The Steelers are now courting Rams punter Matt Turk after their offer to 49ers punter Andy Lee was matched by the Niners. Without Turk, fourth and long situations for the Rams promise to be ugly, especially if they're forced to turn to B. J. Sander.
Supposedly, the Rams are still intent to resign Turk, but they certainly don't seem to be approaching a deal with any urgency. At this point, they may have to try and outbid another of Turk's suitors. All of this feeds into a point made today by Bernie Miklasz in his Post-Dispatch column: the Rams seem content to idle in the free agent market while their rivals spend their way to new teams.
As a fan, I was really pleased with the Hall trade and the Bennett signing and still assumed that $23+ million in cap space meant more moves were on the horizon. However, the defensive line that kept the Rams out of the playoffs has yet to be upgraded. Without question, the premier talent at defensive tackle was off the market before the FA gates swung wide open, but other, less flashy options are available. My assumption was that D-line help would come through the draft. Yes, rookies do take time to develop, but playing the run carries a much smaller curve, ideally, and with a rotation you could Kennedy could be acceptable on pass plays.
Nevertheless, it's hard to argue with Bernie's point. The Rams do need make a few more moves ahead of the draft to upgrade a team that's ready to compete in 2007. Even signing a DT to plug into the rotation (ahem, Craig Terrill) would go a long toward bolstering a limestone D-line. The thing with Turk offers a frustrating example of watching the Rams sit on their hands, insulated by a lot of increased cap cash, while the players that can play walk away. Keep in mind, that it's been less than a week since free agency opened, so there's still plenty of time for things to happen.
Speaking of Craig Terrill, the restricted free agent was tendered an $850,000/sixth round level contract by the Seahawks. If the Rams could simply offer a deal that Seattle (notorious for allowing free agent talent to walk) would be unwilling to match - say three years, $4million - the Rams would get an affordable, acceptable component of a defense better equipped to stop the run. Any offer to Terrill may hinge on the length of the deal, as reports last week mentioned that his agent was working to get a long term deal. That was last Wednesday, and no deal has apparently been completed in the 8 days since. Could be that Seattle's management and/or Terrill's agent got busy with other things in the free agent market or it could be that the two sides were unable to work out a deal at all. We'll see.
Speaking of the Seahawks, fans in the Northwest don't seem pleased with their team's free agent moves, particularly Patrick Kerney's age.