Most of the free agent talk revolves around marquee names, but the St. Louis Rams' most important free agent decisions involve some players that few, outside of the incredibly dedicated Rams fans found here at TST, would recognize. Still, you'd better be apprised of the situation because it involves the Rams offensive line.
Offensive guard was a trouble spot for the Rams this year, particularly the right side where Adam Goldberg struggled against opposing defensive linemen. Most of those struggles came opening running lanes, but pass protection got blown up more than once too. For a short time, the Rams used John Greco in rotation with Goldberg, realizing some degree of success. Greco is a bigger guard who is a stronger run blocker. He ended up inactive most weeks down the stretch because of concerns about his pass blocking and a belief that they needed an available backup center more than guard.
Goldberg is scheduled for unrestricted free agency. Greco is scheduled for restricted free agency. What to do? It would seem that next season's starting right guard is not currently on the roster. The Rams coaches obviously have more faith in Goldberg than they do Greco to start, and given how often they had Greco on the inactive list, keeping him wouldn't seem to be a priority.
New offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will have a big say in the matter. Both players have value. Goldberg would be acceptable as a backup guard, and has been solid as a backup offensive tackle, something the Rams do need. Greco has served well in bits and pieces of playing time, and would have value as a backup guard...but just how many backup guards that don't also snap the ball can the Rams afford to keep? Complicating matters further is that Renardo Foster, a backup tackle who was serviceable filling in for Jason Smith in one game, is also set to be an RFA. Mark Setterstrom, who can play all interior line positions, will be an UFA, but word is that he'll retire having spent far more time on IR than the actual roster throughout his career.
In all likelihood, one of these guys will be around as a backup behind a free agent who'll be the starting RG, or one of them will be around while a player taken in the 2011 NFL Draft learns the ropes.