It’s June and the majority of the offseason is basically done and over with. The first round of free agency is done, the draft is done, OTA’s are over, all that’s left is training camp and the preseason, and then finally the 2013 season will be under way. The offseason is always long and grueling, and fans are anxious and getting restless for week one. The NFL has one of the longer offseasons in the four major professional sports, NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL. Let’s take a look at what the St. Louis Rams have done so far this offseason.
The Rams entered free agency knowing that future hall of fame running back and the face of their franchise, Steven Jackson, would not be returning to the team for the 2013 NFL season, instead Jackson decided to go play for a chance to win a super bowl ring and team up with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. The Rams were left with Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson at running back. The Rams also lost Bradford’s security blanket, Danny Amendola, to the New England Patriots where he is going to replace Wes Welker. The major losses did not end there. The Rams lost Brandon Gibson, Robert Turner, Quintin Mikell, Craig Dahl, and Bradley Fletcher.
The Rams were slim when it came to money therefore they were only able to make a couple of “big” free agent signings. The Rams did not go in the direction that many were expecting. Instead of going in the direction of a number one wide receiver, safety, and a veteran running back to replace Steven Jackson, the Rams went for offensive line and playmaking tight end. The Rams were quiet at the beginning stages of free agency while trying to bring in Delmas the safety from Detroit, however when the Rams brought in pro bowl tackle Jake Long for a visit, the Rams made headlines. Long endured possibly one of the longest physicals in the history of medicine, and when he left to go back to Miami, all seemed lost. While waiting for his decision fans started the trend #WhileWaitingForJake on Twitter. The Rams finally did reel in Jake Long and signed him to a multi-year deal. The Rams also reunited the Titans monster tight end Jared Cook with his former coach. Sam Bradford was one happy camper after the big free agent signings. After the two big signings the Rams didn’t really have the cap to do much else. They did however bring back William Hayes to add depth to the defensive line.
For the first time in a long time, the Rams found out that they will be hosting a Monday Night Football game in the Edward Jones Dome as well as a Thursday Night Game, both of which will be against division rivals, the Seahawks and 49ers. The Rams unfortunately have one of the tougher schedules once again going into the season, however anything can happen and the playoffs are still imminent. The Rams added a few players in free agency that could help them get over hump and finally get into the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Rams will see Steven Jackson this season only in a different uniform in week two and for the third time in four years the Rams will end the season in Seattle.
2013 NFL Draft
The Rams did make some noise in free agency and they would make more noise in the draft. The Rams held the 16th and 22nd picks, but it was expected that the Rams would move up or down to get their guy. It has been known for quite a while now that the Rams have been lacking a playmaker. Chris Givens turned out to be a playmaker, but the Rams still needed a guy and they would trade all they way up to number eight to get him. The Rams drafted the best playmaker in the draft in Tavon Austin to help out a struggling offense. However, the Rams did have to trade away their second round pick. You can bet Sam Bradford was still happy with that move. The Rams then traded down from 22 to 30 where they picked up Alec Ogletree who will hopefully give the Rams one of the best front sevens in the NFL. On day two the Rams picked up hard hitting safety T.J. McDonald and Tavon Austin’s teammate Stedman Bailey. Through three rounds this Rams regime had a very strong draft on their hands once again. On day three the Rams took Barrett Jones, Brandon McGee, and Zac Stacy. The Rams addressed their needs, but took the best player available. Les Snead orchestrated one of the best drafts once again by drafting a potential six starters. It was reported last week that all seven of the Rams rookies have signed contracts with the team.
The Rams players showed much commitment throughout the beginning of the offseason program as the attendance was near perfect. Jared Cook and Austin Pettis were among the players that really stood out as well as Tavon Austin. The Rams have numerous weapons and are now just figuring out how they will utilize all of them. Most of the time during these workouts is used to install the scheme and with this being the second year, it was a much easier process as there wasn’t as much learning to do. The Rams now wait until July 24th when training camp will start.
Due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Isaiah Pead and Rokevious Watkins were suspended for the first week of the season. Their suspensions will open opportunities for players like Barrett Jones, Zac Stacy, and Daryl Richardson to win the starting role. Trumaine Johnson also received a DUI, but was not suspended.
There will be many interesting camp battles this season at the running back, wide, receiver, safety, and guard positions. The Rams have had overall a successful offseason up to this point. They have a team that’s ready to contend and ready to take the next step. It’s not a question of whether or not they can do it, but will they?