Fans were buzzing about the news yesterday that four-year players will likely qualify as unrestricted free agents when the NFL resumes business. Putting that rule back in place could make for one of the biggest free agent markets ever, after a quirky year when the rules stipulated that players needed six years for free agency. There's some real talent to be had, as well as some role players. The St. Louis Rams will surely fill a need or two via free agency this year.
We've talked at length about what exactly those needs are for the Rams. Outside linebacker hasn't gotten much play though, which is partly due to the fact that Spagnuolo's system doesn't put a high enough premium on that position to justify big dollars and first round picks.
On Doug Farrar's list of the best potential free agents is a player who could fill that that need for the Rams: Carolina LB James Anderson. Ken Flajole, the Rams defensive coordinator, was the linebackers coach in Carolina prior to joining the Rams' staff. That connection undoubtedly factored into the decision to sign Na'il Diggs last year. And it's again something to watch with a free agent like Anderson on the market.
However, Carolina has plenty of needs to fill, and will also be required to spend in excess of 90 percent of the cap. To me, that makes it likely that they keep a young, talented linebacker like Anderson, assuming they stay with a 4-3 defense. Anderson played on the strongside last year. I really don't know enough about him to say whether or not he could fit on the other side.
Carolina's weakside linebacker, Thomas Davis, is also a free agent. He's also coming off two seasons with consecutive ACL tears. It seems far more likely that Davis is the odd man out in Carolina. They could also find another lower profile option, like Ben Leber from the Vikings.
Whether or not the Rams add a weakside linebacker is a question in and of itself. They might very well not, thinking that upgrades to the front four and finding an answer at safety will be enough to address that need along with another year of experience among the current group of linebackers.
Free agency can't get here soon enough.