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Monday, January 6, 2014
Fisher expecting more continuity for Rams

By Nick Wagoner

ST. LOUIS -- Last week in this space, we discussed St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher's expectation that there would be no changes to his coaching staff this offseason.

The roster, of course, is a different story. With plenty of needs on the roster and a number of key free agents set to hit the market, there's sure to be roster turnover but Fisher made it clear he expects a bit more continuity than what's taken place in his first two offseasons in St. Louis.

“I would expect that we would have less (roster turnover)," Fisher said last week. "But there’s always going to be turnover. In good teams, there’s 15 or 20 percent turnover in rosters, so I think we’d have less than we had last year. Certainly significantly less than two years ago.”

When Fisher and general manager Les Snead arrived in St. Louis they began a radical makeover of the roster that resulted in a turnover of about 60 percent from the opening day roster of 2011 to the 53-man roster of opening day 2012. Along with that, the Rams became the youngest team in the league in 2012. Many of the players they waived goodbye to were out of the league soon after the Rams parted ways.

The Rams began putting the young pieces in place for the future that offseason and when they attacked free agency and the draft in 2013, they made their share of changes but the turnover was indeed far less than it was in 2012. The 2013 opening day roster had about half the turnover of the previous offseason, giving the Rams a chance to establish some more continuity on the roster.

Each of the first two off seasons of the Fisher and Snead era has seen them pursue two or three high-priced free agents to supplement their emphasis on building through the draft. Draft day trades brought out an expanded rookie class in 2012 but the Rams actually trimmed that number with moves in last year's draft.

As they prepare for this offseason, the Rams have question marks abound on the offensive line and in the secondary. Armed with a couple of extra draft picks, including the No. 2 overall choice from Washington, and little in the way of cap room, it seems unlikely the Rams will make many alterations via free agency.

Considering the Rams will likely need to release some high-priced veterans to have workable salary cap space, it's entirely possible that whatever roster turnover the Rams do incur  could actually make them the youngest team in the league for the third consecutive year in 2014. If that's the case, the continuity on the roster and with the coaching staff could be particularly valuable for the team moving forward.