Now that I have taken some time to cool down and not be too emotional in my response to the release of James Laurinaitis and Chris Long, no one gives a tinker's damn about Jared Cook's release, let's review what it means and who's next up.
First off, let me just say I completely disagreed with the release of Laurinaitis. I didn't want the release of Long, but I understood it. Injuries over the last two seasons just made it close to impossible to pay his salary and deal with his ridiculously high cap number.
Long did however look as if he still had quite a bit of juice left in the tank in the first couple of games of the 2015 season prior to his injury. He certainly appeared to be more spry than he looked in 2014. But being 30, and coming off of back to back injury riddled seasons -- with a massive cap hit -- usually will result in a divorce. I get it, but I don't like it. And to be perfectly honest I would have kept him around anyway. But 60% of that stems from him being on record saying he'd take a pay cut.
No one gives a care in the world about Cook...
But then there's Laurinaitis... While he was slowed by injuries the last two seasons, he still managed to play every game and be productive. He really excelled as a pass rusher when blitzing, and has set the franchises all time record for tackles. All of that aside, it still could have been someone else to suffer his fate.
Laurinaitis' cap hit wasn't the most expansive one in the world, and was indeed manageable. But what bothered me the most is the subtraction of Laurinaitis and Long, but the retention of Rodger Saffold. Saffold is a player that I actually wanted to see cut more than Cook. The reason being is that he's never avalable. And even when he is, like Cook, he's not worth his contract. Saffold might be the biggest waste of money on the roster considering he's both injury prone and inconsistent.
Which has left me saying, why him?
This all has left wondering what now? First off who steps up? Long and Laurinaitis weren't any old release, that was your captains and heart beat to your defense. Also, now that Cook is gone there's a hole to fill at tight end, although one could say there was a hole to fill even with Cook. Yes, the team still employs Lance Kendricks. But this is also a team that uses a lot of two tight end personnel. Cory Harkey is not much of a in-line tight end.
Free agency lacks quality tight end help this year, but the same cannot be said for the draft. In fact, the draft is flooded with good tight ends. I estimate six going in the first 90 picks, and all six have the potential to make immediate impacts. There's plenty of talk about Hunter Henry, but a true dark horse -- or two -- would be Tyler Higbee and Austin Hooper.
It's entirely possible the Rams trade down either from 15 or a second rounder to garner more picks. If a trade down does occur it would appear the more likely pick to be traded would be a second rounder. In round one, the Rams look to be in prime position to add a linebacker if they can't re-sign Mark Barron. While they do have more than enough money to do so, Barron made a name for himself this past season, and the Rams may not be willing to shell out his asking price. Or he could just want to test the waters.
If the Rams do lose Barron, there's a gaping hole at the linebacker position. The Rams could very well look for the opportunity to snag one of either Reggie Ragland or Jaylon Smith in the first round. It seems defense might take the focus from offense in this scenario.
The Rams desperately need to address the quarterback and receiver positions. But there's also legit holes to be filled now at linebacker and tight end. Let's not forget the need to rebuild the depth at defensive end. It just so happens that none of those positions, aside from defensive end, is all that strong in free agency.
As for both Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins, I have never believed for one second either would get away, and with move to LA -- Jenkins wanted this move and Tru is a Cali boy -- and over $50 million in cap space they'll likely be back. But don't be surprised if the Rams also try to trade for an established QB or even sign Sam Bradford -- Fisher loved him some Sam -- with some of this new found cap space.
It's odd how a few moves made for cap space, can make a unit previously set and filled with depth, a group in dire need of attention. Is it possible that these moves might have put improving the offense on the back burner? Yes. But will it? Only time will tell...