The future begins now for the St. Louis Rams. Yes, they still have the slimmest of slim playoff hopes left this season. But why torture ourselves worrying about the playoffs, when the Rams have important roster decisions facing them during the off-season.
These roster decisions will define the future of the Rams, and where they will head during free agency and the draft. Last season the roster was loaded with backup players who lost their jobs, but this time it could be starters. So don't be surprised if these 6 players are off the team, or have a different role.
1. Steven Jackson- 227 rushing attempts, 909 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns
Jackson has been the heart and soul of the Rams for years. In his last game against the Vikings, he rushed for 73 yards on 13 carries, and also passed the 10,000-rushing yards milestone. Jackson's issue is that he'll be on the wrong side of 30, although he played better as the season went on.
Should Jackson remain a Ram? It will most likely come down to him taking a smaller contract.
2. Rodger Saffold- this season overall grade by PFF 3.9, pass blocking grade 8.8, run blocking -3.3
Don't worry, the Rams current left tackle won't be a free agent next season, but he might not be the Rams left tackle next season. Last week Saffold was on the losing end of a battle with Jared Allen, but he's been consistently solid. The last season and this season he has missed significant time because of injuries. The injuries have been different, but the Rams can't be too confident that he can last a full 16 game season.
What should the Rams do with Saffold? Saffold is a pretty good left tackle, if it wasn't for the injury issues, there wouldn't be a problem. Still, if the Rams grade another left tackle high in the draft and decide to draft him, expect Saffold to either battle for his position or play right tackle.
3. Danny Amendola 57 receptions, 634 yards, 3 touchdowns
Danny is not only a fan favorite, he's also a damn good player. He's been called a Wes Welker clone and while that's not a bad comparison, it's unfair to Danny. He's the best player on the Rams, and dare I say it, a top 15 wide receiver if healthy. He's a consistent target that doesn't drop balls and has a knack for getting open. The main reason he doesn't get much recognition is the fact that he's a slot receiver.
Should the Rams re-sign Danny Amendola? Yes, at the right price. If Amendola could stay healthy for at least 13 games a season I would say pay the man! Give him everything, but the kitchen sink. But he hasn't shown us that. Hopefully he takes a team friendly contract or they could franchise tag him and let him prove that he can stay healthy.
4. Robert Turner- this season overall grade by PFF -1.8, run blocking -6.4, pass blocking 5.6
For much of the season Turner was filling in for the injured Scott Wells, and he was doing it pretty well. He's struggled somewhat in his new position at left guard. He's not a guy who will out-muscle a defensive tackle, but he is a pretty good pass blocker. What concerns me is that I don't think he's a good enough run blocker to be a good guard.
Should the Rams re-sign Robert Turner Yes, bring him back, but as a backup. If the Rams hadn't signed Wells last year I would say he should be the starting center, but the Rams would be happy to have him as depth.
5. Brandon Gibson 2012 Stats: 46 receptions, 613 yards, 5 touchdowns
Besides Sam Bradford, Gibson is the player that Ram fans either hate or love. Most of the hate comes from Gibson's disappointing season last year, when there were hopes that he would be the Rams number one target or something close to it. That season Gibson only had 431 yards and 1 touchdown, with numerous drops, not exactly a hall of fame season. This year, Gibson has 613 yards, and is coming off two solid games in the past two weeks.
Should the Rams re-sign Brandon Gibson? Yes, he's a solid player, that should get you around 5 catches a game. Health hasn't been Gibson's issue, but separation and drops have. I think Gibson will be a good compliment to another wide receiver. While that means he's not a number one, I think he will have a place here.
6. Lance Kendricks- 35 receptions, 367 yards, 3 touchdowns
Last season, the Rams hoped that they found the next superstar at tight end. So far, it's looked like they have the one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. Although that's an unappreciated gift for NFL offenses, the team obviously had higher expectations for his receiving skills. Kendricks' best game receiving was an 40 yard game week 6, against the Dolphins.
What should the Rams do with Kendricks? The Rams have to look for a receiving option at tight end over the off-season. I don't know if Kendricks will be an all-star tight end, but if the Rams can grab a free agent that can be a good target in the passing game they should get him for two years, and hope that Kendricks will become that guy in the future.
Or they could draft a tight end to go along with Kendricks. This doesn't mean that the Rams have to give up on Kendricks, but if he does develop the Rams will be that much better.