Monday, March 3, 2014
Rams free-agent preview: Defensive end
By Nick Wagoner
The free-agent market is scheduled to begin March 11 and teams may begin negotiations with those poised to hit the market beginning March 8. We'll countdown to that with a position-by-position look at what the Rams have in place, who is set to hit the market, what they might need and who might fit the bill.
In place: The Rams made two key moves in 2013 to ensure their depth on the edge continued moving forward when they signed talented backups William Hayes and Eugene Sims to contract extensions. Those contracts guaranteed that the Rams have Hays, Sims and starters Chris Long and Robert Quinn under team control through the 2015 season (so long as the Rams do as expected and exercise the option for Quinn's fifth year).
Defensive end is clearly one of the Rams strongest positions, if not the strongest. Quinn is coming off a dominant season and Long remains a talented counterpart opposite him. Hayes and Sims are versatile pieces who can move all over the line.
The Rams did lose promising undrafted rookie Gerald Rivers to waivers late in the year but they do still have Sammy Brown, who has spent most of his first two years on the practice squad. The Rams think enough of Brown to have put two years into his development, though, so they at least see some potential in him.
Pending free agents: None
What’s needed: There's really little reason for the Rams to add to this position, at least through free agency. Clearly, the discussion about the possibility of adding South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney in the NFL draft will persist through May but that's solely a function of Clowney's talent as opposed to the team's need at the position.
Possible fits: Just because it's worth throwing out an option here, former Saints defensive end Will Smith is familiar with new coordinator Gregg Williams from their time together in New Orleans. Smith is a 10-year veteran who probably still has something left in the tank and he knows the defense.
Verdict: Simply put, the Rams are loaded at this position. I don't expect them to add a defensive end in free agency.