The St. Louis Rams are auditioning some more safety help this week. Veteran safety Sherrod Martin is coming to town on Monday for a visit with the team, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and Fox Sports.
Martin was the Carolina Panthers' second-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent the last four seasons in Carolina, starting 36 of 59 games. Martin shifted back and forth from safety to corner during his time with the Panthers. Last season, he lost his starting gig, but played in 12 games before tearing his ACL and MCL.
Free safety is Martin's primary position. Coverage is his specialty, and his struggles against the run are part of the reason he lost the starting job. He has a total of 20 pass breakups through his career so far. He finished with three last season, and 23 tackles, in part-time duty. He has seven career interceptions.
Safety is the one position on the roster where the Rams are currently a little thin. The team drafted USC safety T.J. McDonald in the third round of this year's draft. McDonald is a hard hitter, but he looks mostly to be a strong safety, someone playing closer to the line rather than hanging back in coverage. The Rams have said that the safeties will be mostly interchangeable, but that sounds more like a talking point when you look at the depth chart at that position.
Martin would give the Rams a better option for the free safety spot. Currently, Darian Stewart is the early favorite to land that role. Stewart, an undrafted free agent from the Devaney era, played just 82 snaps last season.
Cap space is limited for the Rams this year and next. Martin, if he's healthy, could be an inexpensive way to beef up the position. Clearing up the picture at safety is key for the Rams. It's the one suspect spot on an otherwise talented defense.
For more on Martin, I turned to Jame Dator at Cat Scratch Reader for a quickie scouting report:
Martin was drafted by Carolina in their 'lets just take DBs' phase of their drafting plans. It involved taking ball-hawking cornerbacks, and transitioning them to play safety.
The biggest disservice they did was not concentrating on making him either a strong, or free safety -- at a time when there was a clear difference in Carolina between the two roles.
As such, he rotated a lot, and looked lost.
Martin's biggest issue is a complete lack of ability as a tackler. He's a zero in this regard. However, he had pretty good ball skills -- and plays it well in the air, showing good body control to stay on receiver's hips.
I advocated that the Panthers would have been best served by moving him back to corner, rather than banging their head at safety.
Martin was injured last year, and that paired with his unreliable tackling (which Rivera detests) was enough to push him out.