Feb 24, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher speaks at a press conference during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Perhaps most obvious is that the Rams will be very active in the free agent market. After cuts, and the penalties to the Cowboys and Redskins (the team that keeps on giving), the Rams will have around thirty million to spend. It's not that simple however. Players have to be extended and rookies, while certainly less so than years previous, have to be paid as well. After all the contracts are done, I'm going to go with twenty million as the actual number to spend on free agents, assuming longer deals at lesser annual value for current players.
Sorry for the pun (not really). It was a busy day at Rams Park, with many players being cut. Amongst the casualties were Ron Bartell, Jason Brown, Justin Bannan, Fred Robbins, Nick Miller, and James Hall. There are many things we can derive from these cuts.
So what to make of today's cuts? Well, for one the defensive line is absolutely decimated. I have to think Fisher has a "smile and a wink" agreement with Jason Jones. I don't see much more out there for free agent defensive tackles that will fit the remaining money. To me, this screams Brockers as the first round pick. Jeff Fisher will not go into an NFL season without a line he feels he can count on. The good news is, that's a very solid defensive line, with Chris Long and Robert Quinn returning.
The Bartell cut was equally interesting. I'm going with the same as above, I have to believe there is an agreement between Fisher and Cortland Finnegan. While many think Bartell is washed up, and I believe he should retire, the last time he played he was an above average cover corner. He is not a player you just cut unless you have alternate plans. This cut was equally intriguing because the front office has to know that Claiborne will most likely not be there with the sixth pick. You don't cut Bartell unless you are certain of getting Claiborne (which they cannot possibly be, unless an unlikely trade up occurs) or you know Finnegan will be a Ram. If I remember, his talks with the Titans came to a rather abrupt end when Fisher accepted the Rams position.
This also signals that the first round pick will not be Justin Blackmon. You've probably noticed that the skill positions haven't been touched yet. I read that as they are ok with what they have at the skill positions, and aren't necessarily concerned about them...yet. With what I've outlined above, you have a really solid defensive line, a solid MLB, and a solid secondary, presuming Fletcher comes back. Everything Fisher covets.
Let's make sure to notice that Jason Smith has not been cut. This is particularly important because it would have allowed for even more cap room. I understand that it would be a cap hit the next year, but with these cheaper (relatively) draft picks in the future, it's not such a worry. The staff must feel that he has something to offer. I find it impossible to believe that all the scouts, not only in St. Louis, but in the entire NFL were wrong, and he simply can't do it. I'm going out on a limb here and guess that Fisher feels the same way. It ties into Fisher's history of not drafting an offensive lineman in the first round. He doesn't have to. He can coach them up.
Honestly, I hope Jeff Fisher can pull a defensive tackle out of his sleeve and take Richardson at six, rather than Brockers. Give the Rams the best running game in the league. Grab a couple offensive lineman in the second to fill in at center and guard (there will be guys available).
The receivers we have will be fine if Sam has time to throw. Austin Pettis and Greg Salas were not terrible picks, nor was Lance Kendricks. Look at their college careers. They didn't suddenly get terrible when they hit the NFL. They were rookies. Very effective blocking rookies, I might add. Don't underestimate that in this new offense. Let's give them a chance. If wide receiver is indeed a huge need, we can address that in 2013 and 2014 with our two number one draft picks. Who knows, maybe another megatron will show up, and the St. Louis Rams have the juice to go get him.