For even the casual NFL fan, the St. Louis Rams have made enough noise to warrant some attention this offseason. The team has added some big pieces in free agency to an offense that really sputtered at times during the 2012 campaign. In the heat of the moment, sometimes the low-key signings go unnoticed among the headline-stealing transactions, so here is a look at just what the Rams have done thus far in free agency and what may be on the horizon in the near future.
Let’s not bury the lead here; the Rams added both tight end Jared Cook and Jake Long in free agency, two of the biggest prizes on the open market. Cook signed a five-year, $35.1 million deal that could reach $38.1 million depending on incentives while Long’s deal is for four years, $34 million. The two are expected to greatly improve an offense that ranked in the bottom quarter of the league last year in nearly every statistical category. With the departure of long-time running back Steven Jackson in free agency, the Rams may be trending toward more of an aerial attack in the upcoming season.
On the second-tier of signings, the Rams had two very important re-ups with players who played critical roles on a young, improving defense a year ago. Defensive end William Hayes re-signed for $10.25 million over three years and considering his sack total of seven last season in his first year with the team, the Rams got quite a bargain for the 27 year old. Jermelle Cudjo was also re-signed for two years, $1.8 million and he provided some much needed depth at defensive tackle behind Kendall Langford and first rounder from a year ago Michael Brockers. The defensive line is the strongest part of the Rams’ defense, and it got even stronger with these signings.
One area of concern that has yet to be addressed is the safety position. The Rams released veteran Quintin Mikell prior to free agency due to his gargantuan $9 million scheduled cap hit in 2013. It has been reported that the team would like Mikell back at a reduced rate and at 32 years of age, the team may get its wish. According to Head Coach Jeff Fisher from Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch via NFL.com: “We have interest. He played very well for us last year. It’s just one of those things that you have to do once you get in the process (of free agency) and you start making moves. But we have interest. The defensive staff was really happy with him last year.”
While the Rams have been the big movers and shakers this offseason, they still have some holes to fill on a very young roster. It remains to be seen if the team will bring in another running back to challenge their youngsters or if they will rely on those second-year players in Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson to share the load. That may be a wrap on the free agency activity thus far for the team, but they are by no means finished improving the roster this offseason.