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Monday, March 30, 2009
Few veteran WR options for Rams, 49ers

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

UFA Receiver Age
Amani Toomer
35
Dane Looker
33
Dante' Hall
31
Darrell Jackson
30
Justin McCareins
30
Ashley Lelie
29
Koren Robinson
29
Edell Shepherd
29
Brandon Lloyd
28
Shaun McDonald
28
Drew Carter
28
Tab Perry
27
Keary Colbert
27
Reggie Williams
26

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams and 49ers could still use help at wide receiver through the draft, free agency or both.

One problem: We're down to 14 unrestricted free-agent wide receivers. Eight of the 14 are NFC West castoffs (see chart): Dane Looker, Dante' Hall, Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, Koren Robinson, Brandon Lloyd, Shaun McDonald and Keary Colbert.

The oldest UFA receiver, former Giants mainstay Amani Toomer, has ties to St. Louis through new Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo. However, the Rams have been dumping older players, not adding them. At 35, Toomer is older than any player on the Rams' roster (Leonard Little is 34).

A few notable non-UFA receivers are still without teams for 2009, including NFC West alumni Torry Holt, Reche Caldwell, Joe Jurevicius and D.J. Hackett.

What should the Rams and 49ers do? Holt isn't coming back to the Rams. He might make sense for the 49ers if Isaac Bruce were to retire. But the harder I look at the list of available receivers, the better the draft appears as an alternative.

Scouts Inc. lists five draft-eligible receivers with grades higher than 90 (see Insider rankings), signifying a "rare prospect" with the ability to "take over a game and play at a championship level." The five: Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

The Rams would be defying convention if they selected a receiver with the second overall choice. If they go in another direction, as expected, the top five receivers could be off the board before St. Louis picks again. That marks quite a departure from 2008, when the Rams made Donnie Avery the first receiver selected in the draft -- at No. 33.

I co
uld see the 49ers considering a receiver at No. 10, particularly if the top tackles are gone and they thought pass-rush help could be found later.