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Is Chris Williams in Rams' 2014 plans?

2/25/2014

According to St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, Rodger Saffold isn’t the only free-agent starting guard the team would like to have back in 2014.

With the potential for major turnover on the offensive line, Fisher indicated Friday that the Rams would like to solidify the interior by bringing back Saffold and pairing him with another incumbent, veteran Chris Williams.

“Yeah, we had a really good visit when he left,” Fisher said. “He’d like to come back and it makes sense that we would try.”

Williams was the only offensive lineman to start all 16 games for St. Louis in 2014, lining up at left guard throughout the season.

That durability, along with his versatility -- he also served as a backup swing tackle -- were welcome additions to an offensive line that had a relative lack of both last season.

Fisher said Williams’ value went beyond simply showing up and staying on the field.

“He played good, he was solid,” Fisher said. “When you don’t hear his name, you don’t talk about him.”

While Williams was reliable, left guard remains a position that could definitely use an upgrade. Williams had some good moments as a run blocker but for the most part struggled against bigger, more physical fronts in the NFC West.

When the Rams traveled to San Francisco, Arizona and Seattle late in the season, Williams had some extremely rough outings, particularly against the Cardinals.

For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus graded Williams at minus-21.8, the worst grade of any player on the team.

If nothing else, bringing Williams back figures to be a relatively cheap option to fill a possible hole on the offensive line. He played on a one-year, $1.376 million contract with incentives in 2013 and a similar deal might make sense if the Rams choose to bring him back.

Should the Rams lose Saffold, bringing Williams might make even more sense given his ability to play guard and tackle. Beyond Williams, the Rams also have guard Brandon Washington, a player they still have hopes for and whom they carried on the roster most of the season. Shelley Smith is another option, though he too is an unrestricted free agent.

In an ideal world, Williams is probably best suited as a utility backup capable of playing anywhere on the line and backing up at four positions. But if the Rams intend to improve the offensive line in 2014, improving at left guard is a necessity.