The St. Louis Rams aren't idling during this weekend's NFL free agent negotiating period. A report Saturday night said the team put in a call to Bills safety Jairus Byrd, one of the big fish in this year's free agent pond. And he's not the only big-ticket free agent the Rams are reportedly interested in.
Byrd is looking for big bucks, reportedly a deal averaging $9 million per year. That would make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL, in terms of average annual dollars. Chiefs safety Eric Berry makes an average of $8.34 million per year, on the $60 million contract extension he signed in 2010.
That's also about all the Rams have in cap room, without some creative refinancing, which you can pretty much expect anyway. But can they shuffle enough money to make room for a second big ticket item: Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner?
Verner has to be excited about his prospects as a free agent after Sam Shields signed a four-year, $39 million extension with the Packers on Saturday.
St. Louis spent big on another corner two years ago, signing Cortland Finnegan to a five-year, $50 million deal. They released him last week after two disappointing seasons. Corner isn't as big of a need as safety. The Rams were supposed to be in the position of relying on Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson as their starters by those players' third seasons.
Safety, on the other hand, is perhaps the team's biggest need, on defense at any rate. Opposing offenses torched the Rams without a reliable deep presence last season, and the free safety position is an important one in Gregg Williams' defense scheme, often left alone to handle deep coverage on blitzes.
Both Verner and Byrd, the top free agents at their positions and two of the best on the market overall, will have plenty of suitors. It could take some time for them to find the best deal possible.