The Rams' Free Agency: Is There Anyone Out There?

Twiddling their thumbs nervously and barely making any moves, much like the guy who brings twenty bucks to a five-to-play poker game, this offseason the Rams have passed on a bevy of big-name free agents.  While the Rams have rightfully stayed silent as aged veterans like Julius Peppers, Aaron Kampman, Donovan McNabb, Ben Watson, Kyle Vanden Bosch ,and Larry Johnson have flocked to teams with Super Bowl aspirations, the Rams have also sat on their hands as the rest of the league has snatched up younger, solid backups players and studs alike, including Jason Campbell, Santonio Holmes, Brandon Marshall, and Donald Penn.

At this point, most will agree that the Rams need a true #2RB.  Steven Jackson is starting to break down and while we tend to think of him as the guy that Rocks Without Blocks, there’s only so much abuse our centerpiece can take before his knees and back betray us to our darkest nightmare: a scenario where our quarterback and wide receivers have to carry our offense.

Even more than a verifiable #2RB, we need playmakers.  Mardy Gilyard certainly adds to our talent, but the draft is over and our offense is certainly better, but still lacks the firepower for other teams to respect our offense.  Since our quarterback position is covered, our line is upgraded and developing, and our roster is so full of tight ends that we should put our roster in the Lingerie Bowl, let’s take a gander at some of the current bargain-bin of remaining NFL free agents:  

WIDE RECEIVERS:

Terrell Owens:

Well, T.O. went to Buffalo and didn’t blow up too badly.  At 36, the guy is pretty worn down.  In 2009, he only caught five touchdowns, had his lowest yards-per-catch since catching passes from Jeff Garcia in San Francisco in 2003, and failed to break the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in four years.  Admittedly he played on the Buffalo "Kills to Watch How Bad We Are" Bills, which certainly hurt his stats.  Suprisingly he didn’t create too much off-the-field attention, but seems poised to look for a Super Bowl contender.  The odds of him agreeing to come to St. Louis, plus his huge drop in performance (as well as likely a fairly high salary), indicates almost no likelihood of him wanting to join us, or us wanting him.

Kevin Curtis:

Oh Kevin Curtis, how far you have come!  Remember when you tricked us into thinking you were a pretty good-but-not-great receiver so that you could leave the Show-Me State, then unleashed a monster season in Philadelphia the next year?

At one point, with Kevin Curtis and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Rams roster held the two highest ever verified scores on the Wonderlic Test.  Now that brain might be all that is left.  Since his 1,100 yard breakout in 2007, his numbers have dive-bombed.  He only started 8 games in 2008 and 1 game in 2009, due to extensive injuries in both seasons and the depth of the Eagles wide receiving corp.  At 31, he is four years elder the man we once had.  I think he certainly still has some play left in him, even with all of the surgeries he looks to recover from, but the real question is: do we need another not-so-speedy slot guy?

Javon Walker:

This guy spotlighted the great holdout war.  After his nearly 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2004, he held out for a new contract in Green Bay, only to suffer a season-ending injury in his first game of the season.

The man is physical force.  He is listed at 6’ 3" and 215lbs.  He’s an absolute letdown on the field nonetheless.  For years now, teams have kept him on their rosters with fond memories of his glory days.  Yet after his remarkable comeback season for the 2006 Broncos, he has experienced rapid decreases in statistical output.  He has less than 500 yards receiving over the course of the past 3 years, and only played (he never started) in 3 games in 2009 for the Raiders.  It’s not like the Raiders have much talent at receive either. 

Running Backs:

Once again, we’re looking at a plethora of old, injured men longing for another chance to play professional football. 

Brian Westbrook:

Rumors at the beginning of the summer had Brian Westbrook portrayed as heavily interested in playing for the Rams and going so far as to undergo a physical, which he passed.  The guy has suffered more head trauma than the average NFL player or professional boxer, and has a penchant for injury.  Yet when he has played, even through all of the injuries, he has been a dynamic running and receiving threat in the vein of Marshall Faulk.  Even since his step has slowed down, he could certainly offer a threat to take some pressure off of Steven Jackson and provide a reliable weapon for Bradford. 

Even though he is 30, I could see the Rams taking a shot on him for a season then drafting someone next year.  The biggest problem is that he may simply not want to come to the Rams.  Apparently Westbrook wants to play on a team capable of winning, and the real question is: How does the Rams’ outlook appear to Westbrook?  The answer is, not good.

LenDale White:

White provides a couple of interesting perks.  He is fairly young at 25, and has experienced recent success with limited injuries.  His 2007 and 2008 seasons were remarkably solid and he has little problem playing behind a running back so long as he gets a moderate amount of carries, despite being a diva.  In 2009, with Chris Johnson experiencing one of the greatest seasons ever for a running back, White took the back seat, but certainly was not benched for being terrible.

White isn’t a dynamic player or even much different from Jackson.  Rather he could merely help spell Jackson when need be, which is the ultimate purpose of acquiring a running back at this point.  There are two crucial areas of concern on this kid, however: (1) He is lazy.  Albert Haynesworth Jr., minus the phenomenal talent.  Only in his contract year did he decide to throw tequila out of his diet and lose some of his flab, and the coaches would have to lead him by a stick and a Big Mac if they want him to excel.  (2) He apparently has something in common with Ricky Williams, besides being a running back that is.  Consequentially he will be suspended for the first four games of the season.  Worth it?  Probably not.

Justin Fargas:

Fargas is better than his numbers indicate in my opinion.  First, he has played on the Raiders.  That in itself means less scoring and less yards, not that his numbers have been particularly bad with about 2300 YFS in the past 3 season.  He just hit the magical age of 30, when the running back gods have cursed professional footballers to brittle bones and less fast in the fast-twitch fibers, but he hasn’t carried the ball too much in his years.  He also has experience as a primary back in 2007 and to a lesser degree in 2008.  He can catch the ball a bit as well, with 50 catches in 40 games in the past 3 seasons.  The guy is old and not a stud, but certainly not broken and can play his role.  In my opinion this is the guy we want to put our money towards.

 

Do you think we should check out one of these free agents, someone else, or none of them?

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