St. Louis Rams: Chris Clemons

The St. Louis Rams finally dipped their toes into the free-agent waters Tuesday when they agreed to a one-year deal with defensive lineman Alex Carrington.

Carrington was the first outside free agent the team signed with experience playing in the NFL. At Wednesday's owners meetings in Orlando, coach Jeff Fisher indicated the Rams may not be done in free agency.

While there could be others on the team's radar who haven't been brought up or come to St. Louis for visits, let's take a look at what remains on the market and what could still be in the offing for the Rams.
  • The Rams remain in the mix for Tennessee receiver Kenny Britt, who is expected to make a decision at any moment. Britt began a free-agent tour with a stop in St. Louis and has also stopped in Washington, New England and Buffalo. Carolina has also showed interest though the Patriots have indicated they are out of the mix. Fisher expressed optimism that Britt would be a Ram on Wednesday but it seems the receiver is still sifting through his options. It's hard to know what Britt is thinking but it's reasonable to assume the Rams are near the top of his list based on his relationship with Fisher.
  • It seems the speculation surrounding the Rams and quarterback Mark Sanchez has been a bit overblown. The Rams do have some interest but, as our Chris Mortensen first reported, it looks like Sanchez will land in Philadelphia. The Rams want a veteran quarterback as a backup option behind Sam Bradford and possible tutor for a drafted rookie. All signs still point to Shaun Hill being their preferred target. Hill came and went without signing in St. Louis and there's also been talk of him considering a return to Detroit. Hill is recovering from foot surgery, the second year in a row he's had such an operation, and that could be delaying his decision or the team's rush to get something done. If not Hill, there isn't much available on the market in terms of solid veteran backups.
  • In speaking to reporters at the owners meetings, Fisher said the Rams were quickly priced out of the safety market in free agency. He also indicated that a veteran safety could still be an option. For that to happen, a new name previously not publicly connected to the Rams would have to emerge. Chris Clemons, Thomas DeCoud and Patrick Chung are among the remaining options. Clemons is the most accomplished of the group and DeCoud is a known commodity for general manager Les Snead from their time together in Atlanta. Other than speculation, none of these or any other safeties have been tied to the Rams in terms of visits or actual interest at this point.

  • Finally, the offensive line remains a point of consternation among Rams faithful though keeping Rodger Saffold has alleviated many fears. Saffold is slated to start at right guard but the Rams could use another veteran option on the interior. They've visited with or expressed interest in Davin Joseph, Daryn Colledge, Paul McQuistan and Mike McGlynn but so far opted not to sign any of them. They've also said they would have interest in bringing back recently released Harvey Dahl. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Rams decided to land one of the aforementioned vets but they could be waiting for the prices to drop out on the interior lineman market or they might simply be satisfied with looking to continue to upgrade the line through the draft.

    Pending the numbers of the Carrington deal and without the $3 million credit for Cortland Finnegan, the Rams are sitting just below $9 million in cap space. That's enough to make more moves but don't expect anything that comes to exceed the one year "prove it" type of deals being handed out around the league right now.

#NFLRank: A full NFC West accounting

August, 31, 2013
Fifteen San Francisco 49ers and 13 Seattle Seahawks helped the NFC West account for a disproportionate number of players listed in the #NFLRank project from ESPN.

Sixty-three voters helped rank 100 top players on each side of the ball. NFC West teams accounted for 20 players on defense and 16 on offense. The 36-player total works out to 18 percent representation for the NFC West, above the 12.5 percent expectation for any division.

The chart shows where NFC West players ranked on each list. I shaded offensive players in gray to better distinguish the rankings.

The 49ers' Patrick Willis and the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald have long been perceived as the best players in the division. They've got additional competition, but those two ranked higher than anyone else in the NFC West.

There were sure to be oversights in a project of this scope. Defensive end Calais Campbell of the Cardinals stands out to me as the most glaring one. I might have placed him between Patrick Peterson and Chris Long in defensive rankings as they stood for this project.

Three Seahawks cornerbacks earned spots on the list even though one of them, Antoine Winfield, reportedly could be released by the team Saturday in the reduction to 53 players Saturday.

A quick look at ranked players by team:

San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Willis (3), Aldon Smith (10), Justin Smith (11), Vernon Davis (18), NaVorro Bowman (18), Joe Staley (25), Mike Iupati (32), Frank Gore (37), Colin Kaepernick (42), Ahmad Brooks (56), Anthony Davis (60), Donte Whitner (64), Michael Crabtree (78), Anquan Boldin (83) and Jonathan Goodwin (92).

Seattle Seahawks: Richard Sherman (8), Earl Thomas (17), Percy Harvin (26), Marshawn Lynch (27), Brandon Browner (46), Russell Wilson (47), Russell Okung (49), Kam Chancellor (49), Max Unger (57), Bobby Wagner (67), Winfield (70), Cliff Avril (74) and Chris Clemons (85).

St. Louis Rams: Long (40), James Laurinaitis (57), Jake Long (61), Cortland Finnegan (63).

Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald (7), Patrick Peterson (19), Daryl Washington (59) and Darnell Dockett (79).
The NFC West complied with the 75-man roster limit Tuesday by releasing some players and placing others on various reserve lists.

The chart shows how many players each team from the division is carrying by position. Note that figures for defensive lineman and linebacker can be tricky, so a generic "front seven" figure could be more relevant in some cases.

One observation per team:
  • Arizona Cardinals: Injury concerns have led the Cardinals to carry additional players at tight end. Starter Rob Housler suffered a high-ankle sprain and might not be ready for the opener. Veteran Jeff King has not yet played during preseason. The team added Richard Quinn as short-term insurance. Housler and King both passed physicals and have practiced during camp, making them ineligible for the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Both are expected back sooner than PUP rules would allow, anyway. For now, though, their injuries are creating roster challenges. Guard Jonathan Cooper is also ineligible for PUP. He could go on the injured reserve list with a designation for return later in the season.
  • San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have 10 wide receivers on their 75-man roster, tied for most in the NFL even after placing Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham on the PUP list. Four or five of their remaining cuts figure to come at that position. The 49ers' wide receivers are the oldest in the NFL by average age thanks to Anquan Boldin (32) and Kassim Osgood (33). If Osgood sticks on the 53-man roster, special-teams contributions will explain why. Boldin, Jon Baldwin, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore would be by picks if the team kept five.
  • Seattle Seahawks: Defensive end Chris Clemons remained on the roster instead of shifting to the reserve/PUP list, another indication the team thinks he could return from knee surgery sooner rather than later. The PUP designation would allow Clemons to resume practicing between Oct. 15 and Nov. 19, but all signs point to Clemons being ready before that. Seattle needs him, too. Bruce Irvin faces a four-game suspension. Cliff Avril has a hamstring injury that could affect his availability for the opener. Keeping Clemons in play for Week 1 makes sense as long as there's a chance he could be ready by then.
  • St. Louis Rams: The Rams are a little heavy at tight end while Cory Harkey recovers from injury and Lance Kendricks gets back to full speed following knee surgery. The Rams' roster appears pretty normal overall. The decisions looming appear straightforward. That could change as the team continues to build its depth.