Predicting the St. Louis Rams’ 5 Biggest Free Agency Moves
Predicting the St. Louis Rams' 5 Biggest NFL Free Agency Moves
This offseason is going to be a lot more about subtractions than additions for the St. Louis Rams, but that doesn’t mean the team can’t make a few savvy signings along the way. Where the Rams have gone wrong in the first two offseasons under the new regime is by signing some of the big-name free agents rather than finding the diamonds in the rough to round out their young roster. Some of those acquisitions haven’t panned out as expected – ahem, Cortland Finnegan – and will likely be earning a one-way ticket out of town as a result.
Clearly the biggest focus for the franchise with the NFL’s youngest roster two years running will be to continue its trend toward youthful signings with plenty of upside potential. Though that can be tough to find in a league where front offices are familiar with every player on every roster in addition to the practice squads of each team, some deals can still yield plenty of bang for your buck.
Looking for players who don’t get the super lucrative offers and adding them for a bargain price is obviously easier said than done, but luckily for the Rams there are some upcoming free agents who will fit perfectly into the team’s current needs. The team has to get better defensively next season, but adding protection for recovering quarterback Sam Bradford is a must if the intention is to hitch their wagon to him as the franchise signal-caller.
Trying to prioritize each player and find a way to make them fit under the salary cap with a budget that is already maxed out will be difficult, but these are five players the Rams need to have wearing their colors when the 2014 season commences.
5. E.J. Biggers, DB
Versatility is the biggest idea behind adding E.J. Biggers to the defensive backfield in St. Louis. In one game he played left and right cornerback, strong safety, free safety and nickel back for the Washington Redskins in 2013. The former seventh round pick only carried a $1.5 million cap hit last season and could likely be had for a similar number in 2014. At just 26-years-old he fits in with the youth movement at a reasonable price that should provide an upgrade over what Darian Stewart or Matt Giordano offered last season.
4. Linval Joseph, DT
This potential addition is contingent on the fact that the Rams decide to part ways with former overpriced free agent signing Kendall Langford. If that does take place, Linval Joseph would be a terrific partner for Michael Brockers inside on a defensive line that had some troubles slowing down the run at times in 2013. Joseph graded a 9.9 by Pro Football Focus and ranked in the top 10 among free agent interior defensive linemen available this offseason. He’s still just 25-years-old and has plenty of offer to a team ready to take the next step like the Rams.
3. Jo-Lonn Dunbar, LB
Though Jo-Lonn Dunbar saw a bit of a down year after returning from a four-game PED suspension, the veteran linebacker is still a vital cog in terms of leadership on the defensive side of the ball. His numbers may have regressed mightily this past season, but there is still room for Dunbar on this Rams roster. He won’t cost much due to the PED issue from last season, and the team would really miss his vocal direction if he doesn’t return.
2. Geoff Schwartz, OG
Now we get to the area where the Rams need the most help: The offensive line. Signing a player of Geoff Schwartz’s caliber will likely require the team to cut the overpriced Harvey Dahl at guard, but his age and unimpressive play combined with the hefty price tag should make that an easy decision. Schwartz was the second-highest grade among the free agent guards available which could make his price a bit steep for St. Louis, but juggling the books to make it work would be a huge coup for the offense as a whole next season.
1. Rodger Saffold, OT/OG
It might seem somewhat anticlimactic when the biggest free agent move is a re-signing, but with the way Rodger Saffold played last season it’s quite the opposite. He graded out as the sixth-best free agent tackle according to Pro Football Focus with a mark of 6.7, but it’s that added versatility of playing inside at guard last season – and quite well in fact – that makes Saffold such an attractive free agent. He may still hold a bit of a grudge over the Jake Long signing last season to a lucrative deal, so it could be difficult to keep him in a horned helmet next season. But the Rams should do everything possible without totally breaking the bank to keep Saffold around for the long haul.