Today I wanted to take a look at some upcoming NFL free agents that may interest the St. Louis Rams. During the last offseason, the Rams were very aggressive in FA bringing in two top players: Quintin Mikell and Harvey Dahl. Time will tell if they will be as aggressive in this upcoming offseason, but it seems like they might be limited. In one of Ryan's interviews with Rams' COO Kevin Demoff, the Rams' COO explained the team's cap situation for next season:
Our salary cap through 2012 is somewhat constricted because we had very high draft picks in 2008-2010. When you factor in those contracts, they account for nearly 32% of our salary cap, which means the remaining 50 players, IR and practice squad and cuts have to fit in the rest of the 68%. Factor in Steven Jackson and that number jumps to roughly 40%.
So it seems like the Rams will be somewhat restricted, but maybe not. Room could be made by releasing or restructuring the contract of some of the very overpaid players on the team such as Jason Brown, James Butler and Jason Smith.
After the jump, I will give a list of some of the top FAs that the Rams might target, if they have the cap room.
WR- The Rams need playermakers at WR in the worst way. The WRs in STL are among the worst in the league. A huge upgrade is needed and I think FA might be a good route to go as I really don't like the WR draft class.
Brandon Lloyd- The Rams will want to resign Lloyd for sure. He is playing very well for this team, and at this point, he is the only true playmaker. The question is, will he demand too much money for the Rams to stay in the game? This likely will be his last contract, so he will want to maximize the value to the fullest extent.
Danny Amendola- Sadly for the Rams, Danny is out for the year. They could have really used him and his reliability in the offense this year. Signing a guy coming off an injury is always risky, but Danny will come at a very reasonable price and I fully expect him to resign.
Vincent Jackson- Two years ago the Rams expressed a great interest in picking up Jackson. They actually had a contract deal worked out with the Pro Bowl WR, but the Chargers than raised their trade demands and the Rams pulled out. At age 28, he still has many great productive years to go, and if he doesn't resign with the Chargers, he will be a hot commodity come spring.
DeSean Jackson- Before the season, I said there was no way he will hit the market. The Eagles will just franchise him, but after this season, with all the drops and behavioral problems, it seems he will get to FA. He would certainly bring the speed factor the Rams have been missing on this offense. The question is, would he be worth the trouble and the money?
Carl Nicks- Nicks is one of the best guards in football. I don't see a way he leaves the Saints and even if he does, I don't think the Rams will have the money. He could become on the highest paid guards ever.
Ben Grubbs- He is just a step below Nicks in ability in my opinion. Many think the Ravens won't let him go, but they also have to deal with Ray Rice's free agency, so maybe Grubbs falls through the cracks and hits the market. The Rams would be smart to add him to replace Bell if the price is right.
Brent Grimes- I don't see him leaving the Falcons, but if he did, the little corner would be a great addition to the Rams. He might not be as physical as other corners, but he can cover better than the majority of them.
Cortland Finnegan- He is known as one of the dirtier players in the league and for good reason. He famously got into a fight with Andre Johnson on the field. Putting all the antics aside, he is a top ten cornerback in the NFL. Again most likely he is back with the Titans, but would be a great addition.
Dan Connor- He has been the fourth LB in Carolina this year, but is now starting since Jon Beason went out. This guy can play very well and the Panthers can't afford to pay him starting money to not start. He plays ILB with the Panthers, but I think he could easily transition to SLB in the Rams defense.
These are just some of the top level guys I think the Rams should take a look at. Again, it's very likely that the majority of these players won't ever see the market and that the Rams simply won't have the funds. There is a long time between now and free agency. I just wanted to get the conversation going.