The St. Louis Rams are talking to three of their unrestricted free agents in hopes of potentially finding a suitable deal to keep them around in 2012. According to the Post-Dispatch, the Rams have been talking with guard Jacob Bell, linebacker Chris Chamberlain and punter Donnie Jones.
To what degree of interest the Rams are conducting these talks is unclear, but each player presents something of an interesting case for a return in 2012.
Head coach Jeff Fisher obviously knows Bell from their days together in Tennessee. Fisher and his staff appear to be a good fit for providing Bell a little extra motivation, something he has seemingly lacked during his time with the Rams. However, Fisher's Titans were willing to let Bell walk in free agency rather than paying him big bucks in 2008.
I cannot believe that they would be willing to hand over big dollars for Bell this year. The PD story notes that the staff felt like Bell played better down the stretch, before being injured, pointing to the New Orleans game. The stats tell a different story.
According to the stats from Pro Football Focus, the last time Bell graded positively last season was against the Packers in Week 6. The Saints game was one of Bell's worst, according to PFF. He graded out as a -5.1 in that game. Bell finished the season with a -15.8 overall. He was better in 2010, finishing with a 4.6 grade.
Chamberlain played better than expected on the weakside. He graded out overall with a 3.6 mark from PFF, second only to James Laurinaitis. His numbers won't blow anyone away, but he was consistently positive against the run. In coverage, Chamberlain did well, but struggled against Vernon Davis ... as did most linebackers assigned to cover him.
We talked about Donnie Jones earlier this week. The PD story reveals that the Rams almost used the transition tag to keep Jones, but opted against it.
Jones dealt with injuries last season, but if he can satisfy the team about his health, he might be worth bringing back. But at what cost? Last year, he made $1.1 million. With cap space tight, they could probably find a replacement cheaper.
As for the rest of the Rams free agents, there really is much worth keeping. I wonder if Fisher's crew will take a passing interest in keeping Rod Hood around for a fifth corner, but beyond that it's slim pickens.