Free agency was looking boring after the Rams signed Quintin Mikell; then the Rams surprised everyone by signing Mike Sims-Walker to a one-year contract. It seemed like the Rams would be okay with the guys they had on the roster, and the assumed forthcoming Mark Clayton re-signing. The Rams later said that Mark Clayton knee wasn't fully healed. The move to sign Mike Sims-Walker, with that in mind, made more sense.
I won't lie -- I was not a fan of the move. To me, adding him to the roster was like throwing away a receiver with potential. Then, I came to a big revelation. This could be the smartest move the Rams have made all free agency.
So after the jump, I will talk about why I wasn't happy about the move, and why it makes perfect sense.
The Criticism: For a player who is pegged to be a potential number one receiver, his stats don't reflect it. He was injured for his entire rookie season. In his sophomore season, he recorded 16 catches in 9 games. Okay, first season playing in the NFL, that is understandable. In 2009, Mike teamed with Torry Holt, and had his best season finishing with 63 catches, and 869 yards. Then last season, while battling a high ankle injury, Mike registered, 43 receptions, and 562 yards.
The most important thing that stuck out to me, was the fact that the Jaguars let him go. If he's such a good player, why cut him if you have questions on who will replace him?
Here are two quotes from Brian Levenson at Big Cat Country.
[His suitors] won't realize that [Sims-Walker] has the tendency to disappear in games, or that he struggles at times holding on to the ball, they'll just see a receiver with good physical talent and want him.
In 2010, he was playing through an ankle injury. Ok, that's all fine and good, but he still only had two great games. 10 for 105 mostly in garbage time against the Chargers and 8 for 153 against Dallas who were just an absolutely terrible team at that point in the season. Remove those two games and Sims-Walker made 25 catches for 304 yards over 12 games. Most importantly, in his four year career, MSW has 1,648 yards. I don't want to pay Sims-Walker to be a number one receiver.
Now, the Rams aren't paying Mike Sims-Walker number one receiver money. But, what if he has a great year? The Rams will have to pay a lot of money to keep him. Wouldn't it make more sense to give him a 2 or 3 year deal just in case?
Yes, Mike did have a 800-yard season, but he had a good wide receiver and a good tight end helping him . Basically, what we get in Mike is more potential at wide receiver. That is a good thing, but don't the Rams already have a boatload of potential in our wide receivers?
You can make excuses for him. You can say David Gerrard isn't a Sam Bradford, and that is true. But let's not make it seem like Gerrard is a horrible QB. You can say the injures slowed him down. I would agree to that, but the Rams already have injury prone guys. Why bring in another?
Also, for all the flak Brandon Gibson gets, it's easy to forget that he was a 2nd-year player last season. He went from practice squad, to a starting lineup -- that's not very easy to do. You might say Mike can be a number one based on 2009 stats, but what about Gibson's 2010 stats: 620 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Not bad for a 2nd-year receiver right? Also, remember he only played 14 games.
Why the move makes sense: I was in the process of writing a article comparing Mike Sims-Walker and Brandon Gibson, then I started thinking why? I realized that, bringing Mike means anyone could get cut, even him. This is a competition of the best, not on potential, or Tevin's favorite Ram.
After last season, the Rams shouldn't care about the last seasons wide receivers potential; it should be about who will produce with Sam Bradford. Could you blame the team if they cut a player who can't contribute much, but will in a couple of years? Let's not forget the Rams were humiliated on offense in their first prime time game in a long time.
Looking at the position from a distance, you have two rookies and a 2nd round pick that missed all of last season who will be entering his 4th season, but still hasn't proved anything. A player who has a lot of talent, but more surgeries than touchdowns. A slot receiver who has only had one good year. A 4th round pick last year, that the team isn't exactly high on. Then a player who is entering his 3rd season, but was inconsistent last season. Yeah it's more question marks than anything, and everyone has a chance to be a starter.
For all the stats I pulled up on Mike Sims-Walker, I saved the last one for now. Mike has 14 touchdowns combined the last two years. Now lets compare Mike's 2010 season to the Rams, the Rams had five receivers score 10 touchdowns, Mike Sims-Walker had 7 by himself. Wow, and 2010 he played with a high ankle sprain.
The biggest reason why Mike was a great pickup by the Rams is that he is a great insurance policy. The Rams WRs have been known to get injured. It's fun to speculate that this player will do good, but no one knows yet. The last thing the Rams need is a repeat of what happened after Mark Clayton went down.
Does bringing Mike Sims-Walker mean that Sam Bradford finally has a number one receiver? Maybe. But If Mike can be a reliable target, the Rams should be happy and try to re-sign him. But of course, that's a long time from now.
Right now, let's say that Mike Sims-Walker, is a low risk, but high reward signing.