At the conclusion of every NFL season, every insider and every blogger will give an extensive list of potential high-paying free agents that the team can bring to elevate the team to Super Bowl status. They say how signing a guard to 4 year contract for big money will solve all the teams problems. Or how signing a ball-hawking safety will create a turnover machine of a defense. Sign this kick-returner and the offense will explode. Sure, there are some hits when teams open their wallets and do that, like Cortland Finnegan or Harvey Dahl, or certain players can't play and waste team growth and the salary cap, like Jason Brown or Drew Bennett. That method does not work in the NFL. Just look at the Green Bay Packers and what they have accomplished by avoiding to sign the big free-agent ticket every season. Look at the Patriots, look at the Giants, look at any Super Bowl-caliber team. They build through the draft.
Take the 2011 Rams for example. After the successful 2010 season, Steve Spagnuolo and Bilyl Devaney believed that through a lot of veteran free agents, this team could make the push to become a playoff team for the first time since 2006. Signing players like Mike Sims-Walker, Cadillac Williams, Jerious Norwood, Ben Leber, Al Harris, and Justin Bannan hurt the team in more ways than one. The Rams' draft picks of that year? Robert Quinn had to sit behind James Hall all year, Lance Kendricks was behind awful Billy Bajema all season, Austin Pettis barely had a chance to play behind mediocre players at his position. The 5 other players drafted aren't even here now. The Rams were awful and finished 2-14 and canned Spags and Devaney.
With the hiring of Jeff Fisher and Les Snead, the direction of the Rams would be created from the youth movement and from the draft. Sure, the Rams signed a few pricy free agents but these were proven players that were talented and had the ability to teach others. Cortland Finnegan has taught Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson the position while being a leader of the defense. Scott Wells was a proven Pro Bowler who was brought to help Sam Bradford and the O-Line. Kendall Langford was brought in to help anchor the middle of the defensive line with rookie Michael Brockers.
Fisher & Snead have come in and created a foundation with their youth and talent to become a true contendor in the NFL, to no longer be the same old sorry Rams of years past.
Look at all the youth in the Rams roster for 2013 & the Future:
QB Sam Bradford - (next season) 4th year; signed through 2015
RB Isaiah Pead - 2nd year; signed through 2015
RB Daryl Richardson - 2nd year; signed through 2015
WR Brian Quick - 2nd year; signed through 2015
WR Chris Givens - 2nd year, signed through 2015
WR Austin Pettis - 3rd year, signed through 2014
TE Lance Kendricks - 3rd year, signed through 2014
LT Rodger Saffold - 4th year, signed through 2013
G Rok Watkins - 2nd year, signed through 2015
DE Chris Long - 6th year, signed through 2017
DE Robert Quinn - 3rd year, signed through 2015
DE Eugene Sims - 4th year, signed through 2013
DT Kendall Langford - 6th year, signed through 2015
DT Michael Brockers - 2nd year, signed through 2015
LB James Laurinaitis - 5th year, signed through 2017
LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar - 6th year, signed through 2013
CB Janoris Jenkins - 2nd year, signed through 2015
CB Trumaine Johnson - 2nd year, signed through 2015
PK Greg Zuerlein - 2nd year, signed through 2015
P John Hekker - 2nd year, signed through 2014
Don't forget some of the young players who have potential or have a certain role with the team:
The message for this current offseason is to resign the team's own free agents such as Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, who would be entering his 4th year, William Hayes (6th), Bradley Fletcher maybe (5th), Jermelle Cudjo (4th), Brandon Gibson (5th), Rob Turner (6th), Darian Stewart (4th), or Barry Richardson (6th). The next step would be to built the rest of the roster through the draft with the remaining needs for the team to fill.
That is what this new regime is building from: all this youth that his team has and through the draft and resigning players they can rise up the ranks and become a true contender in the NFL. The Rams won't build this team with many high priced agents like years past. They will draft and develop talent and resign that talent, like already resigning James Laurinaitis and Chris Long, and have great coaching to teach these players to become a great team. Sure, a certain free agent may be brought in with a price tag but nothing like before.
So next time, when a fan will think that Andy Levitre, Jairus Byrd, Jeremy Maclin, Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, and Dustin Keller will all be wearing Rams jerseys next season, they will be completely incorrect.