There are needs. And there are priorities. And Los Angeles Rams’ General Manager Les Snead knows the difference.
Snead has never shied away from talking about how he approaches the NFL Draft. Needs and wants are two totally different things in his eyes.
Back in February of 2013, just one year into his role with the team, Snead had this to say about what teams need to do...
Sometimes when you ‘need’ something, you become desperate. When you’re desperate, you can make bad decisions.
And Snead, whether wrong or right, has stayed true to his word in that regard. For the most recent example, look no further than 2015 when the Rams selected Georgia running back Todd Gurley. If one were listing the Rams’ needs prior to that draft, running back would’ve been well behind offensive line and quarterback. Yet Gurley was the top player on their board, and Snead and Co. drafted him....regardless of need.
Les Snead spoke earlier today at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He had plenty to say about the team and their direction, all while trying not to give up too much information about their intentions.
But Snead let those in attendance know what their top priority was...and it wasn’t drafting/signing a quarterback. It was retaining the free agents in the secondary:
If I were to prioritize what's going on in our building, and there's a lot of things going on, that is priority A right now, even at this combine. We'll meet with their reps, maybe more than one time at the combine, and I'm not going to say anything gets done, but we’ve got a lot going on here and that’s priority A.
To be clear, because there are several, the Rams’ current list of [top] free agents in the secondary are [in no particular order]: Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Mark Barron, and Rodney McLeod.
But negotiations may have hit a snag earlier this week. And Jenkins, who is probably the team’s top priority, took to twitter to let Snead & Co. know how he felt about their initial offer.
But that’s the art of negotiation, and it’s a whole lot newer to Jenkins than it is to Snead. It certainly doesn’t mean the Rams will allow him to walk, nor does it mean Jenkins thinks the negotiations are over. And so they dance.
Regardless, Snead’s comments today give credence to the notion that Jenkins was less than accepting of the team’s initial offer to retain him.
Whether he’s talking specifically about Jenkins - or about the free agent defensive back crop as a whole - remains to be seen. But for now, with no new deals, we can only assume "the number" is what’s holding us back from a clearer picture of the Rams’ defensive depth chart for 2016.