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Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Insiders give Rams C-plus for free agency

By Nick Wagoner

As the waves of free agency have crashed ashore much faster than usual, the shelves that were once stocked with veteran options are now almost bare.

ESPN Insider Mike Sando, with the help of fellow insiders Louis Riddick, Matt Williamson and Field Yates, decided to take stock of how each team has fared in free agency and hand out grades.

In what has been an extremely quiet free-agent period for the Rams, Sando gave the Rams a C-plus for retaining starting offensive lineman Rodger Saffold and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar while allowing other marginal starters to head elsewhere.

Here's a small piece of Riddick's evaluation of the Rams' approach:
"I don't know if there was anyone out in free agency who they felt could come in and help, but they have been burned in free agency anyway with Cortland Finnegan, Harvey Dahl and you could make a case for Scott Wells. They need to find an impact player in the draft."
It's hard to disagree with that assessment and I believe the Rams were right to avoid trying to get involved with big-ticket free agent items like safety Jairus Byrd. They haven't had good luck with those high-priced free agents and they are going to have expensive pieces to re-sign in the near future in defensive end Robert Quinn and, if things go how they hope, quarterback Sam Bradford.

Still, it's been a bit of a surprise that the Rams haven't made more of an effort to add some mid-level free agents in the secondary or perhaps on the offensive line. There are still a few names out there who could be useful pieces but to this point, the Rams have come up empty other than taking a flier on a cornerback and linebacker who are far from locks to make the roster.

Sando also makes a good point about the team's offensive line. While keeping Saffold was crucial, the Rams are counting on three players -- Saffold, left tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells -- who have had serious injury issues in recent seasons. That was a big question surrounding the offensive line going into last year and it remains one now. Adding young talent in the draft remains a necessity for that group.