The much anticipated deadline to place the franchise tag on players came and went on Monday without the St. Louis Rams sticking anyone with that designation. Some felt that the organization would tag Danny Amendola due to his rapport with quarterback Sam Bradford, but that never materialized with the team’s precarious salary cap situation. Now it’s time to think about retooling what will be a very young wide receiving corps in 2013, but one familiar name could prevent any significant growing pains from taking place.
While Amendola was frequently mentioned as a ‘must keep’ for the Rams, his teammate Brandon Gibson was seldom, if ever, assigned with the same label. Certainly Amendola was the glamorous receiver for the team, but Gibson is the player that brings the substance. It remains to be seen just what his price will be when he hits free agency, but it’s safe to say that in a saturated receiver market this offseason, the Rams may be able to keep him around at a discount rate.
Gibson actually had a career year in 2012 in every statistical category except for receptions. His 51 grabs for 691 yards and five touchdowns with a 13.5 yards per catch average weren’t jaw-dropping stats, but they did represent steady production. That is one thing that General Manager Les Snead alluded to when discussing the impending negotiations with Amendola; durability.
Over the past two seasons, Amendola has played in just 12 games whereas Gibson has suited up for 31 out of a possible 32 contests. Some would be surprised to find out however that Gibson has nine touchdowns over his four years in St. Louis while Amendola has just seven during his four year tenure. Granted Amendola has played in 12 less games, but what this shows more than anything is that Gibson is nearly as valuable as Amendola and is way more reliable in terms of health.
Obviously subtracting Danny Amendola from the Rams is in no way a good thing. What is revealed upon further examination, however, is that Brandon Gibson is basically just as important to the team’s offensive success. It may not be the popular answer, but the decision to allow Amendola to chase the big dollars and “settle” for Gibson makes the most fiscal sense as well as the most football sense.