Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Kevin Roberts of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more information on St. Louis Rams stats, news and rumors – visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The St. Louis Rams appear to be in a good place heading into the 2014 NFL season. They’re fresh off of a season in which they displayed immense competitive spirit despite playing half the year without starting quarterback Sam Bradford, while they found a franchise running back in Zac Stacy and continued to improve on defense.
This coming season offers hope for a shot at a wild card playoff spot, though, and the Rams will have to make a few moves to make sure that happens. In the brutal NFC West division, every move counts. St. Louis has already begun making the tough decisions, recently cutting ties with aging cornerback, Cortland Finnegan. It’s not an easy call, but one that saves the Rams a ton of cash and gives them flexibility moving forward.
Just as important, that’s the kind of move that could even make the Rams better. Finnegan’s play was slipping and an open spot could allow a younger player (possibly someone St. Louis drafts this year) to step up and make more plays at a cheaper rate.
Finnegan should just be the start, though. There are a few other players the Rams should consider moving on from, as well. Here are our top cut candidates:
Sam Bradford (Quarterback)
I’m not really down on Bradford. After all, he was well on his way to by far his best statistical season in 2013, and the only reason he didn’t get there was because of a random knee injury. He still has the talent and potential to realize the Rams’ initial vision of him being the long-term answer under center.
While that’s a very realistic possibility, it’s not crazy to wonder what life would be like if St. Louis just cut their losses and moved on from the former number one overall pick. Bradford is owed a whopping $27 million over the next two seasons, and the Rams could save over $10 million right now in 2014 by cutting him loose. Even better is the fact that they hold two first round picks this May, with their first being the second overall selection. If there was ever a good time to dump a franchise passer and start over with a new one, this is it.
Isaiah Pead (Running Back)
Pead is just 24 and has only been with the Rams for two seasons, but the guy that was once seen as the St. Louis running back of the future has just 17 carries to his name and hasn’t done a whole lot with them. Even worse is that he’s fallen to third on the depth chart behind Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson and GM Les Snead now sees him as a “special teams” contributor. That’s not good news for a former second round pick who was selected to be a key part of a team’s rushing attack.
Pead doesn’t cost much to keep on and still offers some depth and upside, but his resume isn’t impressive. The Rams would probably be doing themselves a favor by cutting him loose and just bringing in some new talent. Daryl Richardson and Benny Cunningham could also be improved upon, but both have been more effective than Pead, so they are probably a lot safer going into next season.
Brian Quick (Wide Receiver)
Speaking of talent that hasn’t realized it’s potential, Quick has accumulated just 29 career receptions in two seasons with the Rams and does not have a clear role heading into 2014. The Rams sold their soul to nab Tavon Austin in last year’s draft, and are rumored to be interested in obtaining a big target for their receiving corps before next season rolls around.
Quick’s inability to develop at a consistent rate is a huge reason why. His college tape showed he had the size and play-making ability to be the answer St. Louis is looking for, but two years in the league have proven otherwise. GM Les Snead has alluded to the Rams not needing more wide receiver help, but that is quite possibly a smokescreen. If the Rams do bring in more talent at wide receiver in the draft or free agency, it could very well spell the end for Quick in St. Louis.
Austin Pettis is another cut or trade candidate at wide receiver. He’s displayed solid possession skills in his three seasons, but isn’t a long-term answer at any of the three spots. if the Rams can’t find a suitor for him via trade, he could be released.
Lance Kendricks (Tight End)
Kendricks isn’t a bad tight end and there’s nothing wrong with him sticking in St. Louis as an in-line tight end and secondary option to new starter, Jared Cook. However, he hasn’t developed into the consistent play-maker the Rams thought he would when he was drafted and since Cook is now in their plans, it’s entirely possibly they simply move on. Kendricks comes at a decent price and has good experience for the role he’s playing, but the Rams could just as easily bring in a rookie or sign someone off the streets and cross their fingers they do just as good of a job for a cheaper rate. He’s less of a necessary cut as the guys above him, but Kendricks clearly isn’t a big factor in the Rams’ offensive plans going forward. It might be time to let him see if he could cut out a bigger role on another NFL team.
For the offensive side of the ball, these are the main players the Rams need to seriously consider moving on from. One other key move on offense for the Rams will be simply not bringing backup quarterback Kellen Clemens back. St. Louis won despite his efforts for much of the second half of the season and it was quite clear they can improve upon the quarterback position behind Bradford.
There are also probably some realistic candidates on the defensive side, but for the most part the Rams have a good nucleus that they won’t want to mess with. They need to improve in their secondary, but they already cut Finnegan loose and everyone else is either too talent or still unproven to give up on so soon.
Tags: St. Louis Rams