5 St. Louis Rams Veterans Who Deserve to Be Cut
5 St. Louis Rams Who Could be Released
The St. Louis Rams figure to be the youngest team in the NFL in 2013, and currently have only three players age 30 or over on their roster. The 53-man roster is likely to be comprised almost completely of rookies and young veterans this coming season, and poor performance of aging veterans is no longer a concern like it was under the previous administrations led by Steve Spagnuolo and Scott Linehan.
This is particularly evident by taking a quick glance at their depth chart. Their most experienced running backs are one-year veterans. Austin Pettis, a 25-year-old receiver who has played two seasons, is the old man among his position group. After veterans Jo-Lonn Dunbar, James Laurinaitis and Josh Hull, Jabara Williams is the next most experienced linebacker with seven NFL games. And Darian Stewart is the only Rams safety with more than one year in the league.
Though the team is so young, they still do have salary cap concerns that have been caused by the signings of franchise players such as Sam Bradford, Chris Long, Laurinaitis, Jake Long and Jared Cook to long-term contracts. The Rams have already tried to give themselves more financial flexibility this offseason by releasing veteran role players such as Quintin Mikell, Matthew Mulligan and Wayne Hunter, and allowing higher-paid players like Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson and Bradley Fletcher to walk away in free agency. If they decide that they need more cap space and are content with their younger players, here are five Rams who are in jeopardy of losing their jobs.
5. Kellen Clemens
Clemens only counts for $585,000 against the cap this season, but he does not serve much of a purpose on the field. The 30-year-old, who figures to be the third-stringer behind Sam Bradford and second-year vet Austin Davis, is experienced with Brian Schottenheimer's offense, and he is seen as a good locker room influence who does not complain about his lack of playing time. Clemens is a nice player to have on the team if the Rams have room for him, but he probably will not dress for any games this year without an injury, and if the team needs his spot for a more important contributor, they should not hesitate to release him.
4. Darian Stewart
Stewart, a veteran of three NFL seasons, is currently the Rams' most experienced option at safety. He has generally been effective while he has been on the field, but he has never stayed healthy for all 16 games. He missed four games last season, and it caused him to lose his starting spot to the much less-talented Craig Dahl. Stewart seemed to establish himself with the 77 total tackles he had in 2011, but he took a huge step back last year. With intriguing young options on the roster such as Matthew Daniels, Rodney McLeod, Cody Davis and Don Unamba, in addition to third-rounder T.J. McDonald, who is basically assured a starting spot, Stewart must reassert himself and discover his 2011 form if he wants to stick with the Rams.
3. Chris Williams
As of now, Chris Williams' career legacy is that of a 14th overall pick who never lived up to his potential on the field. Williams, who will be 28 on opening day, has improved his versatility over the years and now can fill in at every position on the line besides center, but he simply is not that talented. Williams' most memorable play in his limited Rams action last year was a costly unnecessary roughness penalty that cost the team an important first down in the season finale at Seattle. It was a bit of a surprise that the Rams even brought him back for the offseason, and if any younger lineman such as Ty Nsekhe, Brandon Washington, Tim Barnes, Braden Brown or Terrell Brown steps up, the team should save the money and release Williams.
2. Zach Potter
Potter was a rather puzzling signing for the Rams this offseason. The Rams released blocking specialist Matthew Mulligan, a starter last season who did his job very well. This seemingly was to allow younger tight ends like Mike McNeill, Cory Harkey and Cameron Graham to have a better shot at making the team. However, they signed Potter, a 27-year-old blocking specialist, on May 20. The former Jacksonville Jaguar, though slightly bigger than Mulligan, is a nearly identical player, having only caught two passes on 199 snaps last year. Potter is a four-year veteran who does not offer as much upside as Graham, is an inferior receiver to McNeill and is virtually an older version of Harkey. Unless these three young tight ends, in addition to undrafted rookie Phillip Lutzenkirchen, have miserably bad training camps, it is difficult to see a reason that the Rams would hold onto Potter going into the regular season.
1. Harvey Dahl
Though Dahl is the Rams' most aggressive lineman and by all accounts is a great locker room guy, he is scheduled to count for $4 million against the cap in 2013, all of which could be saved by releasing him. He is the team's oldest player, as he will be 32 on opening day, and is coming off a torn triceps, an injury which is very hard for an offensive lineman to return to full strength from. The Rams' roster features players such as Rokevious Watkins, Brandon Washington, Shelley Smith and Barrett Jones, all of whom have the potential to be successful starting guards. If the team decides that two of these players are capable of holding down the starting spots, or that Dahl is not the same after his injury, it would be a great cap move to release Dahl, which saves the team money and opens up a spot for a younger lineman to develop. With an administration that places such emphasis on young players that they have brought in, it would not be a huge surprise to see Dahl, a holdover from the Spagnuolo days, become a cap casualty.