This is a very important offseason for the St. Louis Rams, and I will look at and asses what the Rams should do before Free Agency & the Draft in April.
1. The Rams must bring back Steven Jackson & Danny Amendola
- I can't imagine a Rams team without Danny & SJ39. SJ39 is not a free agent but can void the final year in his contract. The Rams must not create another hole for this team and bringing back the team MVP is critical. A cap-friendly deal that would give Jackson more years is fine with me because I don't believe Pead/Richardson/Ganaway can carry the load for the running backs. Amendola is a interesting situation. He was set up to big money after the beginning of this season before he injured his collarbone but returned and made an impact. The Rams have to be careful with the years and money but bringing back Danny is also critical for this offense to evolve to the next level.
2. See if Quintin Mikell would restructure his deal
- The Rams clearly have a need for a bigger safety with good coverage skills. Fans were quick to criticize Mikell for his inability to do that but that is not the kind of safety that he is. He is a great in-the-box safety. He is a great blitzer and run-supporter. Since he was brought in by a previous regime and has such a huge cap hit, they may just end up releasing him but I would rather see management see if he would restructure his current contract in order to give more money out to other players. I would not be totally saddened if the sides can't figure something and he is released but the Rams run-defense and league-leading pass rush was clearly better with Mikell around the line of scrimmage. I would like to see him back.
- William Hayes didn't even make a million dollars this season but may have been the biggest bargain in the NFL. His prowess on the defensive line, his emotion, and his 7 sacks left a mark on the team. Hayes may leave for more money but I would really want to bring him back without overpaying. Brandon Gibson is in the same boat. He stepped up in some games and finished the season with 51 catches for 691 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is not a #1 or even a #2 receiver but is a very solid option after that. If someone is brought in to be the #1, with Quick/Givens at #2, and Danny at the slot, Gibson becomes maybe the best 4th/5th receiver in the league. I would want him back for the right price.
- Rob Turner was a bargain, being how he held down the fort without Scott Wells during the time of his injury and was very versatile and showed leadership qualities. He was less effective at LG but is still a valuable commodity to this O-line as a guy who can fill in anywhere. I'm sure it would not take much to bring him back. For how awful Barry Richardson was in 2011, he was decent in 2012. He did not get injured or lose his job during the season. Heck, he was the only O-lineman to play and start at the same spot for 16 games. While I'm not a fan of him starting again, he would a nice option at being a backup tackle along with Wayne Hunter. Jermelle Cudjo was one of the most unheralded Rams in 2012, he was the starter and 3rd DT for most of the season and down the stretch became a valuable member of the D-line. He is not a stats guy but was very good at times. It probably won't cost a lot for him to return also even if a 3rd DT is brought in.
- Bradley Fletcher was considered a real riser in the NFL heading into 2011 but another injury derailed those ideas and when the guy who drafted him was fired he was on thin ice. He started the season as the 3rd corner and was effective at times but was not good overall which got him replaced by Trumaine Johnson. I give him credit for being healthy the whole season but he just came off a second torn ACL. If he returns, he comes back as the 4th corner but he is still young and with his starting experience he can come in for Jenkins or Johnson at any time. Kellen Clemens is a back up QB. I mean, he didn't cost much to begin with and wouldn't cost much to come back. He knows the system and would be a decent backup. Darian Stewart didn't make a great impression to Coach Fisher as he was hurt early in the season. He is, however, a hard hitting and tough safety who is solid on ST. He is a younger version of Quintin Mikell and hopefully be brought back for not a lot. Rocky McIntosh was better than I thought in 2012, and was usually strong in run support during the season. He is a solid tackler and respected veteran. He is an aging veteran so he may not be brought back but he was solid this season but a younger replacement should be brought in.
- These 3 were not huge parts of the team but could be back in camp to see if they can contribute on ST.
7. Do not resign Steve Smith and Craig Dahl
- I think this is obvious. I don't even have to explain it.
Thanks for reading! Go Rams!