    Britt has the body of an elite receiver, but injuries and off-the-field issues have hindered his NFL career in a significant way. 

    Britt played his best football under Fisher and this regime has already made it clear that it's willing to gamble on red-flag characters (Janoris Jenkins, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, etc.). 

    Considering the bad press associated with Britt, he can likely be had on a one-year deal for just over the six-year veteran minimum of $730,000. 

Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Projected Cost: $5 million per year

    Odds of Rams Signing Him: 9-1 (10 percent)

    Anquan Boldin is set to become a free agent and the wide receiver will have a hard time finding a team willing to match his last contract—a deal that earned him $8 million per year on average. 

    Boldin was very productive in 2013 with 1,179 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, but few teams are willing to bet on Boldin matching that production in the upcoming season—at least not with $8 million at stake. 

    If Boldin is willing to play for a more reasonable price of $4-5 million per year, suddenly he'll become an attractive option—even for the financially troubled Rams.

     

    Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or following him on Twitter.