2013 NFL free agents: Dolphins driving for Brandon Gibson

Rick Stewart

Miami is very interested in signing Rams free agent receiver Brandon Gibson, and they could be paying him handsomely.

Okay, St. Louis Rams fans, you've seen Brandon Gibson here for four seasons. He's a free agent now, and likely to leave town amid a thin market for receivers. Let me ask you this question: how much would you pay for Brandon Gibson as a free agent?

The Miami Dolphins think highly of him, enough that they could be willing to pay him $6 million a year, a rate comparable with that of the recently re-signed Brian Hartline, according to a report from the Miami Herald. Little wonder why the Rams aren't bringing Gibson back this season.

Gibson posted career-highs last year, part of a trio of receivers that topped the 600-yard mark for the Rams. Perfect timing, but was that a glimpse at his ceiling or a tease of what could be? Rams fans have been asking that question every year, weekly almost, since he first joined the Rams in 2009. His first game in a Rams uniform was a seven-catch, 93-yard outing when the hapless Marc Bulger-led Rams nearly upset the Saints.

What's Gibson's value? After four seasons, it's been fairly obvious in St. Louis that he has limitations creating separation with defensive backs. He was good for getting first downs last season, but never emerged as a possession receiver that can be a quarterback's go-to guy.

Was that a product of the Rams poor offensive balance? Iffy quarterback play? A bad offensive line?

Some team, which right now looks to be the Dolphins, is set to bank on Gibson as a No. 2 receiver. For that kind of money, he and Hartline would be the clear first and second options on top of the depth chart, which still leaves them without a bona fide No. 1 receiver. But, hey, this isn't a Dolphins blog, so they can do whatever they want. We'll wish Gibson all the best.

Needless to say, he's not coming back to the Rams, not at that price.

And if Gibson is capable of drawing that kind of interest on the market, Danny Amendola is as good as gone too, lured away by numbers sure to exceed $6 million per year in a thin receiver market.

As for how the Rams replace those two, look no further than Brian Quick and Chris Givens. The second-year receivers will be expected to play a larger role in the offense, getting the majority of the snaps at the receiver position, along with whoever they find, in-house or outside, to replace Amendola as a slot guy.

Does that leave you concerned at all?

Suddenly tight end comes into play. The Rams might be able to add another hand, or pair of them (GET IT!) to the offense by targeting a keen tight end to pair with Lance Kendricks. Looking for a weapon at that position would be cheaper than signing one of the quality free agent receivers. Jared Cook could be seeking $6 million per year. But, hell, even Dustin Keller could be a cheaper, less dynamic option to give Bradford another player to lean on.

I also wouldn't rule out the Rams finding a receiver or tight end with one of their first three picks in the draft. A rookie wouldn't eat into snaps for Quick or Givens, unless he can outplay either one of those guys. Given the price of receivers on the free agent market, finding cost controlled quality at the position in the draft could save the Rams a lot of money down the road.

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