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Mailbag: Rams have issues at receiver

4/4/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Chris from parts unknown writes: Sando, Wassup man. I wanted to know, will the rams pick up a free agent WR heading towards the draft or do you think they will draft a WR? If so, who do you think they will pick up??

Mike Sando: Adding a veteran receiver sounds like a good idea until you take a closer look at the 14 unrestricted free agents at the position:

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

Plaxico Burress and Torry Holt are probably the best available receivers among those released by their teams (released players do not qualify as unrestricted free agents). Given that the Rams have said they will not pursue college prospects with known off-field issues, I would not expect them to consider Burress, whose legal troubles are significant. And Holt's time in St. Louis has passed.

Toomer would make sense for the Rams if they were desperate for a mentor. His Giants career overlapped with Steve Spagnuolo's time there. So far, however, the Rams have appeared more determined to get younger than to add aging veterans. That type of move would probably wait until after the draft.

I see no sure-fire way to fix this position in one offseason. The Rams probably would have drafted Jake Long if given the opportunity last year. I would expect them to draft a tackle with the second overall choice this year. The team might then need to help its defense. Under that scenario, it becomes harder to find a likely starter at receiver in the draft. And I do think the Rams need a starter to pair with Donnie Avery, even if the coaches like Keenan Burton's potential.

Bottom line: As much as the Rams need help at receiver, I'm not sure they can afford to address the position aggressively at the expense of other needs. The value would have to be strong -- a possibility at the top of the second round -- or they would have to surprise us by selecting Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin early. Perhaps we'll see them looking for a veteran stopgap after the draft.

The team's current receivers include Avery, Burton, Chad Lucas, Nate Jones, Joel Filani, Travis Brown and the rehabbing Derek Stanley.