Extensions and restructures:
- Scott Wells (C): Restructured contract. Reduced 2014 base salary from $5.5MM to $1MM. Reduced 2015 base salary from $5.5MM to $2MM. Received $1.65MM roster bonus for 2014, as well as additional roster bonuses and incentives that can be earned for 2014 and 2015.
- Acquired second-round pick (No. 41) from the Bills in exchange for second-round pick (No. 44) and fifth-round pick (No. 153).
- Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn (1.2): Signed
- Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh (1.13): Signed
- Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State (2.41): Signed
- Tre Mason, RB, Auburn (3.75): Signed
- Maurice Alexander, S, Utah State (4.110): Signed
- E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri (6.188): Signed
- Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU (6.214): Signed
- Mitchell Van Dyk, OT, Portland State (7.226): Signed
- Christian Bryant, S, Ohio State (7.241): Signed
- Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri (7.249): Signed
- Demetrius Rhaney, C, Tennessee State (7.250): Signed
The Rams warned us early in the offseason that they wouldn’t be tremendously active in free agency and they stuck to that promise. The bulk of the club’s changes came through the draft and they hope those reinforcements, coupled with a few additions from the open market, will be enough to help them be competitive in the NFC West.
In a draft where much of the talk centered around speedy wide receiver Sammy Watkins and the dynamic Johnny Manziel, the Rams avoided flashiness with their two first-round choices. At No. 2, a pick the Rams received from the Redskins in the Robert Griffin III deal, they plucked Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson. While the big 6-5″ 332 pound tackle won’t be among the league leaders in jersey sales, he should, in time, give the Rams an imposing force on the offensive line. However, he might not have the kind of immediate impact that some were expecting just a few months ago. At the time of the draft, it was expected that Robinson would start his NFL journey as a right tackle before eventually making his way over to left tackle. Now, it sounds like Robinson will be playing guard in 2014.
“It’s frustrating that I’m not up to pace right now because the playbook is more intense and things are changing but once I get back to where I’m comfortable, things will calm down and I can be myself out there,” Robinson said in June, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com.
Robinson hasn’t played on the inside of the offensive line since high school, so the growing pains are understandable. But for the long term, it’s understandable if Rams fans have some concern about Robinson’s upside. Of course, plenty of top left tackles start out in the league playing elsewhere on the offensive line. The Cowboys first used Tyron Smith, who inked a mammoth eight-year, $98MM extension yesterday, as a right tackle before entrusting him to protect Tony Romo‘s blind side.
Robinson will also get to pick the brains of veteran offensive lineman like Jake Long, Scott Wells, and Rodger Saffold. Of course, Saffold appeared to be heading elsewhere in March before circling back to the Rams. Saffold and Oakland reached agreement on a five-year, $42.5MM deal before a physical exam revealed a shoulder issue. While it was enough to scare off the Raiders, the Rams’ doctors had no issue with it, though the ordeal potentially cost Saffold some significant coin as the veteran’s new deal is worth $31.7MM overall with $11MM guaranteed.
To improve their situation on the other side of the ball, the Rams drafted Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald with their pick at No. 13. Donald At 6’0″, 280 pounds, Donald isn’t really your prototypical interior defensive lineman, but he has a knack for getting past blocks and into the backfield. As Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen noted earier today, Donald is about 30 pounds lighter than your average defensive tackle in the past decade of the NFL. And, in the past quarter-century, only one DT at 6’0″ or shorter has made a Pro Bowl. Still, the Rams, and a lot of other draft pundits, are banking on Donald breaking the mold and defying the odds.
The Donald pick was surprising for a couple of reasons. One, while the Giants, Bears, Cowboys, and other teams in the middle of the first round were linked to him, there wasn’t much buzz around the Rams drafting Donald. Secondly, many expected St. Louis to use that pick to bolster their shaky secondary. They wound up addressing that with their second-round pick, Florida State cornerback/safety Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner seems likely to spend a lot of time at slot corner this year, and possibly even start there, but he won’t be pigeonholed into one spot as he was drafted in part for his versatility. Look for Joyner to spend time at multiple positions in 2014 and beyond for St. Louis.
While there wasn’t a ton of money spent on the open market, the signing of Kenny Britt to a one-year, $1.4MM could potentially be a needle-mover for this Rams offense. The deal reunites the troubled Rutgers product with former coach Jeff Fisher and if he’s able to replicate the production from early on in his career, he can be a very dangerous weapon for Sam Bradford alongside Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, and Brian Quick. Injury troubles and legal problems aside, Britt has the natural talent to extend the field for the Rams.
The Rams didn’t have as much turnover as other teams this offseason, but it’s possible that they can disrupt the 49ers and Seahawks if quarterback Sam Bradford stays healthy and their two top draft picks can adapt quickly to the pace of the NFL.
Spotrac and Over The Cap were used in the creation of this post.