St. Louis Rams Have Questions at Backup, Offensive Line This Offseason
Sam Bradford Has 2 Years To Prove Himself
Sam Bradford was well on his way to a record season before a torn ACL ended those hopes. Now with two years of guaranteed money left on his contract, the St. Louis Rams will be looking to reconfigure the deal at a lower figure. He is due to earn $17 million against the payroll next season and the Rams are already facing cap issues as it is. A deal must be made in order to free up cap space. If something isn't done about his deal, then the Rams will be facing issues in trying to fill other holes on the roster. Bradford should be realistic in his expectations. He hasn't been a booming No. 1 pick, but he hasn't been surrounded with the talent to help his cause. Hopefully he doesn't expect the same $17 million per year and look for something more modest that won't debilitate his team's chances.
The offensive line has been more than solid since Zac Stacy took over the starting back role. Before Stacy's emergence, the line seemed to allow a lot of pressure as teams keyed in on the pass rush and attacked Bradford without even worrying about the possibility of the run. The Rams have five offensive lineman who will be free agents at the end of the season. Four of them have started at least one game on the line, including Chris Williams, Shelley Smith, Rodger Saffold and Joe Barksdale. The fourth there has been able to keep the RT spot after Saffold's return from injury. St. Louis will have to find ways to re-sign some of their in-house options and look elsewhere to upgrade positions. A lot of their ability to do this will depend on Bradford's contract situation.
The following in this slideshow are more thoughts on potential offseason moves the Rams could make at backup QB or along the offensive line. Enjoy.
Kellen Clemens Earning A New Contract
Kellen Clemens being thrust into the starting position might end up being the best thing to happen for the career backup. His play is getting better each game and he is controlling the offense with confidence. While St. Louis may miss out on Bradford's high completion percentage, Clemens is moving more in the pocket and buying more time. He has done enough to earn the No. 1 spot on the depth chart for the rest of the season. A contract season and injury seems to have happened at just the right time to help Clemens raise his own stock. His cap hit for the 2013 season is $870,000 and he could be setting himself up for a pay day of about the same amount. Whether it is for the Rams or another team in need of a backup will depend on if the Rams think they should make the move to a younger player in the draft. Clemens is 30 years old this season, so he won't get any type of starting deal, but he could aim for a team that has a poor starter to try and give himself a chance at PT. The Minnesota Vikings could be calling him if they become that desperate or if they have realized just how bad Christian Ponder really is.
Michael Vick's Chances Are Running Out
With Nick Foles taking charge of the Philadelphia Eagles' offense, Michael Vick seems to be on his way out. Vick has been one of the most exhilarating players the NFL has ever seen since he stepped onto the field. It has been a huge let down over the last few years watching Vick fall apart physically. He is still without a doubt a polarizing figure to watch as he has the rocket arm and Speedy Gonzales legs. The issue still lies in accuracy and reading a defense. It's become obvious that he just doesn't progress through his reads very well. Now he can't even stay on the field for a full game. Vick's contract shouldn't be what he is used to, but he will find a team that needs a temporary fix at QB. St. Louis wouldn't be an ideal fit for Vick who still wants to start and he would be forced to sit behind Bradford.
Matt Flynn's Trying To Save GB And His Career
Matt Flynn started as a backup that received a huge contract from the Seattle Seahawks based on a couple of great games when there was no pressure on him. He was backing up Aaron Rodgers to start his career only to play when games were blowouts and it didn't matter what he did at that point. Then he was beat out by Russell Wilson for the starting job. Since then he has been in search of another chance and pay day. He could earn himself another big pay day by performing well while Rodgers is out. His offseason rides on his performance for the next 3-6 weeks. Keep an eye on him if your team is looking for a QB or a solid backup, and he could be an option for the Rams.
Please Not Josh Freeman
Josh Freeman hasn't been productive for a few seasons and his teams have not showed any type of loyalty to him. A lot of rumors about Freeman have spread through the league like wildfire and it seems like his former coach has been responsible for much of the bad mouthing. The former starter has seen his struggles this year and things really are not looking up for the still young QB. He just isn't the answer in St. Louis no matter what his physical tools are. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has always looked to have a smart QB sitting on the bench; not an athletic but lost on-the-field player.
Harvey Dahl Is Still A Solid RG
Besides an injury and flying off of the handle to protect his QB in Carolina, Harvey Dahl has been a great RG for St. Louis. The Rams would be smart to hold onto the veteran guard, but it isn't necessary if they could hold onto a few other options. Chris Williams has made his starts at LG and performed pretty well in all 10 games. He will be cheap two-to-three-year signing for the Rams. Shelley Smith has served as a swingman on the interior part of the line. He isn't the most skilled lineman, but is valuable in providing his teammates a breather when needed and adding depth to multiple spots. Joe Barksdale has taken over the RT spot since Saffold's untimely injury. Barksdale is earning a nice extension unless St. Louis opts to take a different route in filling the RT position.
Rodger Saffold's Health Is A Concern
The St. Louis Rams have moved Rodger Saffold to right guard which is his third position in two years. After performing admirably at LT, his shoes were filled by the signing of Jake Long. Hopes were high for Saffold at RT, but an early injury cost him that position too. The move to RT cost him a lot of money as teams are more likely to give big money to left tackles. Saffold could have guaranteed himself a good amount of money if he had stayed healthy and dominated at RT this season. Instead, another move to RG will cost him more money, but St. Louis could really benefit by keeping Saffold locked up because of his newfound versatility.
There are some free agent options that St. Louis should look too if they are let go at the end of the season. Michael Oher heads the list for RTs set to become free agents. He is not the blindside protector that was expected of him, but his performance on the right side is promising. With Scott Wells not guaranteed money for next season, St. Louis could steal the top FA center in Alex Mack. The current Cleveland Brown will demand a big-money contract as far as centers go and St. Louis will have to find a way to get under the cap if they signed him. The recently traded Eugene Monroe is due to become a free agent. He has been a LT and will probably stick to the left side, so St. Louis really won't want to spend money when they have so much wrapped up in Long. The same could be said for Branden Albert.