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Monday, August 1, 2011
Rams' moves deserving more acclaim?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Hurst from New York thinks the St. Louis Rams aren't getting enough credit for the moves they've made in free agency. He thinks they've targeted needs intelligently by finding good values.

Mike Sando: There's nothing sexy about picking up mid- and lower-level bargains. The Rams already had their quarterback, offensive tackles, defensive ends and cornerbacks. Those tend to be the marquee positions.

Adding a big-play receiver such as Sidney Rice would have generated more buzz by giving quarterback Sam Bradford a game-breaking talent. Mike Sims-Walker was a lower cost alternative and physically similar to receivers coordinator Josh McDaniels has preferred. McDaniels' record with wide receivers should give the Rams hope for the position, particularly with a talented young quarterback in place.

On the surface, St. Louis didn't make exciting plays for defensive tackles, either. Adding Justin Bannan caught my attention, however, given ties between Bannan and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Both were together in Denver last season. The Broncos paid a $6.2 million signing bonus to Bannan last season. McDaniels' personnel decisions in Denver caught up with him, obviously, but it's likely he would know whether Bannan could help the Rams. That could be an underrated signing.

Bannan and newly signed defensive tackle Dan Muir combined to start 30 games last season. The Rams don't need spectacular play from either. They already have Chris Long, James Hall, Robert Quinn and Fred Robbins on the line. They need solid play against the run from Bannan and Muir. They would have been better off spending more for someone such as Brandon Mebane, in my view, but they can always select a defensive tackle earlier in the next draft.

I'll go through NFC West teams' moves in greater detail as the dust settles on free agency. The Rams' grade could hinge in part on what the team does for a backup running back.