Monday, March 31, 2014
Rams taking a chance on Kenny Britt
By Nick Wagoner
Whenever St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher or general manager Les Snead have been asked about the potential to add help at wide receiver this offseason, both have reverted to the vote of confidence method, choosing to express their faith in the team's current crop of young receivers.
Apparently that confidence goes only so far, as ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Monday evening that the Rams agreed to terms on a one-year deal with former Tennessee wide receiver Kenny Britt. According to Schefter's report, the deal with Britt is for one year and $1.4 million with $550,000 guaranteed and could be worth as much as $2.9 million with incentives.
In every sense of the word, the contract is a "prove it" deal, which will give the perennially underachieving Britt a chance to establish himself and take another bite of the free-agent apple again next year. If there's any place where Britt can get his once promising career on track, St. Louis would seem to be it.
Britt entered the league as a first-round pick of Fisher's Tennessee Titans in 2009 and had his two most productive seasons under Fisher as a rookie and in 2010. That familiarity almost certainly made the Rams appealing to Britt as he searched for a fresh start.
After a promising start to his career, Kenny Britt has struggled the past three seasons.
Beyond that, the Rams also offer Britt a world of opportunity for a bounce back on the field. The Rams' young receiving corps has yet to produce a consistent performer capable of being quarterback Sam Bradford's top target week in and week out. At 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, Britt has the size and has occasionally flashed the potential to become that player in the past.
There are also reasons why adding Britt doesn't make much sense, either.
Back in January, Snead made it clear that for the Rams to add help at receiver they'd want that player to be a clear upgrade over the players already in place so as not to take away much-needed reps from the youngsters.
"A guy like that always can help your team," Snead said. "Here’s what you've got to weigh: If you think this particular player is close and the only way to get from close to there is play, when you bring in [another player] ... he's not going to play as much. You're still waiting. I think what seals the deal, if the process works, all these guys get experience, they grow together and, guess what, at the end of the year you have more than seven wins and if that's the case everybody goes, 'OK, it's worked out.'"
Whether or not Britt fits the bill as a clear upgrade is certainly up for debate. Since entering the league, he has had no shortage of off-field troubles, enough to earn him a one-game suspension in 2012. He also has had his share of injury troubles, tearing an ACL and MCL in 2011 and battling with persistent knee troubles the past few seasons.
Be it injury issues or off-the-field incidents, Britt's on-field production has taken a major hit since Fisher left Tennessee. In two years under Fisher, Britt had 84 catches for 1,476 yards and 12 touchdowns. In three seasons since, he has posted 73 grabs for 974 yards and seven touchdowns as drops and penalty issues became a factor.
By the end of the 2013 season, Britt's struggles earned him a place on the inactive list in three of the final four games.
Where Britt fits with the Rams remains to be seen but it seems like a pretty large leap to expect someone who has produced so little in recent years to come in and take over the No. 1 duties despite past flashes of potential.
In five years, Britt has never had more than 45 catches or 775 receiving yards in a season, numbers that hardly put him in the discussion of a proven wide receiver. In fact, those numbers actually fit in quite nicely with the rest of the Rams' current crop of receivers.
Fortunately for the Rams, Britt's not being compensated in a way that requires No. 1 type of production.
It's fair to wonder if Britt, who is only 25, can ever reach the potential he once flashed in Tennessee, and if his presence could be a negative for an impressionable group of young receivers. Of course, if anyone can get Britt's career back on track, it's probably Fisher.
Like the rest of the Rams' free-agent moves this offseason, adding Britt is a low-risk proposition. But it's also one that shouldn't come with the great expectations that Britt's career once carried.