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  1. #1
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?
    by VanRam on Feb 6, 2009 6:44 AM CST in 2009 Off-Season

    One need the Rams have is for a big guy in the middle of their line, a center who can handle the tough matchups against big DTs crashing the pocket or clogging up running lanes. Romberg and Leckey, who get points for giving 110%, were too easily pushed aside. They just aren't the answer. This year's draft has a number of quality prospects at C projected to go on the first day, but with the Rams looking at OTs in the draft as well, loading up on the o-line early comes at a cost of missing players of need at other positions. Also, Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat raised a point about development with new centers, that it can take some time for them to learn the game. So who are the free agents available at C?

    Jason Brown, Baltimore, 26 - The best of the lot, and there's no way the Ravens don't franchise him or give him a new contract.

    The group starts to get old from there.

    Matt Birk, Minnesota, 33 - He would be a nice addition. He's older, but hasn't missed time since '05. Cost/benefit analysis leans against him given the added injury risk his age brings to a unit long-suffering from injuries, unless the Rams had a young guy on the roster who needed a year to develop.

    Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis, 34 - He missed four games last year, and the Colts sorely missed him. This article says that the Colts have a history letting their over-30 free agents walk, making it seem likely that Saturday would hit the free agent market. Again, one of these old guys would be fine at the right price, so long as the Rams have a better backup. Say, Richie Incognito did pretty well at center in 2006; I wonder what the new regime thinks of moving him back there?

    Brad Meester, Jacksonville, 32 - Meester meessed 11 games over the last two seasons, 'nuff said.

    The list of free agent centers starts to get thin after that, and Richie Incognito would be as good of a solution as the others on the free agent list (one here and one here).

    There's one more option, a backup who had the chance to shine in '08, now itching to get out there and prove his starting mettle. Carolina's Geoff Hangartner, 26, is a versatile OL, who's started at C and G in his time with the Panthers, including 11 games this season when they had the third best rushing offense in the league, per DVOA. With so many top guys set for free agency, i.e. Jordan Gross and Julius Peppers, it's likely the Panthers will be unable/unwilling to give Hangartner starting money, which he could get elsewhere. Getting a guy like this could be a real benefit to the Rams.

    :ramlogo:

  2. #2
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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    I'd really prefer that we didn't have to turn to a Birk or Saturday. Matt Birk brings a lot to the table, but I really doubt we'd get more than a year or two from him before he retired. Just based on that blurb, Hangartner sounds like an under the radar option, but it still might make more sense to try to land our future center in the draft.

  3. #3
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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    If Mack or Unger are in the second round in the draft when we pick, we NEED to pick one of these guys. They can play for many years rather than a few.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

  4. #4
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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    Hangartner has gotten NFL experience and is only 26. Seems like he should be able to play for many years also.
    Semper Fi!

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    Azul e Oro is online now Registered User
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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    Didn't Hangartner lose his spot to Kalil? Maybe Flajole will be able to share/get the inside scoop on him.

    Maybe he's the next Doug Smith but I doubt it.Sounds more like a guy who's going to get starter money more on market forces than performance.

    We don't need Birk; we need the NEXT Birk. Mack or Unger are the "easy" answer - nothing's easy with all our needs- but maybe Devaney can unearth the next Doug Smith deeper in the draft or FA.

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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    There are some quality centers out there, along with other offensive lineman. I can see the Rams possibly going after one or two of these:

    Matt Birk, UFA, Minnesota Vikings
    Birk is a Pro Bowl center that has gotten the job done for the Vikings for the last decade. He’s fairly athletic for a lineman and was playing alongside another great lineman in guard Steve Hutchinson, making Birk’s life even easier on the field the past couple of seasons. He’s grounded in Minnesota, so the chances of him choosing to leave seem slim at the moment. However, Minnesota is grooming John Sullivan in hopes that he will eventually replace Birk.


    Mike Goff, UFA, San Diego Chargers
    While the Chargers would probably prefer to keep Goff, the franchise has been effective in drafting and developing linemen and might look for Goff’s replacement at a better price. Goff has been a leader who simply goes about his business and players like running back Ladainian Tomlinson have benefited from his level of play. Goff has played for a quality line for some time and he’s a big part of the equation when it comes to success.


    Jordan Gross, UFA, Carolina Panthers
    A first round pick in 2003, Gross earned a starting role in his rookie season and held that role as a tackle for the entire season. His ability to step in and play well right away paid off for the Panthers, as the team put together a run to an NFC Championship that season. He’s continued being a starter since that rookie season and is a solid player. Carolina slapped the franchise tag on him for this season, and chances are he will be another team come ’09.


    Mark Tauscher, UFA, Green Bay Packers
    Tauscher is a seventh round pick that became a success story. In his first season in the NFL, he was forced into a starting role because of an injury to another player. Tauscher isn’t an elite player, but he is solid in his role as a starter and hadn’t missed a game since 2002 until this season. Tauscher could be at the top of many team’s lists because he could come cheaper than some of the other free agent lineman, but could be nearly or equally effective.


    Marvel Smith, UFA, Pittsburgh Steelers
    Smith may not be the most sought after offensive lineman during free agency, but he could be a bargain for a team willing to chance his health concerns by offering him a contract. He is a Pro-Bowl player with a Super Bowl ring, but back injuries have forced him to miss time this season and to be placed on injured reserve, thus impacting his potential value on the market. When healthy, Smith is one of the league’s best and Pittsburgh will attempt to keep him around because of the quality of player he has shown he can be.


    Jahri Evans, RFA, New Orleans Saints
    Since starting every game at the guard position in his rookie season, Evans has proven to be a quality lineman. He was drafted in the fourth round, but is in for a decent-sized contract this offseason. Any team in the market for a guard is going to consider Evans and the fact that he has helped protect for quarterback Drew Brees and an offense that has had plenty of time to operate and rack up yards. The Saints will look to keep Evans around, but there is bound to be a team willing to tempt him with a fair amount of money.


    Jason Brown, RFA, Baltimore Ravens
    A fourth round selection in ’05 for the Ravens, Brown played in all sixteen games in ’06, starting in twelve of those appearances, and has started each game during the past two seasons. He is a quick guard who can also play center in a pinch. Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco benefited from the protection he was afforded by the likes of Brown. Baltimore’s offense is asked to complement one of the league’s best defensive units and Brown’s stability on the line has been critical. Whichever team winds up signing Brown will be adding security at a guard spot.



    Jeff Saturday, UFA, Indianapolis Colts
    Saturday entered the league with little fanfare as an undrafted free agent. Now, he has become one of the league’s best centers and will command a decent contract for his experience and performance. Having already earned three Pro Bowl and All Pro selections and a Super Bowl ring, Saturday is crucial to the Colts offensive line and winning ways. While a handful of teams could make a run at Saturday, expect the Colts to do everything in their power to retain the veteran center.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Azul e Oro is online now Registered User
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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    Several interesting options for guard, BRM, but no starting centers who are young and healthy enough to beat out a draftee-doesn't have to be Unger or Mack; Luigs,etc- except for Saturday.

    And I have a hard time believing that a team that picked their team's QB coach as uncontested successor to Dungy won't be hearing it from said QB if his Pro Bowl center doesn't get re-signed.

    Put another way,the king's word is law & I think King Peyton is likely to be a little pickier than some kilt-wearing Clannies may be about between whose big hairy buns he keeps his hands warm.

    Uh-oh... I'm gonna regret that comment if we ever meet at a Bay Area Clan bash, aren't I?! LOL

    here's a limerick to ease your wrath & save me some lumps:

    In days of old
    When knights were bold
    And the loo was not invented
    They'd dig a hole
    'neath any tree bole
    And sit there quite contented.

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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    No offense taken. Although I was confused by the description of hairy buns, being that I routinely have a Brazilian wax to stay smooth as a baby's bottom!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    Quote Originally Posted by Azul e Oro View Post
    Didn't Hangartner lose his spot to Kalil? Maybe Flajole will be able to share/get the inside scoop on him.

    Maybe he's the next Doug Smith but I doubt it.Sounds more like a guy who's going to get starter money more on market forces than performance.

    We don't need Birk; we need the NEXT Birk. Mack or Unger are the "easy" answer - nothing's easy with all our needs- but maybe Devaney can unearth the next Doug Smith deeper in the draft or FA.
    No Kalil took Justin Hartwigs spot. Hangartner took the opportunity when Hartwig went down. He is a young versatile interior lineman with alot of starting experience in a sucessfull run game. He is 26 a proven commodity who won't break the bank. Centers take time to develop, I would take Hangartner and go in another direction with our picks.

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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    Quote Originally Posted by 39thebeast View Post
    No Kalil took Justin Hartwigs spot. Hangartner took the opportunity when Hartwig went down. He is a young versatile interior lineman with alot of starting experience in a sucessfull run game. He is 26 a proven commodity who won't break the bank. Centers take time to develop, I would take Hangartner and go in another direction with our picks.
    Hmm. Interesting. I agree. If we do indeed grab Hangarter, it would give us more options for the draft.

    This is how I see it.

    *We're going to have to pick a center in the draft, or upgrade in the FA.
    *We're going to have to pick a tackle in the draft, or upgrade in the FA(unlikely)
    *We need to get a MLB.
    *Depth for the -line
    *Some decent, reliable defensive players. They don't have to be Pro Bowlers, but we need more reliable players on defense to step up and do their job.


    Now, that being said, if we grab Hangarter, that immediately fills the need to get a center in the draft.
    Now we can focus our second or third round pick on maybe a tackle or defensive or offensive player.

    It would also mean that we would have more options with our first round pick.
    Since we get a center in the FA, all we really need is to get a tackle for the o-line. We have more options here since we can use either picks to get one.


    I would choose Alex Mack or Unger over this guy, because they're better "prospects", but I would be intrigued if we get this guy.

  11. #11
    Azul e Oro is online now Registered User
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    Re: Could the Rams find their next center in free agency?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigredman View Post
    No offense taken. Although I was confused by the description of hairy buns, being that I routinely have a Brazilian wax to stay smooth as a baby's bottom!
    That is just wrong on so many levels.

    You truly are an inspiration...or something...

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