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Rams: What to watch for in free agency

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The official opening of the NFL free-agent period is finally upon us. At 4 p.m. ET today, all of those "unofficial" deals can be signed and the piles of cash will be handed out accordingly.

For the St. Louis Rams, it's probably best to temper expectations. They don't have the money or inclination to go out and spend big on some of the top-name free agents, especially with other teams in position where they have to spend their massive amounts of cap space just to reach the salary floor.

That doesn't mean that nothing will happen, just that it might not be in the first wave of free agency.

Here's a rundown of how things could shape up and what to keep an eye on as we approach the new league year.

In house

TE Lance Kendricks -- Things have been mostly quiet on the Kendricks front, but there have been some rumors out there of potential interest around the league. The Rams like Kendricks but it seems likely he'll land elsewhere. The Atlanta Falcons represent one potential match and something could happen fast there.

OT Joe Barksdale -- Like with Kendricks, whatever interest Barksdale has received has mostly been kept under wraps. But there have been some mighty big contracts handed out to offensive linemen during the negotiating window, so it stands to reason Barksdale will have plenty of interest and offers. He could land something in the $6 million range with the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, among those mentioned as possible landing spots. If, for some reason, that market fails to materialize and Barksdale's price tag drops, the Rams could get back in the mix.

WR Kenny Britt -- This is the free agent most likely to return to the Rams. They have been working diligently to try to get things done and Britt's name hasn't come up much in the initial wave. The Rams remain confident they'll get him back. As with all free agents, it's a fluid situation but this is too good of a fit and match to not work out unless some team swoops in with a bigger offer than expected.

QB Shaun Hill -- It speaks to the lack of good quarterback options out there that Hill's market has been more active than the others. Or, at least, it's been better publicized. Vikings reporter Ben Goessling reported Minnesota has offered a framework of a deal to Hill, and that's one possibility. Dallas and Oakland have also reached out to Hill's representative and Chicago has been rumored to have interest. The Rams would like to keep him but might not want to get into a bidding war.

Outside options

OG Justin Blalock -- We laid out all the reasons Blalock might make sense as a short-term option for the Rams. With three vacancies on the line, it seems like the Rams might have to add one veteran who is a little older. Adding a player like Blalock doesn't prevent adding another guard in the draft, either.

OC Stefen Wisniewski -- Oakland is apparently going to land Rodney Hudson when free agency begins, which means Wisniewski is likely to land elsewhere. But the price of Hudson (around $9 million a year) could drive Wisniewski's rate beyond where the Rams might be willing to go. It's not out of the question that something could work out but the Rams won't overextend to make it happen.

A linebacker -- Don't be surprised if the Rams look to bolster their linebacking corps. After starters James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree and Jo-Lonn Dunbar, the Rams have no experienced depth and if they find the right fit, they could potentially upgrade at the Sam position and use Dunbar as a jack-of-all-trades backup.