The St. Louis Rams have batted well in free agency. They landed two essential upgrades for three areas of needs with Cortland Finnegan, Kendall Langford and Scott Wells. However, the strikeouts, to borrow Tevin's baseball analogy from last night, in key at-bats are concerning.
Over the last 24 hours, the Rams have lost three key free agents they were courting, two of them to division rivals. Signing Langford and missing out on Jones is a push. Losing Mario Manningham to the 49ers is more troubling, though I suspect we will learn soon that the Rams were unwilling to meet his asking price. The Rams also lost out on backup quarterback Shaun Hill, who re-signed with the Lions.
First and foremost, concentrate on the positives. The moves the Rams did make in free agency are very, very good, but those three additions are only a footnote to the bonanza of a deal made with the Washington Redskins earlier this month.
As frustrating as it is now to see the Rams continue their inability to find a receiver, even with new management in the house, it will be forgotten soon enough. Five first-round picks in the next three drafts will provide more than enough talent for years and years to come.
I realize that the promise of future bounty does nothing to satiate an immediate need. The Rams still have to have do something to get better at receiver this year.
Two crucial factors the team has to count on are health and development. Jeff Fisher and his new coaching staff will have to make gains with last year's rookies.
Tight end Lance Kendricks, last year's second-round pick, has the talent to be a contributor. Getting more from Kendricks in his sophomore season might be the most critical task for the offensive coaches, besides getting Bradford's career back on track, and a contributing tight end would help with that goal as well.
Greg Salas got off to a rough start with some ill-timed drops in his first three games. Settled down, he was a contributor in weeks six through nine, before landing on injured reserve with a broke fibula. In his last four games, Salas caught 20 of 25 passes, working exclusively out of the slot. Perhaps more positive is that 230 of his 264 receiving yards came after the catch. Getting Salas contributing on the outside is key if the team keep Danny Amendola.
Speaking of Amendola, having him back will be a plus for the Rams, giving Bradford his safety valve. Amendola's best asset is his hands, and until the Rams have players capable of extending the field, he will rarely make contributions beyond the spot where he catches the ball. Salas, with his YAC ability, is probably a better option in the slot than Amendola, which makes the possibility of New England offering a second-round pick for Amendola even more enticing.
Finally, there is the draft ... again. This wide receiver class is not loaded on blue chip types like A.J. Green, but it is fairly deep with contributors and a handful of guys with some real potential. There is the obvious Justin Blackmon, but look deeper into the draft board for players that might be a factor who can be had with a pick later in the first or with one of the Rams' two second-round picks.
Free agency is barely a week old. True, the frenzied pace has ebbed, but between now and the draft, teams will continue to make moves. One thing we know for sure about this Rams' front office, they are willing to take risks and make big moves. I doubt Les Snead et al will not be retreating into their offices after a busy start to the month.