If indeed the St. Louis Rams are interested in adding the former Philly and New Orleans DT, he would give them a run-stopping option to play in the DT rotation. Of course, that's going to have a lot to do with whether or not he's healthy. When the Eagles first brought the free agent in for a visit last month, they did not sign him after the DT took a physical for the team. Not being signed and the words "took a physical" are an easy red flag for Thomas, who missed half of last season with a triceps injury AND played at 335 lbs. The problem, as relayed in this Scout.com report might have had more to do with the later than the triceps:
...a source said that he probably needed to lose at least 15 pounds if he was to gain decent interest around the league.
That was June. It's conceivable that the big guy, sensing the writing on the wall for his NFL playing days, decided to hit the gym and start getting in shape for teams to consider once training camp revealed more needs and more opportunities. Now, what about Thomas as a fit for the Rams?
First and foremost, he's 35, not exactly in the springtime of his career. I remember the Rams last aging, marquee DT, La'Roi Glover, who proved to be something of a liability on an already shaky defensive line. Of course, they are different kind of players, but it's hard not to be a little reluctant about 35-year-old players. Thomas would not be counted on as a starter, merely a role player in the rotation. There's no way he would be guaranteed a roster spot at this point, which makes the idea of signing him more palatable. All the better if he is healthy and playing at an acceptable weight. The Saints' defense was nothing special last year, but the problems went well beyond the DTs and the 8 games Thomas played. In 2007, with Thomas starting 14 games, the Saints had the 10th best run defense, per Football Outsiders DVOA, and had the 9th best adjusted line yards number, 3.88, for rushes at the middle/guard position, where Thomas was stationed.
Spagnuolo and Thomas are certainly not strangers. Spags' coaching days and Thomas' playing days in Philadelphia overlapped from 1999 to 2005.
Okay, so how does this reconcile with the Rams stated desire to only sign up and coming players? Well, it doesn't really, but signing a veteran here and there in the hopes they can be a role player is a lot different than rebuilding a team around aging veterans in key roles. A player like Thomas, if they sign him and if he's got anything left, would give them a stop-gap solution for a year, allowing them to play competitive football and continue building the roster in the seasons ahead.
About the other guys at DT...even if Thomas were signed and made the 53-man roster, Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan have nothing to worry about. I don't know whether or not Spagnuolo plans to keep 3 or 4 DTs, but I still like the odds of Darell Scott making the final cut.