Ranking St. Louis Rams' Best Remaining Free-Agency Options

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerContributor IIIMarch 16, 2014

Ranking St. Louis Rams' Best Remaining Free-Agency Options

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The St. Louis Rams have been quiet in free agency, to say the least. 

    The team re-signed tackle Rodger Saffold and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar—a promising start to the offseason—but so far, no new faces have been added to the roster. 

    It appears St. Louis will primarily rely on its two first-round draft selections to improve the roster rather than overspending on top-tier free agents, but there's still more than enough time to acquire another reasonably priced veteran. 

    As it turns out, there are a number of available free agents still on the market capable of upgrading St. Louis' roster. 

    Here are the top-ranked free agents still available. The rankings are determined by the player's age, production, price tag and whether or not he fills a need for the Rams.

10. WR Santonio Holmes, New York Jets

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Santonio Holmes has missed 17 games the last two seasons. The 30-year-old receiver is not as dangerous as he used to be, but he still has value.

    The Rams are loaded with youth at the wide receiver position. In fact, 26-year-old Austin Pettis is the most experienced member of the bunch. Adding a veteran like Holmes—someone who has won a Super Bowl and played for multiple winning teams—could have a great effect on the younger receivers. 

    Not only is Holmes a veteran presence, but he's also familiar with Brian Schottenheimer's offensive system from their time together in New York. He'll catch on immediately with the offense.

    There are some concerns regarding his attitude, according to ESPN, but Schottenheimer is familiar with Holmes. If Schotty is willing to overlook the rumors of dysfunction and vouch for Holmes, it could be a great fit.

9. WR Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Kenny Britt reportedly scheduled a visit with the Rams, according to Ian Rapoport, so there's clearly a level of interest between the two parties. 

    According to NJ.com, Britt has dealt with nine separate encounters with law enforcement since being drafted in 2009, including a car chase and resisting arrest (along with a number of other equally troubling offenses). 

    Britt's inconsistency on the field also raises red flags. He had just 11 receptions in 12 games last season, and Britt has not been the same since tearing both his MCL and ACL early in the 2011 season, according to ESPN

    Regardless, Britt was drafted by Jeff Fisher in 2009 and played his best football under Fisher. If Fisher can keep Britt under control, this move could put St. Louis' offense over the top. 

    Despite Britt's injuries and legal problems, there's no denying he has the talent of a true No. 1 wide receiver. And to top it off, Britt's issues will result in a low salary near the league minimum.  

    Even if Britt's only accomplishment is lighting a fire under third-year player Brian Quick, forcing Quick to finally step up as a legitimate receiver, it's a gamble worth taking. 

8. WR Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Like the other receivers mentioned in this slideshow, Miles Austin has struggled with staying on the field—he has missed 15 starts in his last three seasons. 

    Austin hasn't produced a 1,000-yard season since 2010, but it's not outrageous to presume that the 29-year-old is capable of a comeback. He's under 30 years of age and didn't even see regular playing time until 2009, meaning he only has five seasons of wear and tear on his body.

    If Austin can muster just 10 or more games per season for the Rams at near 100 percent health, he'll be a major upgrade to the offense.

7. S Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta Falcons

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    Tom Lynn/Associated Press

    The Rams are in need of a starting safety to stick next to T.J. McDonald up top. And while Thomas DeCoud is not exactly the first-round safety some were hoping for, he's a reliable veteran capable of helping the defense. 

    DeCoud—a Pro Bowl selection in 2012—has missed just two starts in his last five seasons. He had just 65 total tackles in 2013 (a career low since becoming a starter in 2009) and did not record a single pick, but the 28-year-old is still worth a look. 

    General manager Les Snead worked for the Atlanta Falcons organization from 1997 to 2011, so he's undoubtedly familiar with DeCoud both as a player and person. 

    Snead will be able to determine if DeCoud is a good fit for the St. Louis defense, and he'll make the right call.

6. C Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Alex Mack has the talent to be at the top of this list, but his potential price tag takes away from his appeal. 

    Mack was already the top-paid center in football last season after making over $10 million in 2013, according to Spotrac, and his new deal will likely be in the same ballpark. 

    Additionally, teams do not have the ability to throw out a low-ball offer, as the Cleveland Browns have special rights to Mack and can match any offer, according to NFL.com. The offer has to surpass what Cleveland is willing to pay him. 

    On top of that, the Rams currently have two centers on the roster with starting experience (Tim Barnes, Scott Wells). Neither player has Mack's commercial appeal, but both players can get the job done, even if it's not pretty at times. 

    And in the end, how much of a difference will an elite center make over an average but competent center? Is it really worth nearly $10 million per year? 

    St. Louis has other priorities. Overpaying for a star center appears to be a luxury move that the Rams cannot afford at the moment. 

5. QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Michael Vick is hardly a fan favorite due to his off-the-field debacle, but the Rams certainly have room for his talents on the roster. 

    St. Louis' backup quarterback of 2013, Kellen Clemens, signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers, according to NFL.com. Clemens stepped in for the injured Sam Bradford last October and posted a 4-5 record as a starter. He was surprisingly competent under center, but now the Rams are in need of a new No. 2. 

    Third-year player Austin Davis is a feasible in-house option, but faith in Davis has plummeted after he failed to outplay Clemens in the 2013 preseason. 

    Due to Davis' past shortcomings, the Rams could certainly use a veteran talent who knows how to win games, and Vick fits the description. 

    If Bradford goes down again in 2014, the season will be in great jeopardy. But with Vick on the roster, the Rams won't be forced to throw in the flag, at least not right away. He gives them a fighting chance in a worst-case scenario. 

    Also, as mentioned in a previous slide, Snead is a former member of the Atlanta front office, so he has a working relationship with Vick that could influence the decision.

4. DE Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    Adding Jared Allen to an already stellar defensive end rotation that features Chris Long and Robert Quinn would provide St. Louis with the most relentless pass rush in all of football. 

    Not only would the St. Louis defense dominate, but this move would also suppress the temptation to select Jadeveon Clowney at No. 2 overall, which would free the Rams up to draft positions of greater need.

    However, there's almost no chance that the Rams pursue Jared Allen. Allen has already threatened to retire if he's not handsomely compensated, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport (h/t Marc Sessler of NFL.com), and there's no way St. Louis is willing to fork out major dough to a defensive end with Long and Quinn already on the roster. 

    But still, it's fun to picture the possibility of a four-man rush featuring Allen, Quinn, Long and Michael Brockers.

3. CB Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    Antonio Cromartie has missed just two starts in his last six seasons and has been one of the better corners in football since being drafted in 2006. 

    The Rams screwed up after drafting colossal bust Tye Hill over Cromartie during the 2006 draft, but now, after eight years, the team has a chance to correct that error by bringing in the player who was truly worthy of that selection. 

    Not only that, but Cromartie also fills a big need. 

    Cortland Finnegan has signed with the Miami Dolphins, so reality is beginning to set in—Brandon McGee is now St. Louis' No. 3 corner. 

    McGee greatly struggled as a rookie last season, so it's a bit frightening to think he's next in line behind starters Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. 

    Modern-day NFL defenses require three starting-caliber cornerbacks. The Rams need to find another top-notch corner before training camp.

2. DT Henry Melton, Chicago Bears

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    Eugene Tanner/Associated Press

    Henry Melton played just three games in 2013 due to a season-ending knee injury, according to Sports Illustrated, but he's still one of the best 4-3 defensive tackles in the game.

    The Rams have been quiet in free agency, so the team is apparently attempting to avoid hefty contract offers, but certain moves can be made to free up cash. If the team cuts center Wells and defensive tackle Kendall Langford (who is no longer needed in this scenario), it will free up $8.5 million in cap space—enough to cover the first year of Melton's contract. 

    Replacing Langford with Melton would provide St. Louis with a star-studded defensive line. The line would feature four Pro Bowl-caliber players, and not a single offensive line in football would be capable of containing the pass rush on a consistent basis. 

    The move is unlikely, but this move would turn the St. Louis defense into a top-five unit. 


1. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the very best football player on this list? Absolutely not. 

    He is, however, the best fit for the Rams. He's still in his prime at 27 years old, he fills a serious need and he is reasonably priced (his last contract was a two-year deal worth $10 million, according to Spotrac).

    Signing Rodgers-Cromartie would provide St. Louis with another starting-caliber cornerback—something the team is desperately lacking, as mentioned in the previous slide—and he comes at a price that will not cripple the team. 

    Rodger-Cromartie has been through his ups and downs, but he's a good value for St. Louis. 


    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 by following him on Twitter.