With the pending CBA negotiation this offseason, every thing in the NFL is up in the air with the exception of the NFL draft. Free agency, minicamps, training camps and even the regular season are all up in the air until the CBA is signed.
If the CBA is signed late in the summer or even into September, there is a case that free agency will be suspended and all players will be placed on the team they were with last season and free agent player movement is tabled until 2012. If that is the case, the Rams will have some benefits and some challenges. All of these thoughts on the Rams are in the remote (hopefully remote) chance that this specific outcome occurs. A thought exercise for your Tuesday morning.
The biggest benefit is that wide receiver Mark Clayton will be reassigned to the Rams for another season, which will only benefit the Rams offense and Sam Bradford. The biggest challenge is that the Rams will be unable to trade for a wide receiver until the CBA is signed and will not be able to sign any free agent wide receivers.
Another position that will need a potential free agency bounce is outside linebacker, and the Rams would have Na’il Diggs assigned back to them for the 2011 season, but they would be unable to acquire any help at LB outside of the draft. The same problem exists at the defensive tackle position as the Rams would have Clifton Ryan assigned back to them even though he looks ready to leave St. Louis. But even with Ryan, the Rams will need a boost in the middle of their defensive line through free agency.
The good news is that a lot of the young Rams team will progress between their 1st and 2nd or 2nd and 3rd years, which will continue the improvement of the Rams team. Even without free agency, the Rams have built their roster through the draft and plan to build it through the draft for years to come. A team like the Rams would be much more hurt if the draft was called off. For this reason, the “no free agency” solution would not be ideal, but the Rams would be able to continue heading in the right direction.