Wagoner: Dahl's release no surprise but about that OL
Dahl's release no surprise but about that OL
March, 10, 2014
By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com
That the St. Louis Rams opted to release guard Harvey Dahl on Monday afternoon comes as no shock. Dahl has battled injuries the past two seasons, is 32 and was scheduled to count $4 million against the salary cap in 2014.
While the Rams have clear needs on the offensive line heading into next season, coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead have not been shy about going in another direction when it's time to move on from an older veteran. Put simply, the Rams believe they can get younger and better on the interior of the line even if it means taking Dahl's money and re-directing it elsewhere.
None of that is to say that Dahl wasn't a productive player in his time with the Rams. In fact, Dahl was one of the better free-agent signings the team has made in the recent past. He started 39 games in three years and was a tone-setter and enforcer for an offensive line that improved with him in the lineup. But Dahl's mounting injury issues made keeping him less palatable and his limitations athletically were more obvious when Rodger Saffold took over at right guard late in the season.
Letting Dahl leave, however, does nothing to alleviate concerns over how the Rams offensive line will look next season. With Saffold likely on his way out and fellow guards Shelley Smith and Chris Williams headed to free agency Tuesday, the Rams are wholly unproven at the guard positions.
St. Louis has youngsters on the line it is intrigued by in Brandon Washington and Barrett Jones. The Rams have nine draft picks in May and could get more when compensatory picks are unveiled later this month. They also could pursue another experienced guard to replace Dahl, someone like Kansas City's Geoff Schwartz, who we reported the Rams have expressed interest in earlier Monday.
For all the discussion about the Rams' needs at tackle, it's the interior of the line where the needs are most pressing. Subtracting Dahl could provide the means to plug those holes but until it happens, that's one area that will remain a top priority for the Rams this offseason.