The process of reshaping the roster is underway, as the St. Louis Rams gear up for another busy offseason. The team released offensive tackle Wayne Hunter on Wednesday afternoon, according to Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch.
Hunter served mostly as a backup tackle, situated in the third spot on the depth chart. That was out of line with the $4 million salary he was due for the 2013. The move will help the Rams free up some additional space under a $123 million salary cap.
The Rams acquired Hunter during the preseason last year in a one-for-one deal that sent Jason Smith to the New York Jets, an exchange of disappointing pass protectors. Smith was released last month. Hunter made four starts with the Rams last season at left tackle in place of the injured Rodger Saffold. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed a total of four sacks and 20 total pressures in 345 snaps. He was abused for three sacks by the Dolphins.
Some team will likely take a chance on Hunter in the offseason as a low-cost way to add some depth. The Rams will look to younger players on the roster, like Joe Barksdale, to fill that need.
This move will mostly be felt on the previously mentioned cap side of things, freeing up money for the team to make a move or two in free agency. One of those moves could be bringing in another offensive tackle, one that would be a reliable starter rather than a backup.
There will probably be additional players cut between now and March 12, when the free agency period begins. Steven Jackson is expected to void his contract, and another name to keep an eye on is safety Quintin Mikell, who carries a big cap hit of $9 million. The Rams would reportedly like to keep him at a reduced rate, but he could cash in on a good 2012 season as a free agent.