Monday, March 3, 2014
Rams free-agent preview: Tight end
By Nick Wagoner
The free-agent market is scheduled to begin March 11 and teams may begin negotiations with those poised to hit the market beginning March 8. We'll countdown to that with a position-by-position look at what the Rams have in place, who is set to hit the market, what they might need and who might fit the bill.
In place: The Rams spent big money last offseason to bring tight end Jared Cook to St. Louis from Tennessee. Although technically listed as a tight end, Cook was the de facto replacement for Danny Amendola as a super sized slot receiver.
Lance Kendricks and Cory Harkey remain under the team's control for 2014 and join Cook as one of the groups where the Rams seem most settled heading into the offseason.
Pending free agents: Mike McNeill (restricted)
What’s needed: At first glance, the Rams seem to be pretty well set at tight end with the three under contract each bringing a different flavor to the table. Cook will continue as the primary pass receiving threat from the position while Harkey handles in line blocking and fullback duties and Kendricks does a little bit of everything.
However, the big picture beyond 2014 is a little more up in the air. Kendricks is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after 2014 and Harkey will be restricted. McNeill is a favorite of head coach Jeff Fisher and the Rams could likely get him back at the lowest tender number.
Tight end is still far from a pressing need going into the offseason but if the right opportunity presents itself, it's something that could at least earn a second look.
Possible fits: The biggest free agent prize of all is New Orleans' Jimmy Graham but the Rams obviously won't be in that market. Instead, if the Rams wanted to make an addition here it would likely be from the bargain bin. Matthew Mulligan, who was with the Rams in 2012 as a blocking specialist is the type of player who would fit that bill but the Rams replaced him last year and seemed content with Harkey in that job.
Verdict: I don't expect the Rams to make any free agent additions at this position with the possible exception of retaining McNeill on a low tender as a restricted free agent.