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Free agent rumblings: Keep an eye on OLB Ben Leber

Ben Leber #51 of the Minnesota Vikings could be the St. Louis Rams next plug and play solution at OLB.
Ben Leber #51 of the Minnesota Vikings could be the St. Louis Rams next plug and play solution at OLB.

The St. Louis Rams need to address a need at weakside linebacker. One potential free agent solution garnering some mention lately is Minnesota Vikings LB Ben Leber. Would Leber be an adequate solution for the Rams' needs on the weakside?

Leber, a nine-year veteran, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, regardless of the NFL's rules for free agency this year...assuming the league makes it that far. Leber is 32-years-old, the same age as Na'il Diggs when the Rams added him as a free agent last year. At this point in his career, Leber doesn't stand out at anyone thing. But he is a savvy veteran who understands the game and how to read the plays in front of him. 

Save for a foot injury in 2005, Leber also has a track record of good health. That said, it's worth noting that his playing time decreased last year. Few speak highly of his coverage ability, and that could be a problem, depending on how the Rams address their hole at safety. However, his advanced stats from Football Outsides give him a 65 percent stop rate on 20 passing plays he faced last year; that's good enough to be ranked 16th. 

With first-round pick Robert Quinn improving the defensive line's ability to contain plays, some of the pressure will be off, ideally, the outside backers. Spagnuolo and Flajole have a knack for getting decent results out of middle-of-the-road OLBs by plugging them into the right scheme

Another option, a younger, more attractive option is Rocky McIntosh. Just 28, Washington's conversion to a 3-4 system has left him outside looking in...technically, inside looking out as they had him playing ILB whereas his strength is an athletic OLB. 

Whatever route the Rams do go, assuming they opt to pursue help for the weakside that's not currently on the roster, don't expect it to be a big splash. Ram_rod took a look at Spagnuolo's history with linebackers; it's not one that looks for big names to fill a need.