St. Louis Rams: Kenny Britt

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams are coming down the home stretch of their offseason program with just a pair of organized team activities after Tuesday's practice.

As always, it should be noted that much of what happens in these organized team activities should be taken with a grain of salt (especially for the linemen). The players are not in pads and contact must be extremely limited. It's best not to get too excited or too down on anything that happens.

Ogletree's day: Linebacker Alec Ogletree is coming off a strong finish to his rookie season in which he unseated James Laurinaitis as the team's leading tackler and showed a knack for making big, splashy plays. Much is expected from Ogletree in Year 2 after he seemed to get his feet under him in the second part of last season.

On Tuesday, Ogletree was all over the place in the practice on his way to a couple of interceptions and some other good work in seven-on-seven and team drills. On one play in seven-on-seven, Ogletree ran down the seam with tight end Lance Kendricks and jumped in front of a throw from quarterback Sam Bradford for an interception. He followed by reading a short pass to the flat correctly and jumping on a route, producing what would have been a short gain.

Quick's progress: Receiver Brian Quick had a good day, jumping out early with a good route down the seam for about a 20-yard touchdown from Bradford. He even got his share of work with the first team offense.

Quick is entering his third season, and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer spoke glowingly of the young wideout after practice.

"Probably the most improved player I've seen is Brian Quick," Schottenheimer said. "He's doing a great job. Another guy that we're giving an opportunity to, he's competing for playing time and he's made the most of his opportunities. He started today, again just moving guys around in and out of the lineup trying to create competition, and he's stepped up and made a lot of big plays for us."

Sitting it out: The list of Rams not participating in practice grew larger Tuesday even as the practice rolled on. Receiver Jamaine Sherman, cornerback Trumaine Johnson, safeties Christian Bryant, Maurice Alexander and Matt Daniels, running back Chase Reynolds, linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong, end Sammy Brown, center Scott Wells, left tackle Jake Long, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, end William Hayes and defensive tackle Kendall Langford did not practice.

Armstrong, Wells and Langford are new additions to the list, though their reasons for not practicing are unknown. Armstrong did have a wrap on his right leg and Wells was not present.

Before the practice ended, two more joined the list. Receiver Kenny Britt walked gingerly to a golf cart with an athletic trainer, and cornerback Darren Woodard also walked off before the session was over.

Pead's place: Running back Isaiah Pead has been lost in the shuffle a bit since the Rams found their top two backs in Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham, and then added Tre Mason in the third round of this year's draft. Midway through last season, Pead took a role on special teams and apparently excelled in the role to the point where the Rams view him as one of their most valuable contributors there.

In looking at his role for this season, special teams again figure to be a big part of the plan. Special teams coach John Fassel raved about Pead's work in that area after Tuesday's practice.

"Last year he really committed to special teams and not only was a contributor, he was a high impact guy for us," Fassel said. "I think a lot of people are going to see a lot of growth out of that guy, not only on [special] teams, and I can't speak for offense but I just imagine with his maturity, his work ethic, his ability, I would imagine he's going to have a fantastic preseason."

Pead did plenty of work on coverage units and proved to be a solid contributor as Fassel alluded to, but it's possible his role could expand. Fassel said the Rams would like to take some of the kick return duties off receiver Tavon Austin's plate and mentioned Pead as a possibility.

As for doing some work on offense, Pead has been getting some snaps there. He made a nice catch on a wheel route from Bradford during team drills in what would have gone for a long gain in a game.

What's next: The final OTA open to the media is set for Thursday afternoon and the Rams will conclude offseason business Friday before returning for training camp in July.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Where names like Jerry Rice, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt once dotted the landscape of the NFC West, the role of the wide receiver in the rough-and-tumble division has changed dramatically.

The smash-mouth offensive approach of the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers has set a physical tone that has left the St. Louis Rams looking to duplicate the recipe.

As other teams around the league go in search of gun-slinging quarterbacks and big-play wide receivers, teams like the Seahawks, 49ers and Rams are loading up on physical offensive linemen and powerful running back committees.

[+] EnlargeJared Cook
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesJared Cook led the team with 671 receiving yards last season.
The Rams did their part in May's draft when they used the No. 2 overall pick on massive offensive lineman Greg Robinson and a third-round choice on talented back Tre Mason.

"When you lay your foundation for your skyscraper, it's probably the least exciting thing that you do but that's the thing that holds that skyscraper up for a lot of years," general manager Les Snead said. "It was definitely a strategy that we're going to get our foundation stronger and I think that's going to help us."

It's an approach that's understandable considering the neighborhood the Rams occupy. If you can't win the line of scrimmage or at least manage a stalemate against the likes of Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco, chances are you're going to get left behind.

But just because the days of the Greatest Show on Turf are long gone doesn't mean that a successful passing game isn't part of the blueprint.

On the surface, it's easy to look at a team like Seattle and say it won a Super Bowl by running the ball and playing good defense. In reality, that assertion is too simplistic and a disservice to what the Seahawks' passing game did in 2013.

While receiver production is easily quantified in catches, yards and touchdowns, teams like the Seahawks and Niners aren't as worried about the quantity so much as the quality of those relatively infrequent pass attempts.

For the Rams to keep pace with the NFC West front-runners, that's something they'll have to improve in 2014.

"It's very important," Rams receiver Tavon Austin said. "Like they say, football is a game of inches so when it does come your way, you have definitely got to be ready to make a play to help your team win."

Which brings up the question of what, exactly, the Rams need from their receivers to win in 2014?

Beyond the emphasis the group is putting on run blocking, there must be improvement made when it comes to taking advantage of any chances the passing game yields.

Last year, the Rams finished 29th in dropbacks but 24th in yards per attempt (6.64), yards per completion (10.38) and yards per dropback (5.79). For what it's worth, Sam Bradford ranked 36th in the league in yards per attempt among qualifying quarterbacks with Kellen Clemens checking in at No. 25.

Those numbers are due in large part to an apparent aversion to throwing deep. The Rams were 28th in the league in yards per air attempt -- which measures how far the ball travels on the pass without factoring run after catch -- at 7.56. Adding to that the fact the Rams struggled with hanging on to the ball, finishing second to last in the league with a drop rate of 5.9 percent.

"You have got to be balanced and in order to be balanced, you've got to make big plays in the run and pass game," receiver Chris Givens said. "We have to take advantage of every opportunity. We feel like last year we left too many things on the field."

That's something that didn't happen often in Seattle and San Francisco.

The Seahawks and 49ers ranked second and third, respectively, in rushing attempts in 2013. The commitment to the ground game was evident but also buoyed by the fact that both were capable of making big plays in the pass game when needed.

Seattle ranked 31st in the league in dropbacks but second in yards per attempt (8.35), third in yards per completion (12.12) and fifth in yards per dropback (7.15). San Francisco was last in the league in dropbacks but seventh in yards per attempt (7.70), second in yards per completion (12.21) and ninth in yards per dropback (6.73).

Beyond that, when the Seahawks and Niners did look to pass, they rarely looked to dink and dunk. Seattle ranked seventh and San Francisco third in air yards per attempt in 2013.

Among the receivers on all three teams only San Francisco's Anquan Boldin broke 1,000 receiving yards with 1,179. But Seattle and San Francisco each had at least two receivers with 778 or more yards.

With a young, mostly unproven receiver corps, the Rams are expected to be a run-focused offense with play action passes spinning off any success on the ground. Of course, half the onus also falls on Bradford but they don't necessarily need any of their wideouts to bust loose for a 1,200-yard season or even a 1,000-yard season.

That's probably a good thing since nobody on the team has ever exceeded new addition Kenny Britt's 775 yards in 2010. Tight end Jared Cook led last year's team with 671 receiving yards and Givens was first among receivers with 569.

The Rams are betting on improvement from that group in 2014 but if the passing game can complement the rushing attack and defense like it does in Seattle and San Francisco, it might not be as big of a gamble as it might seem.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- By the time his five-year tenure with the Tennessee Titans came to an end after the 2013 season, wide receiver Kenny Britt had long-since decided he was in dire need of a change of scenery.

Britt's welcome had been worn out in Nashville as injuries and off-the-field incidents accumulated to the point that in a matter of a few seasons he went from potential No. 1 receiver to game day inactive. As he entered free agency, Britt's next career step was unclear other than the fact it would involve a departure from Tennessee.

[+] EnlargeKenny Britt
Jeff Roberson/AP PhotoIn five seasons with the Titans, Kenny Britt caught 157 passes for 2,450 yards and 19 touchdowns.
When the St. Louis Rams and coach Jeff Fisher came calling, the choice picked up a healthy dose of clarity. Although Britt received interest from other teams, his ties to Fisher, the coach who spent a first-round pick on him in 2009, made it an easy decision.

Britt signed a one-year deal with the Rams in April and has quickly found the fresh start he sought at the outset of free agency.

"It’s everything to me, to tell you the truth," Britt said. "My mind is free and relaxed right now. I’m taking this year as a rookie year, like when I first came into the league. That’s my mind state right now."

Britt has wasted little time making his presence felt in St. Louis. The Rams held their second organized team activity Thursday and Britt stole the show for reasons both positive and negative.

During one-on-one passing drills, Britt showed his speed, racing past cornerback Janoris Jenkins for a touchdown from quarterback Shaun Hill from about 40 yards out. On his next rep, Britt did the same to the other starting cornerback, Trumaine Johnson.

Without pads or any sort of designed coverage schemes, there's not much to be taken from the plays but if nothing else, Britt showed some explosion and deep speed on a surgically repaired knee.

"He’s a big, explosive wide receiver who can make plays down the field," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "He’s looked really good in his time here. Watching him and the energy that he comes on to the field with every day has been great, not only for the offense but for that wide receiver corps. I feel like he brings kind of a presence and energy that maybe hasn’t been there in the past."

That presence and energy could be a good thing for a young wide receiving corps in which Britt is the "grizzled" veteran at the ripe old age of 25. With so many young and unproven wideouts surrounding him, Britt's competitive and feisty approach could be a welcome addition to the practice field.

But it's also important for that approach to have its limits. After both of Britt's catches, he was quick to let the young corners know about it. The ensuing trash talk eventually gave way to a fairly serious fight with Johnson. The scrap was enough for Fisher to stop the practice and let his team know such antics would not be tolerated, even going so far as to threaten to kick Britt and Johnson off the practice field.

Competitiveness and attitude are needed and can be a net gain for both the young wideouts and young corners but must also be kept in check.

"We take that on the field, off the field, in the weight room, in the locker room," Britt said. "Guys love it. We're males out there, this is a man's game. That's one thing, when you come between those lines, you compete. When we go in the locker room, we're brothers."

Despite never registering more than 775 yards in a season and with a career tally of 2,450 yards, Britt is still the most accomplished receiver on the team, which speaks to the youth and lack of production from that group.

At 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, Britt cuts an imposing figure as a solution to be the big, physical receiver the team has lacked. His chiseled frame has some teammates already referring to him as "The Incredible Hulk."

Based on early returns, like the Marvel superhero, Britt also must find a way to pick and choose when he lets the beast out of the cage.

“He’s a very emotional kid," Fisher said. "He’s an emotional receiver. He looks the part and he can make the plays. I was really happy to see him come on. He kept himself in really good shape during the free agency period. He came in, has done a great job inside. He’s had no setbacks, feels great physically. He could potentially return to where he was a very productive receiver.”
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams were the last team to jump into the fray of organized team activities. They officially began the work on Tuesday, but Thursday offered the first session open to the media.

As OTA practices go, Thursday's workout came with plenty of fireworks and much more to chew on. Here's what I took away from the day's work:

Scuffles abound: On an overcast day with cool temperatures, tempers ran hotter than one would expect, especially for a second OTA. There were three noticeable scuffles, one involving linebacker Alec Ogletree (his opponent was unrecognizable because the scrum happened too far away and was quickly broken up) that led coach Jeff Fisher to quickly stop practice and tell his team to cool down.

[+] EnlargeKenny Britt
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonRams receiver Kenny Britt caught a long TD pass against Janoris Jenkins during practice on Thursday.
Upon getting back to work, receiver Kenny Britt promptly beat cornerback Janoris Jenkins for a touchdown of about 40 yards then did the same to Trumaine Johnson soon after. Britt let the young corners know about it and eventually it led to a full on fight between he and Johnson. Fisher again stopped practice but this time read his team the riot act with language not fit for print here but audible from about 100 yards away.

Fisher doesn't mind spirited, competitive practices but his message was clear.

"We have some rules we have to abide by and we have to learn to protect each other a little better," Fisher said. "It was very competitive. It started out early. Kenny caught those two deep balls in the 1-on-1s. That kind of got things going, but it was good."

Later, defensive end Michael Sam and running back Isaiah Pead quickly exchanged not-so pleasantries but heeded Fisher's words and quickly separated.

Speaking of Britt: As mentioned above, Britt's two long touchdown catches (both from Shaun Hill) and subsequent reactions spurred the scuffles, but let's not lose sight of the fact that he made those plays in the first place. Britt has an opportunity to start fresh and told reporters after practice that he's viewing this season like he's a rookie starting anew.

Britt is a big, physical player and has already been nicknamed "The Incredible Hulk" by some of his teammates. Clearly, he has some impressive physical skills but he's also a bit emotional. You can look at Britt beating Jenkins and Johnson for long catches and his past off-field issues however you choose, but if nothing else Britt brings an attitude and competitiveness on the practice field that should be a net positive for a young receiver group.

For what it's worth, Britt chose not to address the Instagram post which drew some attention during the draft, saying it is between he and his wife.

Sitting it out: Heading into the practice, we already knew that left tackle Jake Long and end William Hayes would not be practicing. Those two did indeed sit out the workout though they did a little in the individual drills at walkthrough pace.

Joining Long and Hayes on the sideline were quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Chase Reynolds and safeties Maurice Alexander and Christian Bryant. Bradford is expected to participate in Friday's OTA, at least during seven-on-seven. With no injury reports at this time of year, getting an answer on injured players is a difficult proposition but Alexander and Bryant did some work on the side and Reynolds appeared to be moving with a slight limp.

Center Scott Wells also wasn't present as he had an excused absence.

Line dance: With Long and Wells absent, the Rams had to adjust their line on the first day a bit. Sean Hooey filled in for Long at left tackle and Tim Barnes for Wells at center.

The rest of the line was as expected with Greg Robinson at left guard, Rodger Saffold at right guard and Joe Barksdale at right tackle. Wells is expected to return Friday but Long will be out beyond the OTAs.

But the Rams are clearly optimistic that Long will be ready sooner than later. Fisher said Long's target return is the middle of training camp. In the meantime, they don't appear to be in a rush to disturb Saffold or Robinson from their spots at guard.

“We want to go through OTAs and most of camp with players playing the position they’ll play in the opener," Fisher said. "You assume Jake comes back, so we’ll just plug someone else in out there.”
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- True to their word, the St. Louis Rams have been one of the least active teams in free agency this year.

Instead of the big, splashy signings of recent years, the Rams opted to be bargain shoppers with the re-signings of offensive lineman Rodger Saffold and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar as the only deals extending beyond a single year.

That should come as no surprise as the Rams indicated that would be their approach early in the offseason. In sticking to that approach, the team has signed quarterback Shaun Hill, defensive lineman Alex Carrington, receiver Kenny Britt and guard Davin Joseph to one-year deals.

After adding 11 more players through the draft, the roster is mostly set and the initial 53 players to make the team out of camp will probably come from the group that's already in St. Louis. But the Rams could still make a couple of tweaks here and there to add depth, like they did in signing Joseph late last week.

Last year, the Rams continued looking at veteran options deep into the offseason, signing safety Matt Giordano on June 15 and linebacker Will Witherspoon on July 18. Of course, part of the Witherspoon addition later became clear because of a pending suspension for Dunbar, but Witherspoon did provide some much-needed depth behind the starting trio upon Dunbar's return.

Heading into 2014, the Rams have plenty of options at most positions, but linebacker and safety again represent logical positions where veteran depth might be needed.

At linebacker, the starting group of Dunbar, James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree is pretty well set. Ray-Ray Armstrong could push for playing time as he enters his second year, but beyond that, there simply aren't many known quantities in terms of contributing to the defense (and Armstrong isn't really one either). Armstrong and Daren Bates again figure to be core special teams players and the rest of the group includes unknown commodities like Etienne Sabino, Phillip Steward and Tavarius Wilson, among others.

The Rams could use a versatile, reliable veteran capable of playing anywhere in the group. As it stands, Dunbar is the de facto backup to Laurinaitis in the middle but adding someone who could play there as well at outside would make sense.

As for what's left on the market, should the Rams choose to add a veteran, Witherspoon, Pat Angerer, James Anderson, Jonathan Vilma, Desmond Bishop and Dan Connor are among the linebackers still unemployed.

At safety, the Rams have Rodney McLeod, T.J. McDonald and Maurice Alexander who seem all but certain to land roster spots. They'll probably keep four or five at the position leaving competition amongst the likes of Matt Daniels, Cody Davis and Christian Bryant.

Veteran safeties still on the market include Giordano, Quintin Mikell, Ed Reed, Jim Leonhard, Mike Adams and Will Hill.

Of course, all of the names mentioned above come with some sort of red flag -- age, off the field issues or simple lack of productivity -- which is why they're available this late in the game. The Rams have proved time and again they won't add veterans just for the sake of doing it, so any move made would be because they see an obvious upgrade to what they already have.

As the Rams open organized team activities this week, they'll get a chance to evaluate the players already on the roster. From there, they'll be able to determine if they need to dip their toes back into free agency.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With the NFL draft and free agency complete, the St. Louis Rams' 53-man roster will likely come mostly from the players already on the team.

With organized team activities (OTAs) less than a week away, we take a look at where each position stands heading into next week. The next in the series continues today by examining the wide receivers.

Who returns: Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis, Justin Veltung, Emory Blake

Who is new: Kenny Britt, T.J. Moe, Austin Franklin, Jamaine Sherman, Jordan Harris

Who is gone: None

Projected starters: Givens, Austin

Pending competition: There's a lot to sort out at this position. It seems likely Givens will get first crack at nailing down one of the jobs though nothing is guaranteed. After that, Austin is almost certain to play and play a lot though whether he's a "starter" might depend on if the Rams come out in three-wide sets to open the game. Either way, Austin will be on the field and in a role that has him moving all over. From there, it figures to be a battle. Bailey might have earned a shot at playing time with his late-season performance but his four-game suspension complicates matters. The team would probably like to see Quick win the job as he enters Year 3. He's a good blocker on the outside and provides a size element that Givens and Austin don't. But Quick will need to be much more consistent as a pass-catcher. The Rams brought Britt in to push for a job, also, and coach Jeff Fisher clearly believes Britt has the potential to contribute. It's been a while since he produced, though, so he'll also need to prove himself. Pettis still lurks and might have a shot at a reprieve with Bailey's coming absence. If the Rams keep six wideouts, most of the jobs are likely spoken for though they could carry one of the younger guys like Moe, Veltung, etc. for the first four weeks and re-evaluate when Bailey returns.

Outlook: After making Britt the only noteworthy addition at receiver, the Rams sent a clear message that they are willing to bet on the development of the young group they have in place. In fairness, this group hasn't had much of a sample size yet with players like Quick and Givens entering Year 3 and Austin and Bailey beginning Year 2. Still, the time is now for a couple of these guys to validate the team's faith. There's no clear-cut No. 1 wideout but the Rams can get away with that if a couple can be consistent enough to produce in the range of 800 yards. That was the formula Seattle followed to a Super Bowl last season and it can work if paired with a strong run game and defense. Still, until someone proves they can consistently get open outside the hashes from down to down, this is a position that will be closely monitored from the outside.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For the better part of the past decade, any time even a semi-notable wide receiver becomes available or is perceived as available, fans of the St. Louis Rams wonder whether the team will be pursue him.

Just last week, rumors of Houston wideout Andre Johnson's unhappiness with the Texans had some asking if the Rams could pursue him. And when the Cleveland Browns released Greg Little, it brought on even more questions. Those are just two names to add to the list of the likes of Chad Johnson (multiple times), Terrell Owens (multiple times) and many others.

For what it's worth, the Rams don't have the cap space to add Johnson nor do I believe he'll be traded anyway. But the Rams have seemed to make it clear that they are pleased with their current options at the position even with potential starter Stedman Bailey suspended the first four games of the season for violation of the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.

Early in the offseason, Rams general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher voiced confidence in the team's current receiver corps but it was fair to wonder whether that faith remained after the team signed Kenny Britt to a one-year deal in free agency.

But the team's belief in the wideouts was on display again when it chose not to use any of its 11 picks on a receiver.

As it stands, Chris Givens and Britt are the most "proven" of the wideouts on the roster but neither has an extensive history of production. Without the services of Bailey, that duo would seem poised to have the first shot at starting on the outside with Tavon Austin working in the slot and mixing in outside the numbers.

Brian Quick is back for his third season and this year is clearly important for him since he has yet to reach the potential the Rams saw in him when they used the first pick of the 2012 second round to select him. Quick is a solid blocker and could play plenty because of that but will need to develop consistency as a route runner and pass catcher before his role can expand beyond that.

Austin Pettis also returns for his fourth year, making him the longest tenured receiver on the roster. He's the wideout whose playing time dipped the most toward the end of the season when Bailey started getting more reps though he worked back into the mix when Austin suffered an ankle injury. Pettis looked to be the odd man out heading into this year but could get a reprieve without Bailey in the first quarter of the season.

The Rams have some other options on the roster in the likes of Justin Veltung, Emory Blake and T.J. Moe but they aren't likely to get many chances to play right away.

As they are with a handful of positions on the roster, the Rams are counting on player development to help the young receiver corps become productive. The Rams never really considered taking a receiver in the draft, even at the top of it, because of their faith in the group they already have. Only time will tell if that gamble pays off.
The NFL draft is set to begin May 8 and the St. Louis Rams hold 12 picks. For the next week and a half, we'll take a look at a different position every day with what the Rams have in place, what they need, when they might address it and some possible fits.

We continue the countdown with a look at this year's crop of wide receivers.

In place: Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Stedman Bailey, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis, Kenny Britt, Justin Veltung, Emory Blake

What's needed: For the past two drafts, the Rams have made a habit of doubling down on receivers, grabbing Quick and Givens in 2012 and Austin and Bailey in 2013. Those picks were all made within the first four rounds, including the move up to No. 8 to acquire Austin last season. To varying degrees, each of those four players has flashed potential to be a successful NFL wideout, though it's still too early to project how high that ceiling goes for any of them. In the case of Givens and Quick, both bring a different skill set to the table with Givens having accomplished more in his rookie year than Quick did in his first two combined. Austin appeared to be coming on late last year before an ankle injury cost him the final three games. Bailey also flashed at the end of last year and figures to have an expanded role in 2014.

Pettis has, at times, been a useful target in the red zone and third down but fell further down the depth chart as the season wore on. The team added Britt in free agency and is hopeful he can provide the size element that Quick hasn't yet but it remains to be seen.

In terms of depth, the Rams seem to be trending fine at receiver. The problem here is a lack of a clear-cut No. 1 option who can consistently win one-on-one battles against cornerbacks outside the hashes. Bailey showed a bit of that ability and Givens and Austin have showed they can be deep threats with Austin also excelling on crossing routes. Perhaps it's too early to make sweeping generalizations about the group as a whole but a true No. 1 receiver would go a long way in bolstering the offense.

Possible fits: The obvious name linked to the Rams here is that of Clemson's Sammy Watkins. The Rams have lacked a receiver of Watkins' pedigree and ability since Torry Holt and Watkins is the first wideout of that caliber they've had a chance to draft since Holt and Isaac Bruce were at the end of their run. The Rams have showed plenty of interest in Watkins, bringing him in for a visit and putting him through a private workout. Texas A&M's Mike Evans would also be an intriguing option and another the team brought to St. Louis for a "top 30" visit. Evans brings the size to win jump balls on the outside and would likely step into the role the team envisioned for Quick. Beyond the top two, it's a deep receiver class with excellent talents such as LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. and USC's Marqise Lee also on the board. The Rams also showed some interest in Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin and South Carolina's Bruce Ellington.

Verdict: The Rams have played their plans at No. 2 overall extremely close to the vest but it's safe to assume Watkins is in the conversation. If the Rams can't find a trade down partner, it's a discussion that likely boils down to a choice of three players (assuming Jadeveon Clowney goes No. 1) Watkins, Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews. The interest in Watkins is real and it's possible the team would take him but it's still unclear whether they'd prioritize him over Robinson or Matthews. If the Rams can find a trade partner and Watkins remains on the board while the tackles go, the problem is solved. If they move down and all three are gone, perhaps Evans enters the conversation. With a dozen picks, it's likely the Rams take a receiver at some point in the draft. It's always possible a wideout not taken at the top could fit the bill as a No. 1 eventually but if the Rams are truly in the market for an upgrade to the position, they'll come away with one of the top two.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The details of new St. Louis Rams receiver Kenny Britt's contract are in and, like the other free-agent deals the Rams struck this offseason, Britt's deal is the definition of a one-year prove it contract.

Britt's deal with the Rams won't break the bank, but there is potential for Britt to earn some reachable incentives if he can stay healthy and produce. Likewise, if Britt is unable to provide much, the Rams can part ways with him without much lost.

Here's how Britt's one-year contract looks for those of you keeping score at home:


Base salary: $1 million
Roster bonus: Up to $250,000 -- Britt received a $50,000 roster bonus on April 7, which is treated as signing bonus. If he is on the 53-man roster for first game, he gets an additional $100,000 roster bonus and from there he can earn an additional roster bonus of $6,250 per game for every game he's amongst the 46 active players on game day up to a maximum of $100,000. For now, $75,000 of the possible additional roster bonus counts against the cap based on his 2013 playing time.
Cap value: $1.375 million
Cash value: $1.4 million
Guaranteed money: $500,000
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams took their time wading into the free-agent market this year and with most of the shopping seemingly done and focus turning toward the draft, we can take stock of what the team did and didn't get done in free agency.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Rams were tied with Green Bay and New Orleans as the least active teams in free agency. St. Louis signed just three free agents who played on a different team in 2013, adding quarterback Shaun Hill, defensive lineman Alex Carrington and wide receiver Kenny Britt.

All of those moves came well after the initial, most expensive wave of free agency and none of those deals are longer than a single season. The Rams' biggest move was the one they intended to make all along, signing offensive lineman Rodger Saffold to a lucrative five-year contract extension after his deal with Oakland fell apart for a failed physical.

It's been long-held NFL dogma that the best teams build through the NFL draft rather than spending big in free agency and the Rams made it clear early on that they intended to be patient if not silent in free agency. They followed through on that promise but what's most interesting is the company they kept among the other teams that were least active in the market.

Nine teams added just three or four outside free agents in the first month of free agency. Of those nine teams, only the Rams with their three additions and Dallas (four) did not make the playoffs in 2013. Joining Green Bay and New Orleans on the list, Seattle, San Francisco, New England, Kansas City and Indianapolis each signed only a quartet of players.

It stands to reason that teams who are mostly happy with their rosters and have won plenty of games wouldn't be looking to spend big money in free agency. While Dallas and the Rams' presence on that list could also be attributed to limited salary-cap space, in the Rams' case it's also indicative of a front office and coaching staff that believes in the ability of its young talent to ascend in 2014.

Rams general manager Les Snead has indicated multiple times that the thing his young team needs the most is experience and there's apparently a strong belief that the young talent in place can all take the necessary steps forward to help the Rams improve in 2014. Whether that happens remains to be seen but at least in terms of free agency, that faith in the team's young players clearly isn't just lip service.
It took a week but wide receiver Kenny Britt is officially a member of the St. Louis Rams.

Britt signed his contract Monday, allowing his name to appear on the NFL transaction report later in the day. That was the last piece to him formally joining the team. His physical was done last week as was the rest of the paperwork.

Last Monday, Britt agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million, giving the Rams eight receivers with the NFL draft nearing. The maximum value of Britt’s contract is reported to be $2.9 million.
The St. Louis Rams agreed to terms with former Tennessee receiver Kenny Britt on a one-year contract Monday night.

Britt spent his first five seasons with the Titans; the first two under now Rams coach Jeff Fisher's guidance.

ESPN Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky has been there for all of it so who better to ask about Britt's potential impact on the Rams?

Kuharsky and Rams reporter Nick Wagoner discuss the Rams' latest move.

[+] EnlargeKenny Britt
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyIn five NFL seasons, Kenny Britt has never caught more than 45 passes or gained more than 775 yards.
Wagoner: Britt had his greatest success under Fisher in 2009 and 2010, what can you say about the relationship those two had and do you think working with Fisher again can help him get his career on track?

Kuharsky: I think Britt needs a disciplinarian and Fisher is more likely to qualify as an enabler. I obviously don't know the style of coordinator and position coach in St. Louis. The late Mike Heimerdinger, Fisher's coordinator in Tennessee, was the big Britt backer and the guy who knew how to get to him and use him, I believe. I don't know whether Fisher can pick up on those things and reconnect with him.

Wagoner: Will be interesting to see whether the Rams can find the recipe to try to rekindle that early success. I'm sure offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will comb through that old film and try to find ways to use him. On the bright side, Britt seems to have the ability to get off press coverage and win contested balls. That should be helpful.

Speaking of that, it seems Britt has always tantalized with potential but never been able to put it all together. How much has injury held him back and how much of it is his own doing? Do you think he can make the changes necessary to succeed?

Kuharsky: Britt always has a smile on his face. It's preferable to pouting, sure. But he's pretty happy-go-lucky whether he is lighting it up or completely tanking, as he did last year. I think that one-year contract is a reasonable risk. A team counting on production from him, instead of thinking any numbers he puts up are a bonus, is living dangerously. Certainly he's not been the same since the major knee injury. From my vantage point, at the end it was way more about his head than his knee.

Wagoner: The Rams have long been desperate for a No. 1 receiver. It seems expecting that from Britt is too much but what do you think would be reasonable expectations for him in St. Louis?

Kuharsky: Look at what Donnie Avery and Darrius Heyward-Bey did the past two seasons in Indianapolis after joining the Colts on one-year deals. I would hope Britt can get it together and be a bit better than those guys were. But if you made me bet? It's more likely he's close to those results.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams agreed to terms with wide receiver Kenny Britt on a one-year deal Monday evening in an attempt to bolster a position that could use the help.

Whether the Rams had any interest in using one of their top picks (Nos. 2 and 13) in May's NFL draft on a wide receiver, Britt's signing should have no bearing on those plans.

First and foremost, Britt's contract is the definition of a one-year "prove it" deal. The idea is to get him into St. Louis and give him a chance to resurrect a once promising career. But the Rams aren't counting on him to take over and magically be the No. 1 receiver they have long lacked. To do so would be awfully short-sighted, and the fact that his contract is only a year and heavy on incentives should indicate that the Rams are simply taking a chance on a player who has flashed ability in the past.

This isn't like signing a DeSean Jackson or Mike Wallace or Vincent Jackson to a multi-year mega-contract. Those are the types of contracts that can significantly change draft ideas.

Teams that are able to win consistently look beyond the next year and plan for the next four or five years. It's hard to see how the Rams can do anything but look solely at this spring and this training camp with Britt. If he hits and it works out, great, but that won't be determined until well after the draft.

Maybe the more interesting takeaway from Britt's signing is that the Rams are at least acknowledging the need for help at a position that coach Jeff Fisher and Les Snead have indicated multiple times they have confidence in. If that is the case, perhaps they actually are curious about adding more help at receiver in the draft.

It's also possible the Rams wouldn't have added any receivers if it wasn't for the availability of a player Fisher knew well and believed in. Either way, the Rams still don't have a receiver who has ever posted more than 775 receiving yards in a season.

Since the Rams aren't going to reveal what their draft plans are, there is no way of knowing how they view the possibility of taking a wideout. But it's probably a safe bet that signing Britt won't make a difference one way or the other.

Whenever St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher or general manager Les Snead have been asked about the potential to add help at wide receiver this offseason, both have reverted to the vote of confidence method, choosing to express their faith in the team's current crop of young receivers.

Apparently that confidence goes only so far, as ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Monday evening that the Rams agreed to terms on a one-year deal with former Tennessee wide receiver Kenny Britt. According to Schefter's report, the deal with Britt is for one year and $1.4 million with $550,000 guaranteed and could be worth as much as $2.9 million with incentives.

In every sense of the word, the contract is a "prove it" deal, which will give the perennially underachieving Britt a chance to establish himself and take another bite of the free-agent apple again next year. If there's any place where Britt can get his once promising career on track, St. Louis would seem to be it.

Britt entered the league as a first-round pick of Fisher's Tennessee Titans in 2009 and had his two most productive seasons under Fisher as a rookie and in 2010. That familiarity almost certainly made the Rams appealing to Britt as he searched for a fresh start.

[+] EnlargeKenny Britt
AP Photo/Wade PayneAfter a promising start to his career, Kenny Britt has struggled the past three seasons.
Beyond that, the Rams also offer Britt a world of opportunity for a bounce back on the field. The Rams' young receiving corps has yet to produce a consistent performer capable of being quarterback Sam Bradford's top target week in and week out. At 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, Britt has the size and has occasionally flashed the potential to become that player in the past.

There are also reasons why adding Britt doesn't make much sense, either.

Back in January, Snead made it clear that for the Rams to add help at receiver they'd want that player to be a clear upgrade over the players already in place so as not to take away much-needed reps from the youngsters.

"A guy like that always can help your team," Snead said. "Here’s what you've got to weigh: If you think this particular player is close and the only way to get from close to there is play, when you bring in [another player] ... he's not going to play as much. You're still waiting. I think what seals the deal, if the process works, all these guys get experience, they grow together and, guess what, at the end of the year you have more than seven wins and if that's the case everybody goes, 'OK, it's worked out.'"

Whether or not Britt fits the bill as a clear upgrade is certainly up for debate. Since entering the league, he has had no shortage of off-field troubles, enough to earn him a one-game suspension in 2012. He also has had his share of injury troubles, tearing an ACL and MCL in 2011 and battling with persistent knee troubles the past few seasons.

Be it injury issues or off-the-field incidents, Britt's on-field production has taken a major hit since Fisher left Tennessee. In two years under Fisher, Britt had 84 catches for 1,476 yards and 12 touchdowns. In three seasons since, he has posted 73 grabs for 974 yards and seven touchdowns as drops and penalty issues became a factor.

By the end of the 2013 season, Britt's struggles earned him a place on the inactive list in three of the final four games.

Where Britt fits with the Rams remains to be seen but it seems like a pretty large leap to expect someone who has produced so little in recent years to come in and take over the No. 1 duties despite past flashes of potential.

In five years, Britt has never had more than 45 catches or 775 receiving yards in a season, numbers that hardly put him in the discussion of a proven wide receiver. In fact, those numbers actually fit in quite nicely with the rest of the Rams' current crop of receivers.

Fortunately for the Rams, Britt's not being compensated in a way that requires No. 1 type of production.

It's fair to wonder if Britt, who is only 25, can ever reach the potential he once flashed in Tennessee, and if his presence could be a negative for an impressionable group of young receivers. Of course, if anyone can get Britt's career back on track, it's probably Fisher.

Like the rest of the Rams' free-agent moves this offseason, adding Britt is a low-risk proposition. But it's also one that shouldn't come with the great expectations that Britt's career once carried.
After a quiet first two weeks of free agency, business has picked up for the St. Louis Rams this week. In a 48-hour span, the team added depth at defensive tackle and quarterback in the form of Alex Carrington and Shaun Hill.

And the Rams aren't done yet. By all accounts, they are hopeful that Tennessee receiver Kenny Britt will be next on their list of additions.

At the owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., general manager Les Snead told Pro Football Talk that he believed the Rams' chances of landing Britt were "better than 50 percent."

When asked about a possible reunion with his former Titans pupil, Rams coach Jeff Fisher echoed Snead's sentiments.

“I will stand behind what [Les] said," Fisher said. "We’ve been down here and pretty busy, but I’m hoping that sometime very soon we’ll get something done.’’

Britt has had no shortage of interest or visits during his first free-agent experience. He's already visited St. Louis and, according to, cleared any medical issues with the Rams. He's also taken trips to New England, Washington and Buffalo and drawn at least minimal interest from Carolina. New England owner Robert Kraft indicated in Orlando that the Patriots are no longer in the Britt sweepstakes.

A decision from Britt could come at any time. Britt tweeted Sunday afternoon that "the whole world wanna know where Kenny Britt going ... I'm like homie just wait on it ... Lol."

In reality, there are a few people who hold mild interest in where Britt lands, but it's safe to say the Rams fall into that category.

Fisher was Tennessee's coach in 2009 when the Titans used a first-round pick on Britt. He coached him in 2010 before stepping away from the game the following year. Britt's two best seasons came those first two seasons under Fisher though Britt has never mustered more than 775 yards in a season. Clearly, Fisher believes there's more production that can be pulled from Britt if given a fresh start.

In the time since Fisher first coached him, Britt has had more than his share of off-field problems and struggled with knee injuries. Those issues will likely yield a one-year "prove it" contract at this point in free agency. All that remains to be seen is where he lands.