In The NFL, in Predicting Off_Season, Follow the Money
Heck, let's face it, it would probably be easier, at least on the surface, to build a team if tere wasn't the salary cap restrictions. However, there would also be far less talent available now without cap cuts, so that kind of evens out.
The cap causes a team like the Jets to show their best player, and arguably the best at hs position in the NFL. That's because you have to spread out your big money deals across the roster.
In the sace of the Rams, we are all predicting stuff based on the team needs, when we should be looking more closely at the money side. A good GM wants an equal amount to be going on each side of the ball as much as possible, at least in the grand scheme.
Certain players become so essential on and off the field, they are priority one to sign, and the market IS the market. But after those core guys, balance is a necessity.
First round picks, due to the new cap rules, get less than they used to, but teams can pnly spread the guaranteed amount for 5 years, and they now know their best paid rookies will have to be re-signed in their prime, or franchised.
So you have to count the guys you draft in round one as among your highest paid from the start, and that in turn, could affect what positions you go for in the first two rounds, round one for sure.
The Rams high paid guys, with the exception of Sam Bradford , Steven Jackson, Scott Wells and Harvey Dahl, are all on defense. Their four defensive linemen, their middle linebacker, and their top corner, go into the future as the biggest part of their cap number, along with safety Quentin Mikell, who may or may not be back, depending on his salary demands to restructure.
Now that Jackson is more and more seemingly an ex-Ram, probably the right thing at this point, you can see the drastic imbalance toward the defense. When it comes to the biggest, highest paid "skill positions" on offense, tackle, wide receiver, tight end, and running back, the Rams won't have a lot invested.
To me, that means the Rams will be adding what they need on offense as a priority.
I would take a multi year, high cap deal for any defensive player, or a possible first round selection for one off the table. If the Rams pick two guys in round one, I predict both will be toward offense, and I see any big money signings, and I see two for the Rams, going on offense as well.
Judging by the available crops; draft, trade, or free agent wise, even factoring restricted FA, I see tackle as the most likely free agent target. The Rams could still add another tackle on draft day, possibly as high as round two, with big need an Saffold a free agent next year.
If they go mid level at RT with Loadholt, Baker, Winston, (who can play LT), or Bushrod (ditto @ LT), they should have enough for Cook or Keller. If they fail at that effort, there are a couple TE in the draft they would then turn to, but not necessarily in round one.
If Amendola and Gibson are gone, the Rams will need to add a veteran and a highly drafted talent, maybe 2.
The cost of Greg Jeffries, Mike Wallace, Wes Welker, maybe even Amendola, make this a bad year to go after free agent receivers. The money will be just too crazy. Brian Hartline got a 5 year $6 million a year deal in Miami.
The key guy on the Rams staff is Ray Sherman, who is tremendously respected, just as Henry Ellard was while here, and HIS input, and hopefully somthing from Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, could carry some weight when the Rams rank the deep, but not great at the top, WR crop.
All have questions, but some had great college st ats, while others have the kind of speed the NFL covets.
I could see the Rams first three picks being a guard, a tackle and a wide receiver, not necessarily in that order. They could surprise by taking a RB first, and will surely take one in the middle of this draft.
If they sign a veteran RB, it would have to be a big specialty guy at a lower price.
SO how do they fill those holes at safety, dime back, and outside linebacker, plus retain or replace WIlliam Hayes?
The same way they found Hayes, and Danny Amendola, and other r ole players in the past.
The waiver wire is full on guys who will be happy to get a one year deal to prove they deserve more, guys the Rams can replace with all those picks in 2014.
There will be round four safeties who will be an upgrade to Craig Dahl, so I would pass on one early. Not one stands out above the first five or six anyway, and there are a couple small school slepers who could be the best of the lot.