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St Louis Rams: 5 Potential 2012 Free Agents to Sign

Brian TaylorCorrespondent IIIOctober 26, 2011

St Louis Rams: 5 Potential 2012 Free Agents to Sign

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    With all of the struggles that the St. Louis Rams are having right now, the easy way for fans to forget the pain is to look to the future. What better way to do that then to look at players that could fill the current holes in the Rams team?

    The 2012 free-agent class has a lot of potential. There are a good amount of players under the age of 30 who could be impact players for their new teams for years to come. Of course, it's difficult to predict which players will decide that it's better to stay at home than to change teams.

    Assuming that these players will leave their current teams, here are five players who would be great fits in St. Louis.

Carl Nicks, Guard

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    It would be very surprising if the New Orleans Saints let Carl Nicks walk away, but there is a chance they will.

    This past offseason, Nicks and the Saints couldn't agree to a long-term contract and had to settle on a one-year tender.

    With Drew Brees also being a free agent this offseason, New Orleans might have to use the franchise tag on him, which leaves Carl Nicks to test free agency.

    Nicks, who NFL players voted 55th on NFL Network's top 100 list, is a huge upgrade over the disappointing left guard Jacob Bell. The 26-year-old guard would provide a reliable man to help protect Sam Bradford.

    Any player who can keep Bradford upright should be considered at this point.

Tracy Porter, Cornerback

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    Speaking of New Orleans Saints who could slip away, Tracy Porter is a young cornerback who has been impressive in his first three seasons.

    The 25-year-old Porter is most known for his breakout 2009 season, where he recorded four interceptions and the pick six against Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. Although he had a down 2010 season, he has earned the starting cornerback position for the Saints this season.

    It's very hard to find cover cornerbacks in the NFL, and Tracy Porter looks to be the best of the 2012 free-agent class.

    It's hard to imagine that New Orleans could keep Brees, Nicks and Porter. Porter would likely be the odd man out who ends up elsewhere.

    Seeing that Ron Bartell may never play again, the Rams could use a long-term cornerback option across from Bradley Fletcher.

Dwayne Bowe, WR

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    Dwayne Bowe is one of the most physically gifted wide receivers in the NFL. It's difficult to watch a Kansas City Chiefs game and see something from Bowe that disappoints you.

    Bowe has blossomed in the past two seasons to become one of the best receivers in the league. Just when he was about to be labeled a bust, he broke out last season to the tune of 15 touchdown catches.

    This offseason, critics said, "Bowe's 2010 season was a fluke." He has responded well thus far, ranking 10th in receiving yards and eighth in touchdowns.

    Not often do teams have a chance to come away with an elite receiver through free agency. This would be a no-brainer if Bowe does in fact slip through Kansas City's fingers.

    Brandon Lloyd is an aging receiver and is by no means a long-term solution. Dwayne Bowe could be a long-term solution for the Rams.

Michael Griffin, Safety

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    Michael Griffin has developed into one of the best safeties in the NFL in his five-year career. Whether or not he hits the market depends on if the Tennessee Titans elect to place the franchise tag on him or on Cortland Finnegan.

    The success that Griffin has had early on in his career is amazing. He intercepted 15 passes in his first four seasons and finished second on the Titans in tackles a season ago.

    Griffin has shown the versatility to help in the run game or be a ball hawk in the secondary. He will demand big-time money wherever he goes.

    The Rams' struggles in the secondary are well known, but the position they should focus on filling is the safety spot opposite Quintin Mikell. Mikell has been playing at a Pro-Bowl level all season, and adding a player of Griffin's ability would really help to solidify the St. Louis secondary.

Mario Williams, Defensive End

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    If the Rams can get Mario Williams, they need to get him.

    Plain and simple, he'd be a focal point of the massive turnaround that needs to happen for St. Louis.

    Williams has been labeled as a bust by some who don't believe that he should've been drafted No. 1 overall coming out of NC State.

    I don't see that. The key stat used when rating defensive ends is sacks. Williams had 48 sacks in his first five seasons, and collected five in five games this season before getting injured.

    And when Mario isn't getting to the quarterback, he does an excellent job in stopping the run.

    How he would fit in with St. Louis is the bigger question. James Hall would be released for sure, but the sticky part is what would happen with first-round pick Robert Quinn.

    Would he be used as a situational player once again? Or, do they part ways with Chris Long? If Williams does hit the free-agent market, the Rams need to find space for him on the roster.

    How often does a 6'6", 285-pound player with great athleticism come around?

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