While some will resort to college basketball or the NBA All-Star weekend to fill the gap between now and the start of the 2014 NFL Combine, others will be painstakingly weeding through all of the top NFL sites to search of the best information on the upcoming free agency period. For some teams, free agency will be just another day on the calendar, with a handful of re-signing and one or two “small name” additions. For other, like the St. Louis Rams in the 2013 offseason, free agency will be a key factor in their success or failure in the upcoming season.
With a handful of players in the “peak year” of their respective contracts, the St. Louis Rams will struggle to make room and re-sign players this offseason. The front office is expected to make several major decisions, including the release of Harvey Dahl and Cortland Finnegan, but will still have to work some magic if they hope to pull in some “upgrades.” While the big name players might be out of reach, it does not mean there aren’t some “lesser” players that could make a significant impact on the roster. With guard and safety being the consensus “top needs” on the depth chart, here are two names that might be intriguing once free agency begins.
Louis Delmas, S, Detroit Lions
Last offseason, the St. Louis Rams had Delmas in their crosshairs, but allowed the safety to leave without signing a contract. Instead, the moderately sought-after defensive back re-signed with the Detroit Lions. Now, once again, Delmas in hitting the open market, and with Tim Walton out of the picture, could be slated for another stop in Rams Park. Would the Rams be interested? Well, to start, he obvious fits the Jeff Fisher-mold of defensive back, supported by the fact that he brought in last offseason. Secondly, he would compliment the run-stuffing T.J. McDonald well, having finished the season with the 11th-highest coverage grade among safeties last season; something the Rams sorely need. Lastly, he should come at a relatively low price, having played for only $1.2 million last season in Detroit. He will likely demand a slightly higher figure this time around, but anything within the $2-3 million/season range should work!
Chad Rinehart, OG, San Diego Chargers
While the skill players and “franchise” positions will garner most of the attention, Chad Rinehart could be a diamond in the rough for the St. Louis Rams. Last season, Rinehart played for a mere $1.25 million in San Diego. For that Chris Williams-sized contract, the Northern Iowa alumni managed 11 starts and allowed only one sacks, five hits, and 11 hurries in the pass-happy Chargers offense. Rinehart, a 3rd rounder in the 2008 NFL Draft, has had an interesting past in the NFL, including a broken leg in 2009 and a public intoxication charge back in 2010. However, in his last full season in the league, back in 2011, he ranked 9th among guards, despite starting six games at left guard and nine games at right guard. With an affordable price tag and guarantee of tutelage from offensive line guru, Paul Boudreau, Rinehart could be the steal of the St. Louis Rams offseason.