Looking at the comments - and down right gloom being expressed - in the open thread yesterday, I couldn't help but wonder what all the fuss was about? Frankly, I'm more concerned I ended the last sentence with a preposition than I am the lack of spending on free agents by the Rams...
In an article I wrote a few days ago, the flip-side of the free agency coin for the Rams made sense to me then, and still does. St. Louis fans wanted Jairus Byrd, but do they really think he was worth $9 million a year? Really? Looking at some of the spend-y purchases by other teams - at hyper value - I don't think the Rams' general manager Les Snead did anything but prove he's a smart football guy.
The negative side of the Rams roster balance sheet isn't as overwhelming as many fans think. True, their offensive line has some holes, but they're short term vacancies. Harvey Dahl could very well be unemployed for a mere few days before returning to the team. If not, St. Louis can use some middle round draft assets in May to bring in guards - yes, guards, as in plural - and create depth at the position. While everyone stares at the depth of wide receiver or tackle in the coming NFL draft, you may have missed just how deep it is in interior linemen?
If I learned anything from the opening day of free agency on Tuesday, it's that I got the slightest of glimmers as to where Jeff Fisher and Les Snead may be headed with their slew of draft picks this year. Not chasing an overpriced Byrd, or even the bargain T.J. Ward - who signed a new deal with Denver for almost half of what Byrd is being paid - tells me a safety like Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Prior are in the Rams' draft sights. Not getting into a bidding war with the New York Giants for mediocre guard Geoff Schwartz tells me the second or third round of the coming draft will see the Rams calling the name of a young guy like Gabe Jackson ( if not him, insert your choice here). In fact, if the Rams had gone hell-bent for signing Schwartz, I'd have been down right dismayed.
The departure of Rodger Saffold to Oakland for a jillion buck isn't a bad thing for the Rams. The Raiders got a good utility lineman, but so overpaid for him their GM Reggie McKenzie will probably be looking for a job at season's end. Did Rams fans really want to re-sign Saffold to a 5 year, $42.5 million contract, which has $21 million guaranteed? These are the same Rams fans who've watched Saffold limp off the field any number of times since he was drafted in 2010? You remember he hasn't played an entire 16 game season since his rookie year, right? He may have a new-found home as a guard instead of a tackle, but if he plays the same number of game for Oakland as he did for the Rams in 2013, he'll be paid a whopping $708,333 per game... For a utility lineman, albeit a good one...
Some fans sway back and forth, thinking if a free agent leaves their teams should make immediate moves to fill the void with an even better player. I know I do, but it's the height of absurdity to expect it to be true through just free agency. I've consigned myself to the youth trend of the Rams, and you should too. The future of this team is going to be seen starting May 8th at Radio City Music Hall. I absolutely expect the Rams to wheel 'n deal their way to more draft picks. It's going to be a whirl-wind ride, so get yourself ready. Don't so much as blink on Day 1 of the draft, or you'll miss the Rams' Les Snead shocking TV commentators and fans alike. Get ready for Snead to bob 'n weave on days 2 and 3 too. For the Rams, their future map was drawn the first day Jeff Fisher stepped through their front door. He and Snead are sticking to their course, with the proverbial "X" on the map marking either success or failure.
Based on what my brain has mashed together, I think the #13 overall draft pick has been cemented into place, provided Clinton-Dix or Prior are still there. The #2 overall pick will be the cat-bird seat, and don't be shocked if the Rams take less this year if a team wants to pony up a 2015 first rounder. It will be a team in the top 12, and I don't think Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews are their goal, but they take one of them if they're somehow there in the 8 to 12 range. If there's a ultimate goal for the Rams on draft day, it's to gain at least one more second round draft choice this year. If they do, look for guard and defensive tackle to be addressed. Are you curious what I think Fisher and Snead will do with the traded down pick they get for their #2 choice? Well I'm glad you asked! Here's the guy I think they want, and it may take a Day 1 juggling act to make it happen: