This was just something I was thinking about the other day and wondering what your opinions were.
We all know that drafting is not a science (insert any big name draft bust), but we also know that free agency is hardly a science either (insert failed big-ticket free agency signing). The quote Les Snead, the rams have a nice piece of real-estate in this years draft. They also have some cap room. Given that they still need money to sign the draft-class, there is really not a whole lot the front office can do in free agency, maybe one big-ticket free agent or a couple middle of the road ones. I am personally of the opinion that we should go for the middle of the road free agent signings, for a couple of reasons.
1) Its quite possible that our "big-ticket" free-agent signing will not pan out. Two of the Rams most recent big signings have not indeed preformed like we had hope. Finnegan has been cut, blame it on injury or whatever. Jared Cook appears to be just what he was for the Titans. A big TE who does not appear to like to block, and does not have reliable hands. I do not have stats to back up the Cook comments, but that is the feeling I got from watching the Rams games this past year.
2) This one has definitely been covered before, but two of our best free agent signings, were not the most newsworthy. William Hayes has been arguably our best free agent signing, and Dunbar played pretty well for us in 2012, and so-so in 2013. Both guys didnt come with a lot of fan fair, but they were guys that the coaches knew (then Greg Williams got canned, but I digress).
3) We are gonna have to dish out some money for our own in-house free agents in a couple of years, and having money tied to a potentially under-performing big name veteran will not be a good use of those resources.
So here are some of the guys I think we should take a flyer on.
Michael Oher - I mentioned him in a post before but I shall repeat my logic. Roger Saffold appears like he will be gone to a team wanting to pay him big LT money, when really he did quite well at Guard and should likely be his primary position. Insert Michael Oher, big name guy, play hasnt been quite as good. In fact he was ranked quite low by PFF for his play at tackle, but Walter football has him as his 8th best tackle, whatever thats worth.
So perhaps a change in scenery, and location within the offensive line would do him well, like perhaps guard. Baltimore seems to have no intent on re-signing him, and it would seem like he would come relatively cheap. 6'4" 315, 27 years old, he appears to be a Chris Williams signing, first-round pick who didnt play all that well.
Is he a top tackle, no. Could he be a decent guard, why not? For those of us wanting to take Greg Robinson with our top pick, what do you do with him when Long comes back? Who gets moved inside or benched? Instead of making a rookie adjust to the NFL and learn a new position, make a low cost vet learn a new position, and keep the spot warm for a 2-3 round rookie.
Malcolm Jenkins - Free agent safety from the New Orleans Saints, played pretty well under Greg Williams, but never lived up to his 1st round status. Tevin already wrote up a bit about him so I will just link that here. http://www.turfshowtimes.com/2014/3/4/5468492/2014-nfl-free-agents-malcolm-jenkins-safeties .
Basically same deal, relatively young vet who can hold the spot for someone we could groom up for the spot. Walter Football has him ranked as the 18th free agent safety, so if you put any stock in those rankings, he will hardly be the most coveted option. A low-cost player to hold a spot for a rookie to eventually fill.
Kenny Britt - This one I am the most iffy on. Talented, yes. Mental lapses, you bet. Do the coaches know him, yes. Can he come for cheap, definitely. He is 6'3, 220 and only 25 years old.
For comparison Mike Evans is 6'5 230. Sammy Watkins 6'1 210. Brandon Marshall 6'4 230. Brian Quick 6'3 220. So the closest comparison is our very own Brian Quick. Now I am not saying Kenny Britt is as good as Brandon Marshall, or even has his head on straight enough to replace Quick. But it cannot be argued that our WRs have not been game changers, some great plays, sure, but not taking over games.
Will Kenny Britt be able to be that guy, maybe, maybe not. But what he will not be is a draft pick that we have committed to potentially many millions to, for many years. He would be a low-cost 1-2 year prove it contract, that if it pans out, excellent. If he flops, well just cut him. Doesnt even have to make to Week 1 if he is under performing. We have a couple former teammates and former coach(s) of Brits on the Rams currently, they will be the best judges of whether he is worth a flyer or not.
And your point is?
Basically my point is that Free Agency should be used as a low-cost option of fixing the holes on the roster. Yes St. Louis may still not be deemed an ideal place to go, so there may be some overpaying needed, but we are hardly Cleveland...sorry any Browns fans that may read this.
So while signing a big-name free agent might seem like an attractive option, it may not be the best option,
I feel that the Rams should sign some low cost free agents to fill some holes and give the front office some draft flexibility. We should not feel like we have to draft player x or we will have nothing at that spot. We should not have to jump up or pull the trigger early on any position because we feel as though we need someone at that position. Let the draft board fall as it may, and pick the best player available that can help the team.