Aside from re-signing right guard Rodger Saffold to a long-term contract extension, the St. Louis Rams have been quiet on the free-agent front.
Yet, that doesn’t mean head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead have thrown in the towel. According to Jonathan Webb of StLouisRams.com, the team has remained active in its pursuit of particular players at key positions.
Here’s what Coach Fisher told Webb on Monday:
We feel like we’re not quite done in free agency. We’ve got a couple other guys that we’re talking to. Obviously, we’re going to address it as best we can in the draft as well. You can’t overlook the fact that we’ve got some young players on this roster that are going to get opportunities to play and compete as well.
Rams signed former Florida State standout CB Greg Reid, who has recovered from two ACL surgeries and worked out for teams at FSU Pro Day.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 24, 2014
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Reid, he played his college ball at Florida State and was once a highly sought-after prospect.
Over the course of his three-year career as a Seminole, Reid was viewed as a game-changing player on defense and special teams. In 38 games, he tallied 120 tackles, 32 passes defended, seven interceptions, three forced fumbles and one touchdown.
As a punt returner, Reid averaged 12.6 yards a return, amassed 1,117 yards, scored three touchdowns and led the NCAA in punt-return average as a freshman. However, a pair of ACL injuries and an off-the-field incident prior to the 2012 season caused him to go undrafted last year.
The good news is Reid never stopped fighting the good fight. He worked hard, committed himself to being a better man and vowed that all he needed was one shot.
Clearly, Reid didn’t have to wait long for his chance. Less than a week after his pro-day workout, Snead told Ryan Van Bibber of Turf Show Times that he was eager to give Reid a shot.
Les Snead says he was impressed with Greg Reid's determination, overcoming ACL & personal issues, anxious to give the kid a shot— ryan van bibber (@justRVB) March 24, 2014
But why were the Rams so "anxious" to give Reid a shot? Snead said he was impressed with Reid's determination and his ability to overcome ACL and personal issues. This should come as no surprise based on the fact St. Louis has taken on players (Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson and Ray-Ray Armstrong) with troublesome pasts before.
This, in turn, proves that the Rams and Reid are a perfect fit for one another.
For St. Louis, it’s a low-risk, high-reward move that could pay immediate dividends. Reid has the necessary skill set to step in and effectively cover slot receivers at a moment’s notice. He has a quick first step, great short-area quickness and tremendous vision.
Those three things play into his top-notch ball skills. When the ball is in the air, he exudes confidence. There’s a reason the folks at NFL.com labeled Reid a “Playmaker on the ball” when they evaluated him at the end of the 2012 season.
Coincidentally enough, he was also pegged as an “Electric returner.” Even though the Rams aren’t in the market for a punt returner, thanks in large part to wide receiver Tavon Austin, they could be looking to improve their kick-return game.
On 63 kick returns at Florida State, Reid averaged 24.7 yards a return. That’s a pretty significant number when you look at how inefficient St. Louis’ kick returners were last season. Between three returners (Austin, Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead), the Rams averaged 22.6 yards and recorded a long of 32 yards.
That number has to improve in 2014. If it doesn’t, the Rams will continue to have one of the worst average starting field position’s in the NFL. Per Football Outsiders, St. Louis’ average starting field position in 2013 was their own 26.12-yard line, the fourth-worst average in the league.
Obviously, returning kicks in the NFL is a lot harder than it is at the collegiate level. Yet, that doesn’t mean Reid couldn’t do better than the slew of returners the Rams fielded last year. On tape, it’s evident that he is extremely comfortable returning kicks. He follows his blocks and shows the ability to pick up big chunks of yardage.
He never housed a kick return at Florida State, but there were a handful of times where he was inches away from breaking the big one. NFL teams often struggle to find good kick returners, which means Reid’s best shot at cracking the 53-man roster may come on special teams.
Despite the fact a lot can change from now until the start of the regular season, you have to like the Rams' aggressive nature. Instead of waiting around, they stayed one step ahead of the game and gobbled Reid up. Who knows what would have happened if they would have waited a day longer.
According to Jared Shanker of ESPN.com, scouts felt Reid was the best defensive back participating at Florida State’s pro day. With cornerbacks being such a prized possession in today’s NFL, it’s safe to say the Rams weren’t the only team interested in his services.
As long as Reid keeps his nose clean, he will be given every opportunity this offseason to impress St. Louis’ coaching staff. The Rams believe in him, they gave him his shot and now they are expecting him to return the favor by proving the naysayers wrong.