If the 2012 showed nothing else for the St. Louis Rams, it illustrated perfectly just how big of an impact small signings can have in free agency. The Rams will be a bit handcuffed by their salary cap position this offseason, but that doesn’t mean that the club won’t be able to make some key additions via free agency. Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar was last year’s unheralded gem as he came in and contributed 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and actually led the team with 16 tackles for a loss. On a club that features two of the best defensive ends in the league in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, that’s saying something.
While it was the defense that needed a facelift last year at this time, the offense could use some help this time around. Here are some lesser known names that could step in immediately and provide a serious upgrade to the current roster.
DAVID NELSON, WR
He may have experienced a bit of a down year in 2012, but Nelson is a physical force at 6’5” 214lbs. The Rams have been missing that big bodied target that can thrive in the red zone and with tight end Lance Kendricks’ continued struggles quarterback Sam Bradford would welcome Nelson into the fold. The Buffalo Bills aren’t going to bring back the receiver who only had two catches last year due to a torn ACL and he could come on the cheap for a frugal Rams squad.
KEVIN OGLETREE, WR
Another option could be the third wheel from the Dallas Cowboys in Ogletree. He had 32 catches for 436 yards on the year, but shined in the season opener for Dallas with eight grabs for 114 yards and two scores. When made one of the first reads, Ogletree can shine. With Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson both expected to depart in free agency, he could get that opportunity with the Rams.
WINSTON JUSTICE, OT
If the Rams choose to add offensive weaponry and address other areas of the offensive line in the NFL Draft, Justice would be a great stopgap solution at left tackle. He showed his ability last season with the Indianapolis Colts in a similar role having one of his best years in the league. Justice always comes with a bit of an injury concern, but he would be worth a low risk signing.
BENJAMIN WATSON, TE
As mentioned above, Kendricks hasn’t been cutting it at tight end. While Watson is an aging veteran at 32 years old, he still has some productivity left in him as shown by his 49 catches for 501 yards and three touchdowns with the Cleveland Browns in 2012. Adding an experienced presence to the league’s youngest locker room would also be a nice addition if he came at a bargain price.
Plenty of teams will look to make a big splash in free agency, but the Rams will not be one of them due to their lack of salary cap room. Just remember though, even if it doesn’t make headlines when the signing happens, the bigger story could still be made on the field in 2013.