When you finish 7-9, there's bound to be a few disappointments on the roster. The St. Louis Rams had their share of injury troubles, rookies behind the learning curve, etc., but when well-paid veterans are underperforming, it generally leads to problems for the team ... and the Rams had that too.
Two players, both signed as free agents since 2012, made the 2013 all-disappointment team over at SB Nation, one as a starter and one as an alternate.
Cortland Finnegan, CB - dishonorable mention
Cortland Finnegan, Rams (a disaster from the get-go who helped the Rams' secondary get ripped despite a ferocious pass rush)
Injury shortened his season, but in the few games he did play, he was a welcome site for opposing QBs, who had a 136 QB rating against him and completed more than 76 percent of the passes thrown at him. What really made his season such a disappointment is the fact that he's the fourth-highest paid cornerback in the NFL right now, in terms of total contract value, five-years, $50 million. Only Brandon Carr has more guaranteed money in his contract ($25.5 versus $24 million).
The Rams cut him next year, which seems like a near certainty from a purely logical perspective, they would save $4 million in cap space. Then again, will they?
Jared Cook, TE - first team
We should have been warned when he got hyped by the connections-rich and acumen-poor Peter King in the offseason. Cook came out of the gates strong with 141 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, but in the season's remaining 15 games, he notched a pedestrian 44/530/3 line with an anemic 7.1 yards per attempt. Factor in his substandard blocking and this probably wasn't the return the Rams were looking for in the first year of a $35 million deal.
I was a little surprised by Bernie Miklasz's take on Cook over at STLToday, who excused Cook's poor performance this season as blip, something that would get better in 2014.
The biggest problem is that he overlooks Cook's history. Over five seasons in the NFL, Cook's had the same problems playing against physical coverage, disappearing for long stretches and offering little in the way of blocking. And you can write off his blocking; that's not why you pay a tight end $35 million.
To me, the QB change shouldn't have really been an issue either, like Bernie suggests. In fact, there wasn't a noticeable difference in Cook's play with either Bradford or Clemens in the lineup. When you factor out Cook's 140-yard performance in Week 1, he was actually a little more productive with Clemens (13 yards per catch vs. 10.7 yards per catch with Bradford) in the lineup on a game-by-game basis.
There are also the dropped passes, which Bernie does mention.
All of that misses the larger point. Cook's the fifth-highest paid tight end in the NFL right now (only Gronkowski, Gates, Witten and Davis have a higher total contract value). Cook's guaranteed money exceeds any other tight end.
Cook's production isolated is fine. The Rams don't necessarily need him to be a 1,000-yard type guy. But it's out of whack with his salary, a poor decision on resource allocation. They could have found a cheaper free agent option or something similar in the draft without soaking up that much cap space. His cap number in 2014 is $7 million and goes up to $8 million in each of the last three years (2015 thru 2017), and the deal is structured so that they can't effectively cut ties until after 2015.