For the most part, the St. Louis Rams roster has been filled out. From the end of February to the start of summer, the team has added a healthy combination of veteran and “young” talent, including hitting on several “big name” players in free agency. With training camp and preseason still left on the schedule before any meaningful football is played, there are still a lot of decisions to be made. As of August 27th, all teams must cut their current roster to a maximum of 75 players. Then, by 6:00 PM EST on August 31st, they will have to reduce that number again, rounding out the “final” 53-man roster.
It is unlikely that there will be too much shifting for the Rams at this point. There will likely be a handful of undrafted free agents released, and several rookie or sophomore players cut and moved to the eight-man practice squad. However, it would not be unfathomable to see the Rams snag a handful of veteran to come in and complete for a spot on the roster. On Friday, the team signed veteran safety Matt Giordano. Who else is left out there that St. Louis might consider bringing in?
Desmond Bishop, ILB
The Packers’ cut Bishop yesterday in a surprise move, leaving the seven-year veteran searching for a new home for 2013. Bishop was sidelined for all of 2012 with a hamstring injury, after posting huge numbers in 2011. As a 3-4 inside linebacker, the man racked up over 100 tackles, 23 pressures in the pass rush (including 5 sacks), and 47 defensive stops. To put that in perspective, those numbers were all superior to Patrick Willis’ that same year. Bishop would give the Rams some added veteran depth at middle linebacker, and could even shift to the outside on obvious run downs or on the goalline. He was due $3.46 million for 2013, which might be a little steep for a “depth” player. However, coming off an injury in a relatively stagnant free agent pool, Bishop might be willing to sign on for somewhere in the $1.5 to $2.25 million range.
Leroy Hill, OLB
In 2012, Hill was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 10th best 4-3 outside linebacker in the league. Hill is an all-around backer, who specializes as a run stuffer, but was also excellent in coverage, allowing a mere 60.0% catch rate and only one receiving touchdown when throw at last season. If signed, this would be his 9th season in the league, and would easily fit within the Rams’ tight budget. Last season, he signed a one-year, $1.6 million contract with Seattle. Prior to that, he was under contract for a mere $685,000 in 2011, the league minimum. Not only would Hill add depth to a severely limited outside linebacker pool, he could provide vital intel about the Seattle Seahawks. It would be similar to the Craig Dahl situation with the San Francisco 49ers, with the added benefit of actually being able to play the game of football.
Wayne Hunter, OT
I know, shocking! Wayne Hunter might not be the sexiest pick up for the Rams, but on the offensive line, consistency is the name of the game. With Jake Long and Rodger Saffold both falling prey to a laundry list of injuries over the past two seasons, quality depth on the outside will be essential if the St. Louis Rams plan to be competitive for all of 2013. In Wayne Hunter’s three “healthy” starts last season (Chicago, Seattle, Arizona) he played all 182 offensive snaps on the blindside, and allowed only 1 sack and 2 hits on Sam Bradford. Hunter got yanked after allowing 3 sacks against the Miami Dolphins, but likely should not have started the game to begin with, having sat out the entire week of practice with a knee injury. As a backup, Hunter would essentially be the filler at right tackle, regardless of whether it were Long or Saffold that went down with injury; with Saffold having the ability to shift to the left side if needed. More importantly, he should come relatively cheap, coming out of a bad situation in New York and a “below-average” statistical year in St. Louis. Regardless of your opinion on Hunter, he is a superior player to both Ty Nsekhe and Joe Barksdale, the current backups on the depth chart, and, considering he already knows the system in St. Louis, would have an easy transition back onto the roster.