I highly recommend that you read this fanpost from Everett 11. It echoes a point made in this piece over at SBN St. Louis taking the St. Louis Rams front office to task for being "wimps" when it comes to their decision not to swing a deal for WR Vincent Jackson...or any other highly valued wide receiver.
Everett 11 breaks down the success, or lack thereof, of receivers drafted in the first round over the last decade. Though some household names and fantasy GMs recognize some of the players, the majority of them have become synonymous with disappointment. Risk. Like any draft pick, especially the ones that get big contracts, there is ample risk involved. Fans and pundits alike said the same thing about drafting Sam Bradford with the first overall pick.
Risk versus reward, after the jump.
The Chargers' asking price for Jackson is what reportedly torpedoed the deal for the Rams and the other teams involved. It's not entirely clear what that price was, but we do know it involved a second round pick in next year's draft. Whether or not A.J. Smith required another second round pick or a third round pick is unclear. Either way, it was deemed too much. The point both Everett 11 and Aaron Hooks are making is that the asking price really wasn't beyond reasonable given that Jackson is a 27-year old established player at one of the most difficult positions to draft and develop.
I've been pretty clear on where I stand with Vincent Jackson. He's a proven NFL commodity, eager to prove his worth again, and the ideal prototype for today's NFL. His combination of size and speed makes him valuable. WR is one of the hardest positions to draft successfully in the NFL (ask Matt Millen) and if you're going to use a second round pick to get a receiver anyway, why not Jackson?
Because he might cause some controversy? Because he might get suspended again?
Right. It's a higher risk. And the Rams aren't comfortable taking any sort of risk with their team. So how exactly do you overcome the hole already dug and leap ahead of the teams entrenched in success?
It's nothing that hasn't been discussed here before, but it's a much different context now with Mark Clayton out, the NFC West up for grabs and a Rams team still trying to rebuild a fan base that buys tickets.
I wouldn't entirely agree that the front office is risk averse, drafting Bradford proves that. And, despite their insistence otherwise, I can't believe that ownership uncertainty and ownership of the first overall pick didn't limit the front office. But winning teams make money.
Back when the Jackson trade talk was red hot, it wasn't as pressing for the Rams. They were doing well with the receivers they had on staff. The draft picks seemed particularly costly given the kinds of players the Rams have drafted in the second round over the last two years, not to mention the third round. It made the cost seem pretty steep at the time.
Times are different now.
I don't think this is an overreaction to an ugly loss against the Lions. The Rams are competing now, and even though they're not strong in every aspect of their roster, an addition like Jackson would dramatically change the offense, for the better.
No, it wouldn't make them a Super Bowl contender this year, but it would make them a legitimate threat for the division crown. More importantly, it would make them a competitive team again, a winning team. Winning teams sell tickets. Tickets sales translate to more revenue, bigger TV ratings. It snowballs, solidifying the Rams' connection with their fanbase, upping the income and giving the front office some financial flexibility that they haven't had for a while.
Giving up draft picks for a player just coming off a suspension is risky. Letting a team languish is just as risky.