Since we're on the subject of restricted free agents this morning, might as well take a look at the St. Louis Rams players who will be RFAs if and when the salary cap goes away for the 2010 season, something that seems all but assured with both sides in the labor negotiations still far apart. Who's a keeper and who gets thrown back into the lake?
DE Victor Adeyanju - Inactive for the first part of the season, injuries put Adeyanju back into the mix. He even started last week with James Hall and Leonard Little out. He has some usefulness as a role player, mostly a run defender, but you have to wonder how Spagnuolo feels about him given his time on the bench this year. It's not like the Rams DL is so talented that they can't let go of marginal players either. Adeyanju could get tendered an offer at the lowest level, but would still have to fight for his job in camp. Look for C.J. Ah You to be the depth guy they bring back for 2010.
OT Alex Barron - I'm not fully convinced that the Rams won't bring back Alex Barron as much as we'd all like to part ways with the oft-penalized former first round pick. OTs aren't exactly a dime a dozen. However, the team needs a right tackle next season, with Jason Smith slated to move to the left side, and while Barron does fine run blocking, I'd have to think they might try to find more of a mauler in the draft or free agency. They could even install Goldberg and find a suitable replacement as a backup OT. Barron might be a suitable replacement, sitting on the bench in 2010 with a RFA tender at one of the lower levels. Remember, RFA tenders don't pay much relative to free agent deals. Right now, it's unlikely Barron will be back, but don't be surprised if he does return.
RB Samkon Gado - Watching Gado carry the ball on 3rd downs was painful this season, but not as painful as it would be watching the same thing happen in 2010. Given the coaching staff's trial of Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya last week, I'd say Gado won't be back. Meh.
DT Gary Gibson - Gibson you'll remember replaced former first round pick Adam Carriker as the starting LDT before Carriker suffered a season-ending injury in August. Gibson is bound to be back, though he may not be starting, especially with the first overall pick. Useful guy to have as part of the rotation.
WR/ST Ruvell Martin - Obviously, they don't need him for his WR skills, or at least we hope that the receiver picture is improved enough for 2010 that we don't need Martin as a regular. Where the Rams will likely bring Martin back is on special teams, where his coverage skills have helped improved the once maligned unit.
OL Mark Setterstrom - Given the importance of competent linemen, I'd say this is a no-brainer. However, given Setts' injury history - three season-ending injuries since 2007 - it's risky bringing him back and counting on him to fill in for the starters in the middle. They could very well follow the route they took this year with Setterstrom, not tendering him an RFA offer, rather waiting for that window to close and re-signing him for less as a free agent.
FS Oshiomogho Atogwe - This is the big one for the Rams. They'd like to get a long-term deal worked out, but his injury situation has complicated that to a degree. If they don't get something done, they may have to use the RFA tag for OJ, which would pay him much less than his franchise tag this season. Of course, that could sour Atogwe on the Rams and result in him demanding a trade, the only route he'd have in negotiations with an RFA tender on the table, since holding out would mean not playing in that case. This is the one to keep your eye on as the offseason progresses.