Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (80) runs after a catch against the Denver Broncos during the first half at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Is Andre Johnson The Missing Piece To The St. Louis Rams Offense?


 

With the St. Louis Rams 2014 NFL Draft class in tow, there is little to do now but wait and see how the positional battles play out during the offseason workouts. Most, if not all, have praised the St. Louis front office for piecing together one of the top draft classes  in the league, highlighting the Rams two Top 15 linemen; Aaron Donald and Greg Robinson, both the top prospect at their respective position. In terms of pre-draft holes, the Rams certainly addressed their need for talent in the secondary, with draftees, like Lamarcus Joyner and Maurice Alexander, as well as a number of undrafted free agents, like Maurice Roberson and Greg Reid (undrafted in 2013). The Rams appeared to also do an excellent job of adding the depth they needed on the offensive line, taking Robinson as an inside-out prospect, as well as drafting Mitchell Van Dyk and Demetrius Rhaney in the later rounds. However, the one corps that surprising did not receive an upgrade was wide receiver…

This offseason, Les Snead and Jeff Fisher regurgitated sound bites of confidence and contentedness with the Rams current batch of receivers. To be honest, the additions of Kenny Britt, a former first-rounder, and T.J. Moe should have bolstered some belief in their comments heading into last weekend. However, in the deepest receiver class in “decades,” the St. Louis front office opted to pass on all of the prospects in favor of their current grouping. To be fair, that corps does include several highly drafted players, including Tavon Austin (1st), Stedman Bailey (3rd), Brian Quick (2nd), and Chris Givens (4th). Why add more “prospects” to an already talented class fighting for reps?

Obviously, the Rams opted not to add anymore young talent through the draft… but what if that new talent weren’t a rookie, but rather, an established, Top 10 receiver?

Recently, Andre Johnson made some comments about his dissatisfaction with the Houston Texans’ organization, going so far as to suggest that Houston “might not be the place” for him in the NFL any longer. Obviously, that resinated strongly throughout the Rams Nation community, with many clamoring to add the top-flight, albeit aging, receiver to Bradford’s repertoire of weapons.

Most in the media have tagged Andre Johnson, and his massive contract, as “immovable,” citing his $15.6 million cap hit in 2014, and the $11.9 million dead money penalty the Houston Texans would incur if they released him. According to Spotrac.com, the St. Louis Rams are a mere $8.8 million under the cap as it currently sits, with an anticipated $5.7 million due to the incoming rookie class. When all the bills are paid, that would leave the St. Louis Rams with roughly $3.1 million in “spendable” money.

So, would Andre Johnson to the Rams be out of the question?

Probably.

However, the St. Louis Rams do have some wiggle room, if they were genuinely interested. With Aaron Donald on the roster, Kendall Langford could be considered an expendable commodity, and would free up $4.0 million under the cap. The oft-injured Scott Wells could get chopped as well, with both Tim Barnes and Barrett Jones in line for snaps at center; that would free up another $4.5 million. To add a finished touch, the Rams could also part ways with the final non-Fisher draftee in the receiving corps, Austin Pettis, adding another $1.5 million to the pot, and freeing up a slot on the receiver depth chart. Those three would move the Rams to around $13.1 million under the cap.

While that still may not cover the $15.6 million currently slotted for Andre Johnson, mutually benefiting parties could certainly re-negotiate a reasonable contract, if interested.

Obviously, this is purely a hypothetical exercise, with almost zero chance of actually happening. However, it does bring up a handful of debatable questions. Could an Andre Johnson-type of player be the “missing piece” to the St. Louis Rams offense? Would adding a “true, No.1″ receiver be worth sacrificing some depth on the front lines? Give us your thoughts…

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  • bluenotebacker

    I agree it would never happen, but if (and that’s a huge IF) Brian Quick could finally learn to play some football they wouldn’t need to go after anyone else. Obviously, Q doesn’t have the experience, but he could become an Andrea Johnson. Probably wont, but he *could*

  • Calvin G Suddeath

    I am so sick and tired of everyone wanting to jettison Kendall Langford.He was part of the resurgence of the Rams run defense and putting a rookie who’s forte is pass rushing is stupid not to mention ridiculous.

    • Nathan Kearns

      Not sure that anyone was advocating for Kendall Langford to actually be cut. Simply that, in order to make a hypothetical trade for Andre Johnson, you’d have to cut some large-contract players to make up the space.

      However, wouldn’t get too caught up in Langford as a major piece of the Rams “resurgence” on run defense. For one, it is still not spectacular, but any stretch of the imagination. Secondly, the only major boost in run defense that the St. Louis Rams have seen in the last two season came when Michael Brockers returned from injury in 2012. In fact, Langford did not grade out as a consistent performer against the run until the latter part of last season, which just so happened to be when Brockers, Ogletree, and McDonald (after injury) were performing at their peaks.

      The reality of the situation is, Langford is a “serviceable,” recently-converted 3-4 defensive end that will not be on the St. Louis Rams roster at the start of the 2015 season. Aaron Donald make him way into the starting lineup in the same way that Robert Quinn did back in 2011… slowly getting more and more reps as his rookie season goes on, then taking the starting role as a sophomore.

  • trinity

    Andre wouldn’t go to St. Louis. At this point, all he wants is a ring. That’s not going to happen with the rams.

  • drewspinoso

    Ditch Wells! He will be only good for 5 games this year anyway!

  • drewspinoso

    All problems would be solved if you shave off 2 to 4 million from C. Long’s overpriced contract and another 2 or 3 from Larinitus’ contract. Keep Langford and just ask the players if they want to win they will have to sacrifice their greedy paws!

    • Nathan Kearns

      I’d argue that “overpriced” is a subjective term. Chris Long leads the NFL in total quarterback pressures over the last four seasons, plays more (run/pass) snaps than any player on the defensive line, and is the obvious leader in an extremely young secondary (right there with Laurinaitis). Moreover, Long will drop back down into “normal,” elite defensive end territory next season, and the St. Louis Rams have no leverage to ask him to take less.

      When the organization starts asking their stars to take voluntary pay cuts, AFTER they have negotiated a long-term extension, it looks bad. Why would Robert Quinn (for example) want to sign a long-term deal when he sees that the front office regularly chops the top salaries of player within a couple of years of them signing?

      Chris Long and Sam Bradford has already restructured their contracts once before. Asking them to do it again might be a slippery slope…

  • MichaelNupe Thompson

    You wouldn’t think about it but Langford makes the donald pick even more deadly. Because now we have undeniable depth. Langford showed improvement in his second year and was graded out better than brockers. Wells should stay because he brings veteran experience to a young team and he’s better than barnes