One need the Rams have is for a big guy in the middle of their line, a center who can handle the tough matchups against big DTs crashing the pocket or clogging up running lanes. Romberg and Leckey, who get points for giving 110%, were too easily pushed aside. They just aren't the answer. This year's draft has a number of quality prospects at C projected to go on the first day, but with the Rams looking at OTs in the draft as well, loading up on the o-line early comes at a cost of missing players of need at other positions. Also, Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat raised a point about development with new centers, that it can take some time for them to learn the game. So who are the free agents available at C?
Jason Brown, Baltimore, 26 - The best of the lot, and there's no way the Ravens don't franchise him or give him a new contract.
The group starts to get old from there.
Matt Birk, Minnesota, 33 - He would be a nice addition. He's older, but hasn't missed time since '05. Cost/benefit analysis leans against him given the added injury risk his age brings to a unit long-suffering from injuries, unless the Rams had a young guy on the roster who needed a year to develop.
Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis, 34 - He missed four games last year, and the Colts sorely missed him. This article says that the Colts have a history letting their over-30 free agents walk, making it seem likely that Saturday would hit the free agent market. Again, one of these old guys would be fine at the right price, so long as the Rams have a better backup. Say, Richie Incognito did pretty well at center in 2006; I wonder what the new regime thinks of moving him back there?
Brad Meester, Jacksonville, 32 - Meester meessed 11 games over the last two seasons, 'nuff said.
There's one more option, a backup who had the chance to shine in '08, now itching to get out there and prove his starting mettle. Carolina's Geoff Hangartner, 26, is a versatile OL, who's started at C and G in his time with the Panthers, including 11 games this season when they had the third best rushing offense in the league, per DVOA. With so many top guys set for free agency, i.e. Jordan Gross and Julius Peppers, it's likely the Panthers will be unable/unwilling to give Hangartner starting money, which he could get elsewhere. Getting a guy like this could be a real benefit to the Rams.