ST. LOUIS -- As the St. Louis Rams prepare for free agency and the NFL draft, there's no area poised to find itself in more flux than the offensive line.
It's possible, given the free agent status of starters Chris Williams and Rodger Saffold and the relatively large salary cap hits of center Scott Wells and guard Harvey Dahl, the Rams could be facing up to 80 percent turnover on the offensive line from the start of 2013 to the beginning of 2014. Factoring left tackle Jake Long's need for knee surgery and rehabilitation, the Rams could theoretically be looking at five different starters on opening day 2014 in the most extreme case.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examined that very issue at stltoday.com Wednesday, laying out many of the possibilities and permutations for a massive offensive line renovation.
As I've written in this space before, Saffold is probably the first domino that will shape how the offseason goes. In an ideal world, the Rams would be able to sign him for something in the $6 million per year range and plug him in at right guard with the knowledge that he's also capable of ably filling in at tackle in a pinch.
The Rams are tight against the cap, making retaining both Dahl and Wells at their current projected salary cap numbers of $4 million and $6.5 million unlikely. It's possible they could move on from both.
We'll dive into this topic plenty in the coming weeks but it seems certain the Rams will have to add at least some new faces to the offensive line for 2014. The question is how many and how much they will cost.
A roundup of Wednesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we took a quick look at the Rams' ability to compete with the NFC West division without quarterback Sam Bradford. ... Next, we looked back at the up and down rookie season of receiver Tavon Austin and what needs to happen for him to take the next step in 2014. ... Finally, we examined Rams coach Jeff Fisher's contention that the Rams closed the gap in the NFC West this year despite evidence to the contrary.
Also at stltoday.com, Thomas provides the contract status of the team's offensive line.
Jeff Gordon looks at the spinning coaching carousel around the league.
Turf Show Times provided a handy chart with key statistics and analysis to show where the Rams did and did not improve in 2013.