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Free Agency: A Risky Business

There are 2 ways to approach Free Agency.  The first, a philosophy of winning organizations, is to go after the very best talent available and fill weak areas or gaps in your roster.  You do your homework, you pull all the strings, and you make it happen.  In the second approach you are not decisive enough to go after the best athletes.  You might go after one stand-out talent, but even if you do, you don’t give them the necessary supporting cast to fully utilize their abilities.  You waste a lot of time scanning other teams practice squads hoping to find a diamond in the rough.  You hope that amongst the assorted second tier talent you have acquired you can peace together a somewhat competitive team.  This is the philosophy of the St Louis Rams and this is a risky business.  This costs people jobs, puts out a subpar football product, and alienates a hopeful fan base.

Is 2012 any different?  Let’s take a look at our current FA pickups:

DE William Hayes: thought to be a strong talent who has played with the Titans since the beginning of his NFL career back in 2008.  However, he has only started 12 games in the past four years and only 1 game in the last 2 years.  He did work with Jeff Fischer in the past so it makes a certain amount of sense to bring him on if Fisher believes in him.  He signed with the Rams for a single season so if the price is right this might not be a bad signing, but I still thinking it was within the arena of ‘wishful thinking’.

LB Lonn Dunbar: Dunbar has played for the Saints the last 4 years and had a solid season last year (58 tackles and another 22 assists).  He is competent, but considered small for a LB.  The Rams signed him on a 2 year contract for approximately $3M.  Time will tell, but I would call this pick up ‘a diamond in the rough’.

DE Kendall Langford: he has played for Miami since starting the NFL in2008.  His stats are very average although he does appear to be durable starting 54 of 64 games.  The Rams have picked him on a 4 year $24M contract ($12M guaranteed).  Honestly I don’t know why.  I concede that I’m on the outside looking in, but based upon his stats I would not give him that much money or that length of a term.  I guess the category here would be ‘hopeful’.  We hope he stays healthy and becomes a building block the Rams can grow on.

C Scott Wells: has played for Green Bay since 2004 and has started 100 out of 111 games.  Last year he was selected to the Pro Bowl.  He signed a 4 year $24M contract ($13M guaranteed).  Since his PB selection was last year (not 3 or 4 years ago), I’d say this is flat out a great signing.

O-Line Jovan Olafioye: Scouted from the Canadian league and expected to strengthen the offensive line.  He failed his physical and has already been cut.  (no category required)

WR Steve Smith: we’ve all heard of the great Steve Smith, but in reality he has had 1 good season.  That season was in 2009 when he earned 107 receptions for 1,220 yards (7 TDs).  Since then he has done very little and was ineffective last year with an injured knee.  The Rams picked him up on a 1 year deal at a reasonable salary ($1M plus unguaranteed bonuses).  This is a pretty low risk scenario which I would also label as ‘wishful thinking’.  The Rams have let Brand Lloyd go so there is no true gain here for the organization.  At best it is a short term patch to the Ram’s enormous need for offensive talent.

CB Courtland Finnegan: a longtime Titan cornerback who has a great career.  He was selected to the Pro Bowl back in 2008 and has been a durable player.  Back in 2010 he picked up some fines for unsportman like conduct (1 against Steve Smith), but has been quiet ever since.  The Rams have signed him on a 5 year $50M contract ($27M guaranteed).  My only real concern here is that the Titans have been an extremely average team over the last 3 seasons.  It makes sense to pay Scott Wells big money since he’s been playing on a great team, but paying this kind of cash for Finnegan makes me uncomfortable.  Generally, I’d still have to call this a good signing.

So there are my thoughts on the Rams FA signings.  What do you think?

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One Response to “Free Agency: A Risky Business”

  1. william says:

    you type of guys, just sley me at your lack of knowledge about the game and the business side of football..understand, a rebuilding team such as the rams, cant get every name that cones up in free agency, this team will build through the draft, and its not going to be a 1, 2, or 3 year fix. understand that

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