9 Veteran Free Agents the St. Louis Rams Should Bring in for Training Camp

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 9, 2012

9 Veteran Free Agents the St. Louis Rams Should Bring in for Training Camp

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    The St. Louis Rams will report for training camp on July 28 at Continuity X training center in Earth City, MO. 

    At this point, the Rams have completed their 90-man roster and are ready to do battle until that number is diluted down to just 53 men. 

    There's a healthy amount of newly acquired talent on the roster, and the team possesses quality football players who will certainly help the team rebound after an abysmal 2011 campaign that was supposed to produce a NFC West championship but instead resulted in only two wins. 

    But even though Jeff Fisher and Co. are sailing the team in a healthy and promising direction, there's still room for additional improvements. 

    If some of the more inexperienced players are overwhelmed during camp, the team may consider replacing those players with some of the highly touted veteran free agents who are still on the market. 

    Let's go over some of the top veterans who are still on the market and decide if they could fit in with the Rams. 

Jake Scott, G

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    2011 Team: Tennessee Titans

    Jake Scott is a behind-the-scenes type player who could finally solidify the left guard position for the Rams, at least on a short-term basis. 

    Scott spent four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and was a full-time starter during their 2006 Super Bowl run. He then signed a contract with Tennessee and has been with them ever since. 

    Scott's connection with Jeff Fisher's Titans makes this move at least a possibility. 

    And while Scott is not a dominate player by any means, he'll improve the run game and provide solid depth if he can't win over the starting job. 

Visanthe Shiancoe, TE

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    2011 Team: Minnesota Vikings

    Visanthe Shiancoe's career is best remembered for his 11-touchdown season in 2009 when the Vikings made a run to the NFC Championship game. 

    Shiancoe has never been a premier talent at the tight end position, but he has been consistently productive over the last four seasons, despite benefiting from solid quarterback play in only one of those years (2009). 

    Shiancoe will struggle to win playing time with the younger and more athletic Lance Kendricks on the rosters, but he'll certainly provide the Rams with a red-zone weapon. 

Ryan Grant, RB

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    2011 Team: Green Bay Packers

    The Rams will once again ask Steven Jackson to carry the load at running back. 

    Jackson is showing no signs of aging and should remain productive, while second-round rookie Isaiah Pead will provide the Rams with some much needed speed out of the backfield. 

    So, at first glance, it looks as though the Rams are set at running back. But looks can be deceiving. 

    If Jackson goes down for a significant amount of time, is the 197-pound Pead really prepared to carry the entire load as a rookie? 

    The Rams need a third running back—preferably someone who can carry the ball more than 25 times a game if necessary. 

    Maybe Ryan Grant is an overpriced option, but he's certainly capable of performing that job description. 

Aubrayo Franklin, DT

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    2011 Team: New Orleans Saints

    The Rams won't be running an exact replica of Gregg Williams' system, but their defense will likely have many similarities since he was hired as their coordinator before his suspension. 

    With that in mind, Aubrayo Franklin is a logical option due to his experience in the Gregg Williams system. 

    Franklin offers very little pass rush out of the defensive tackle position, but he's a capable run defender. 

    He won't be a full-time starter, but a package featuring Franklin and Michael Brockers in the middle will make it extremely difficult for opponents to run the ball on first down. 

Plaxico Burress, WR

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    2011 Team: New York Jets

    Some people are skeptical when it comes to signing players with off-the-field baggage, but the Rams need all the red-zone help they can find. 

    Just think back to the Rams' abomination of a performance against Seattle on Monday Night Football last season...

    After approximately five failed attempts to punch the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line, offensive genius Josh McDaniels finally realized that the All-Pro power running back sitting on the sidelines might come in handy and reluctantly put him into the game. 

    Of course, Steven Jackson was able to score the touchdown, and it wouldn't take most people five failed attempts to realize that he was the best option. But the debacle exposed a severe lack of goal-line weapons on the roster. 

    And honestly, outside of drafting the 6'4" Brian Quick, the Rams have made very few additions to their red-zone offense this offseason.

    A guy like Plaxico Burress could come in handy in those situations, regardless of his antics.

    After being out of football for two seasons, Burress was able to score eight touchdowns for the Jets last season. And his familiarity in Brian Schottenheimer's offense is also something to be desired. 

    Even if he doesn't start on a regular basis, he would be a nice asset to have on the bench for touchdown situations.  

Andre Carter, DE

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    2011 Team: New England Patriots

    At this time, the Rams are looking very strong at defensive end. Starters Chris Long and Robert Quinn are both expected to reach double-digit sack totals, or at least come close. 

    With Long and Quinn coming off the edge, the pass rush seems to be a team strength. But what happens to that dominate pass rush if one of the two starters is sidelined with an injury? 

    Williams Hayes is the No. 3 defensive end on the team and was a solid offseason pickup, but he's not capable of applying consistent pressure. 

    Andre Carter, on the other hand, has experience in a 4-3 defense thanks to his time in Washington, and he has three double-digit sack seasons over the last five years, including 10 sacks in 2011. 

    Carter is weak against the run, but he'll ensure that the St. Louis pass rush remains top-notch even if an injury occurs. 

Braylon Edwards, WR

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    2011 Team: San Francisco 49ers

    Braylon Edwards has had an inconsistent career, but he's a reliable long-ball threat whenever he's healthy and on the field. 

    The Rams have some young receivers on the team, and it would be counterproductive to steal their reps and give them to a washed-up receiver like Edwards, but the offense needs more pop. 

    At the very least, Edwards would provide solid competition in camp and would have a leg up thanks to his experience under Brian Schottenheimer in New York. 

Albert Haynesworth, DT

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    2011 Team: New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

    Yes, Fat Albert is washed up and merely a shell of the 2008 Albert Haynesworth, who was the most dominate defensive tackle in the game. 

    But if he was capable of being the top tackle in the NFL at one point, isn't there just a slim chance that he has one more solid year of production left? 

    Probably not. But maybe he's still worth a shot. 

    Jeff Fisher was his former coach in Tennessee and apparently the only coach capable of squeezing production out of him. So now that Fisher is with St. Louis, maybe he can repeat that success. 

    What's the harm in at least giving him a look during training camp? 

    That's what the New England Patriots did. They gave him a fair look, decided he wasn't for them and sent him packing. 

    Some are worried about the potential distraction, but that distraction didn't affect the Patriots. They remained focused all the way to the Super Bowl. 

    It's very likely that Haynesworth will never get his act together. But if he was to rekindle his dominance for just one more year, the benefits would be significant. 

Marcus McNeill, T

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    2011 Team: San Diego Chargers

    Marcus McNeill, the former Pro Bowl tackle of the San Diego Chargers, has struggled to stay on the field lately. 

    McNeill has missed 12 games in the last two seasons, but the 28-year-old is extremely effective when he's healthy enough to play. 

    The best part about McNeill is that he wouldn't be required to start in St. Louis, but he's capable of doing so if the current tackles (Rodger Saffold, Jason Smith) are cursed with injuries or inconsistent play. 

    If Saffold were to miss time due to injury, like he did in 2011, would Sam Bradford be more comfortable with a second-year camp body like Kevin Hughes protecting his blindside, or a former Pro Bowler such as McNeill? 

    The primary concern is McNeill's price tag, as well as his willingness to start the season as a backup. 


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