The Rams' calculated risks in free agency

March, 30, 2013
3/30/13
8:00
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FlipperEllard89 from California wonders why the St. Louis Rams didn't keep more of their own unrestricted free agents.

"There has been a lot of talk about Jeff Fisher being a strong reason that players sign with us in free agency -- Jake Long, Jared Cook, Cortland Finnegan, etc.," he writes. "Why didn't playing with Fisher have a bigger impact on keeping this year's free-agent class? Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Robert Turner, Craig Dahl and Bradley Fletcher come to mind. We wanted at least a couple of these guys back, right?"

Sando: The Rams made little or no effort to keep those players. They felt now was a good time to make the break with Jackson. They could not justify paying a $7 million salary to an older running back while building around younger players. Jackson wasn't interested in taking a pay reduction after all he'd given to the organization. Both sides had good reasons for following the courses they chose to follow.

The Rams ideally would have kept Amendola, but at what price was that going to make sense? And if that price were high enough, would it affect the team's ability to land other free agents such as Long or Cook? I've felt for some time that Gibson was an adequate player, but not the answer, either. The longer he was starting, the more clear it was that St. Louis was not improving sufficiently at the position. The same could be said for Turner and Dahl, who were good role players.

Now, that doesn't mean every one of those players had to go. The Rams could pay a higher price if their younger players aren't ready.

The Rams are taking a leap of faith this year. They're moving on from the known to the unknown. In most cases, the known was not all that great. There's still risk involved, but overall, I appreciate the Rams' willingness to build around young draft choices. They have decided to pay top dollar for a couple younger free agents such as Long and Cook. They have generally decided against signing role players for a few million dollars per year, figuring drafted players can perform as well or better at more affordable prices.

Fans will feel better about things, most likely, when the Rams select two more players in the first round next month.

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