Be it cornerback Alterraun Verner or safety Jairus Byrd, Rams fans would love for one of them to join the Rams. With $15 million in cap space pending the release of guard Harvey Dahl and cornerback Cortland Finnegan, the Rams certainly have the cap space to do so.
As much as it would be nice for the Rams to jump all over one of these two players, general manager Les Snead should be cautious as to bringing in another big name free agent that will cost the team a lot of money.
Over the past two years, the Rams have mis-hit on a number of free agents that ate up cap space. The perfect example being Finnegan. Not even to mention the Rams have a lot invested in left tackle Jake Long who just tore his ACL and tight end Jared Cook, who although was the Rams’ leading receiver, had only one game of over 100 yards receiving and lead all tight ends in dropped passes.
In free agency teams have to be cautious as to not overpay a player. They need to pay the player for what they are going to do rather than make the mistake of paying them for what they have done, which is clearly what the Rams did with Finnegan.
Where the Rams have had some of the most success in free agency, is by bringing in the smaller, less sexy names that are going to make an impact for a smaller price. Examples of this being linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar who was arguably the Rams’ best free agent signing in 2012 and defensive end William Hayes who has recorded 12 sacks in limited snaps over the two years he has been with the team.
Another signing for the Rams that has worked out is offensive lineman Joe Barksdale. After being released in training camp in 2012 by the Oakland Raiders, Barksdale came into St. Louis and became the starting right tackle.
Free agency is like the draft, in the sense that you can hit or miss, you just don’t know for sure. The only difference is, free agency is more risky just for the fact that there is a lot more money involved now with the rookie salary cap in place.
There is always the chance that you can get the next Drew Brees or Reggie White free agent signing that helps lead your team to the Super Bowl, but you can also get the next Nnamdi Asomugha or Albert Haynesworth free agent signing that takes years for your team to recover from.
Not one of last year’s free agents to sign with new teams ranked in top 10 in passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards or INTs.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 8, 2014
Verner and Byrd may end up being great players for their new respective teams, but they both have their red flags and are both going to break the bank for a team to sign. At 25 years of age, Verner has huge upside and can become one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Byrd is still only 27 and being one of the best safeties in the league for the past three years, there is a pretty good chance he will continue to do so.
Sometimes when a player enters a new system or is misused, their play drops and they become a free agent bust, and that isn’t totally out of possibility with Verner and Byrd.
The Rams have a lot of holes when it comes to their secondary and offensive line, there is really a complete lack of depth. The Rams would almost be better going after the smaller name free agents that aren’t going to be a lot of risk, but will still make just as much, if not more of an impact. Doing that will give the Rams more players and therefore will allow them to fill more holes.
The Rams have run into some bad luck when it comes to free agency over the past two years. They have lost key players in running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Danny Amendola, and have signed players that have disappointed like Finnegan.
The Rams have nine picks in the upcoming draft, that could become more with trades. Shying away during free agency and signing players that will add depth, but still make an impact and build through the draft, might be the way to go in 2014.