Though we're still waiting on clarification as to when the 2011 NFL season will begin, it's not too soon to start thinking about potential NFL free agents, especially free agents that could impact the St. Louis Rams roster in 2011. Too soon? Of course, it's not too soon. NFL free agency was supposed to start back in March. We're only two months behind here.
When and if the league year does start, it's widely believed that it will be operating under the same no-cap rules that governed free agency in 2010. That means unrestricted free agents need to have accrued 6 seasons of experience. And that essentially means another small free, unglamorous free agent class. Jason LaCanfora has kindly compiled a handy list of all the players scheduled for free agency under these rules.
Running backs seems to be the highest priority for the Rams. Billy Devaney has continued to insure us that the team will find a solution to backup Jackson this year, or share time with him. Failing to have filled that need in the draft, free agency could be key. Unfortunately, it's a pretty slim list.
Ronnie Brown is one name that has already been mentioned, Brown having been coveted by McDaniels' old boss. At 29-years-old, Brown isn't a feature guy anymore, obviously. He could still be useful for a team like the Rams. Darren Sproles would be another option, though a different variety. After that, the list gets a little thin. Cadillac Williams is one option, but he seems to be mostly a third-down back.
There are plenty of safeties to be had, most of them fitting the Spags' profile of effective, if unspectacular. Quinten Mikel would be the top option for the Rams, and he does come from Philly.
Another likely position for Devaney to fill via free agency is outside linebacker. One name of note on this list is Carolina's Thomas Davis. He has an injury history, but also has a connection to Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole, his former position coach.
Once the league year starts, this list is likely to change significantly as players get cut, restricted free agent tenders get rescinded, etc. However, the league year doesn't start until late June or even early July, it could have a dramatic effect on the free agent market as team would be much less likely to cut or sign players who they don't have to bring up to speed in a matter of weeks.