Wednesday, July 13, 2011
All in the family: NFC West free agency
By Mike Sando
Smart teams build through the draft.
The St. Louis Rams have done this recently, adding quarterback Sam Bradford, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, left defensive end Chris Long, right defensive end Robert Quinn, left tackle Rodger Saffold, right tackle Jason Smith and others.
A few specific needs remain. The more I look through the list of potential NFC West free agents, the more I get the sense quite a few would fit nicely with the Rams.
Let's discuss six of them:
- Deuce Lutui, Arizona Cardinals guard: The Rams need a starting right guard. Lutui is a pretty good one. He's a little quirky from a personality standpoint, and weight can be a problem for him. But Lutui plays with a nasty streak the Rams could use up front. I also think St. Louis could use a strong, unifying veteran voice on its line. Lutui wouldn't fill that role, but he would upgrade the talent, for sure.
- Brandon Mebane, Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle. Seattle could use Mebane as well, but for all the talk about Barry Cofield possibly fitting as a free-agent defensive tackle in St. Louis, what's not to like about Mebane? Signing him would diminish a division rival while solidifying a Rams line already featuring good talent. The run defense would improve with Mebane.
- Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers free safety. The Rams watched former franchise player Oshiomogho Atogwe sign with Washington this offseason. They could use a free safety to replace him. Goldson has started 32 games over the last two seasons. He would fill a gap on the Rams' depth chart.
- Brian Westbrook, 49ers running back. The Rams nearly signed Westbrook last offseason. They could use an upgrade behind Steven Jackson. Westbrook played well when needed last season. The 49ers aren't bringing him back. The Rams could do better mostly by going younger, but Westbrook could help for a season.
- Leroy Hill, Seahawks outside linebacker. Hill's off-field troubles and recent injury issues will not help him find work. Hill turns 29 in September and hasn't started a game since 2009. I'm listing him here because the Rams need an outside linebacker and Hill has become a forgotten man. His career was once quite promising.
- Steve Breaston, Cardinals receiver. The Rams already have plenty of numbers at receiver. Breaston offers speed and special-teams ability, but he wouldn't provide the "wow" factor Rams fans have been seeking at the position. He's also had some knee issues.
The NFL has yet to set rules for unrestricted free agency. Each of these six players has at least four accrued seasons. They would qualify under the system that was in place before last season.
Your thoughts? Fire away.