When Jeff Fisher and Les Snead were hired in early 2012 to "fix" the St. Louis Rams, they were assigned the daunting task of overhauling the roster and bringing in quality and quantity.
Given that the Rams finished 2-14 the previous year, and had only a few serviceable starters on the roster, it was unreasonable to think that they would turn the ship around in one offseason. However, the hope was that given plenty of cap space and draft capital, and a healthy Sam Bradford, they could have a nice start. And they more or less did, finishing 7-8-1 in the first year of their regime with the arrow pointing up.
Obviously, that optimism was short lived as the Rams currently sit at 5-8 (after 7-9 and 6-10 seasons) and have major questions at many key positions, including quarterback, offensive line and wide receiver. Those positions are PRETTY important for scoring points, as you all know. Also, many of the key pieces brought in during 2012 are now afterthoughts, free agent and draft misses that have left fans frustrated and wondering about the competency coaching staff to develop talent.
Let's talk about the players this regime signed, the expected value/role in 2012, and what their value is now to the Rams.
2012 Free Agency Notables
In the 2012 offseason, the Rams managed to ink the trio of Cortland Finnegan, Kendall Langford and Scott Wells. All three were expected to contribute at a high level for multiple years based on their ages and heavy contracts.
Here's how it shook out:
- After a solid 2012 for the former Pro Bowler, Finnegan fell off the map in 2013 with inconsistent play. He was released and later signed with the Dolphins. He semi-retired, then recently came out of retirement to join the Panthers.
- Wells was dinged up early in 2012 after being durable most of his career. Battling nagging injuries with a revolving door of linemates, Wells never regained his Pro Bowl form. He was released this past offseason.
- Langford was solid if unspectacular for several years before being a cap casualty this past offseason. He's now a starter for the Colts.
2012 Draft Notables
Before the 2012 NFL Draft, the Rams executed a blockbuster trade with Washington, sending them the #2 pick, used on Robert Griffin III, for a boatload of draft picks. During the 2012 draft, the Rams then traded down and acquired more picks.
Here's what they did in the first four rounds:
- 1st round (14th overall): DT Michael Brockers, a solid starter for the Rams who improves each year.
- 2nd round (33rd): WR Brian Quick, starting coming on early last year as a top playmaker, now struggling to contribute in the passing game.
- 2nd round (39th): CB Janoris Jenkins, coming into his own as a Pro Bowl-caliber playmaker.
- 2nd round (50th): RB Isaiah Pead, spent much of his career in Fisher's doghouse (and chasing fumbles) before his release this year.
- 3rd round (65th): CB Trumaine Johnson, rounding into an excellent cover corner.
- 4th round (96th): WR Chris Givens, inconsistent deep threat who was traded to Ravens this year.
The Rams actually did quite well in UDFA, signing four eventual starters and role players out of nine.
- P Johnny Hekker, who is an All-Pro.
- FS Rodney McLeod, who is a solid starter.
- QB Austin Davis, who started several games in 2014 for the Rams and in 2015 for the Browns.
- TE Cory Harkey, who is the 3rd TE and lead blocker in two back sets.
The Rams brought in eight players via waivers including four offensive linemen. Only one, OT Joe Barksdale, is still contributing in the league and is a solid starter for San Diego. The Rams let him walk this past offseason.
The Rams traded the disappointing #2 overall pick from the 2011 NFL Draft, OT Jason Smith, for OT Wayne Hunter. Hunter was released in 2013.
2012 Value Summary
Of the 40 players signed, 22 are non factors (not on NFL rosters). Only nine players are still with the Rams.