Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Rams add solid DT depth in Carrington
By Nick Wagoner
The St. Louis Rams finally dipped their toes into the free-agent waters Tuesday afternoon, coming to terms on a one-year deal with Buffalo defensive lineman Alex Carrington.
Unlike the recent additions of cornerback Greg Reid and linebacker Etienne Sabino, Carrington is the first player the Rams have added in free agency who has played in the NFL for a different organization. He's also a sound, logical pickup for a team that has clearly coveted more depth on the interior of the defensive line.
The Rams showed early interest in Carrington, Henry Melton and Antonio Smith, even going so far as hosting the latter two on visits. When Melton chose Dallas and Smith opted for Oakland, the Rams concentrated their search for help behind starters Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford on Carrington.
Based on all that movement, the Rams clearly viewed additional help on the interior rotation as one of free agency's main priorities. And rightfully so. Backup defensive tackles Jermelle Cudjo and Matt Conrath didn't provide much help behind the starters in 2013. Cudjo had a strong enough 2012 to earn a contract extension last offseason but followed with 11 tackles and not much else in his 209 snaps in 13 games in 2013. Conrath got opportunities to contribute last year as well, playing eight games and 129 snaps with seven tackles and a sack.
Defensive ends William Hayes and Eugene Sims were actually better options behind the starters when they moved inside but that left Robert Quinn and Chris Long taking on larger than expected workloads every week. Adding another piece to the middle should allow more breathers for Long and Quinn.
In Carrington, the Rams are getting just the type of versatile piece that defensive line coach Mike Waufle likes to groom. At 6-foot-5, 301 pounds, Carrington has lined up all over the line in his four years in Buffalo, though playing end in a 3-4 alignment has been his most consistent spot. That spot is common in terms of translation to defensive tackle in a 4-3 front and, in fact, is the same move Langford made with the Rams after coming over from Miami.
Originally a third-round draft pick out of Arkansas State, Carrington played 44 games in four seasons with the Bills. He posted 52 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble in that time.
The Rams have been patient in free agency and are the last team to sign an outside free agent. And while this one may not make much of a splash on the surface, it looks the part of another under-the-radar defensive line move the Rams have made under coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead (the Hayes signing). Hayes was a fifth-round pick without much on his résumé when he departed Tennessee and has blossomed under the guidance of the well-respected Waufle.
Carrington actually has even less tangible production than Hayes did when he came to St. Louis but it wouldn't be much of a surprise if Waufle and a talented and competitive defensive line group has a similar effect on Carrington.