The St. Louis Rams have been investing heavily into their wide receiving corps over the past few years. Since the 2012 draft, the organization has spent a first-round pick, a second-round pick, a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick on four different wide receivers—Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
At the time of their selections, each player appeared to be a top-notch pick. Quick was a small-school sensation, Givens could take the top off a defense at a moment’s notice, Austin was a two-time All-American and Bailey broke the single-season receiving record at West Virginia.
Yet, the youth movement in St. Louis hasn’t produced ideal results in terms of offensive efficiency. The Rams had the 27th-best passing attack in 2013 and the 18th-best passing attack in 2012.
With the arrow pointing down on the Rams’ passing game after a down year, general manager Les Snead took it upon himself to add a seasoned vet to the mix. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, St. Louis signed former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt to a one-year, $1.4 million deal.
However, Britt has the opportunity to make $2.9 million if he meets the escalators in the contract. No specifics were given as to what requirements had to be met to trigger the particular escalators, but one would be wise to guess the incentives are based around playing time and performance.
No matter what the final number ends up being, the Rams and Britt are a match made in heaven. St. Louis got one of the most physically gifted receivers in the NFL at a discounted price, and Britt received the fresh start he desperately needed.
Here’s what Cian Fahey of FootballGuys.com had to say about Britt after his ridiculous two-game stretch (14 receptions 271 yards receiving and three touchdowns) at the beginning of the 2011 season: “If you break down what Britt during that two game spell you see a player who has every single tool required to be the best in the league.”
Years later, Fahey hasn’t backed down from his original statement. On Monday, he told me Britt has the talent to be “as good as anyone in the league who is not named Calvin Johnson.”
Yes, that may seem like an incredible claim based on Britt’s past, but you shouldn’t count the sixth-year player out. Aside from the fact he’s only 25 years old, it appears as if his off-field problems are finally behind him.
Plus, Britt is bound and determined to remind teams of his sky-high potential.
Under head coach Jeff Fisher in Tennessee, Britt tallied 1,476 yards receiving on 84 receptions and scored 12 touchdowns. Undoubtedly, the Rams would love to see him get on the same page as quarterback Sam Bradford and provide that same kind of production.
Nevertheless, Britt has had his fair share of injury problems. In 2011, he tore his ACL and MCL. This, in turn, forced him to battle persistent knee troubles the past few seasons. In all, he hasn’t played a 16-game season since his rookie year and has missed 19 games the last three years.
Pundits would like to peg Britt as the Rams’ No. 1 receiver, but that is certainly up for debate until he can prove his injury problems are behind him. The good news is he’s not being paid like a No. 1 receiver, and he will have to earn his stripes if he wants to rejuvenate his career.
Like so many other of St. Louis’ moves this offseason, it’s a low-risk, high-reward deal. Britt could either break the bank in 2015 after a breakout campaign, or he could fizzle out after a handful of games like Mike Sims-Walker did in 2011.
For the sake of Britt’s aptitude, let’s hope he doesn’t take the Sims-Walker career path and end up in the CFL. That would truly be a waste.