After the initial whirlwind that was the first week of free agency, things have slowed down considerably. This certainly does not mean free agency is close to ending. But it does mean that teams are now in a position where they can possibly re-asses their needs and goals based off of players they might have signed or lost thus far.
Despite this shaky start, the Rams were able to salvage free agency just a bit by resigning a number of key pieces, most notably on the defensive side of the ball. Players like Mark Barron returning will go a long way towards solidifying the defense. They were even able to add a few pieces to improve depth when they signed Quinton Coples and Coty Sensabaugh.
While the moves they have made are solid and, in the long run, probably preferable to trying to overspend on one of the bigger free agents on the market, it is easy to argue that these moves simply maintained the strengths the team already possessed and failed to answer any of the questions fans might have had going into the offseason.
The biggest storylines currently circulating around free agency seem to be centered on one position. This position, of course, is the quarterback position. Will the 49ers keep Colin Kaepernick? Are Ryan Fitzpatrick’s days in New York done? What about RGIII? There have been rumors linking him to just about every team perceived to be in need of an upgrade at the QB position. This includes stories that he would put the Los Angeles Rams at the top of his list of potential destinations. Last but not least, is Johnny Manziel. Is he going to end up somewhere new in 2016? Or is his career done?
There are a number of storylines surrounding each one of these quarterbacks. One storyline that is starting to seem less and less likely, however, is a story that ends with the Rams making a move to get any of these guys.
The Rams have been fairly consistent about voicing their support of Case Keenum as their starting quarterback. Both Jeff Fisher and Les Snead have been on the record praising Case and his performance to end the 2015 season. Rams fans have learned not to put too much stock into comments by either Fisher or Snead, as both have been misleading in the past regarding their plans at quarterback.
History, combined with the consistently disappointing performances fans have seen on the offensive side of the ball for the Rams lead to another offseason where the “who will the Rams get at quarterback” discussion was front and center again.
But, as the Rams come up less and less in these quarterback discussions, might it be time to accept that the Rams truly mean what they say about Case Keenum? According to Nick Wagoner at ESPN, more and more signs point to Case being the man to line up behind center when the Rams take their first snap in Los Angeles.
Again, not only have the Rams appeared to show very little interest in any of the available free agent quarterbacks, they offered a first round qualifying offer for Case as he come up a restricted free agent. This is a pretty clear sign that the Rams are serious in their support of the quarterback.
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Now the Rams have been much more active when it comes to vetting the quarterbacks entering the 2016 NFL draft. Taking time to meet with everyone from Paxton Lynch to Connor Cook. So it is entirely possible the Rams will still look to take a signal caller fairly early in the draft this year.
While drafting a guy that can truly be the future of the franchise at the quarterback position would be an exciting move, is the decision to “settle” for the status quo in the short-term dooming the Rams to more seasons of mediocrity?
In all fairness to Case, he had some solid outings in 2015. Unfortunately, in a quarterback-driven league, it has become increasingly difficult for teams to win in spite of their quarterback and not because of him (though the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos show it can be done), and the biggest strength for Case continues to be the ability to avoid losing games. Very rarely is he mentioned as a guy that can win a game for you.
Is the defense up to the task of carrying the team yet again? Especially after the loss of several key veterans? Will the decision to stay the course at QB and emphasize the running game mean Todd Gurley may find himself looking at a career path tragically similar to that of Steven Jackson? Only time will tell.
But while it is safe to assume the defense will continue to be strong in 2016, it also reasonable to think that sticking with Case Keenum means that, in the short-term at the very least, the Rams may have already created too large a hurdle to overcome for a team that has been looking to take that next step for several years now.