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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Free Agent Preview: Defensive Ends

    NOTE: This is the second in a series leading up to the beginning of free agency on March 2.

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    For the better part of his time in St. Louis, defensive end Leonard Little has been constantly double teamed and chip blocked by opposing offenses.

    More often than not, that type of approach leaves gaping holes or one-on-one opportunities for fellow defensive linemen to get to the quarterback, especially the defensive end on the opposite side.

    But free agency has worked against the Rams. Grant Wistrom was the answer, but signed with Seattle three years ago. The following season, Bryce Fisher looked like he might be the man, but Fisher also left in free agency to Seattle.

    With high hopes for Anthony Hargrove entering last season, the Rams thought they had the player for the position over the long haul. But Hargrove never developed into the player or person to bring stability to that spot and was traded to Buffalo for a draft pick early in the season.

    Rookie Victor Adeyanju filled in admirably for the parts of the season he was healthy. Victor provided the Rams with a much needed stout presence against the run. He should continue to develop as a pass rusher.

    After Adeyanju suffered an arm injury, the likes of Brandon Green and Eric Moore began to get snaps. All told, aside from Little’s 13 sacks, the Rams got just 2.5 sacks from the end position in 2006.

    That number is unacceptable for a defense that needs pressure from the front four to succeed.

    Taking that into account, the Rams have made improving the pass rush one of the top priorities heading into the offseason. That means when free agency begins on March 2, finding a starting-caliber end to complement Little will be at the top of the shopping list.

    Fortunately for the Rams, defensive end is one of the few positions that will have a number of top-line talents available when the free agent stampede begins. At the top of the list is the Colts’ Dwight Freeney. Freeney is one of the best pass rushers in the league, but isn’t a likely target for the Rams. Chances are the Colts will likely put a “franchise” tag on Freeney and make him virtually impsossible to get. .

    Additionally, Freeney isn’t terribly strong against the run and the Rams would like to have a player who can rush the passer and hold up on running downs. More likely options include New Orleans’ Charles Grant, Cincinnati’s Justin Smith and Atlanta’s Patrick Kerney. All three of those players are unrestricted free agents.

    Grant could be particularly interesting because of his previous relationship with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Grant has 36 sacks in his five seasons, but is strong against the run and the pass. New Orleans will likely attempt to re-sign Grant, but the Saints have Will Smith to get locked up also.

    Atlanta is currently trying to get Kerney signed, but he seems intent on testing the market. Kerney has plenty of experience and is a solid two-way end in the mold of Wistrom. In his eight seasons, Kerney has racked up 58 sacks and 270 tackles.

    Smith, meanwhile, is the most likely to hit the open market. A strong run defender, Smith is a local product (University of Missouri) and capable of getting to the quarterback as well. Smith has 41.6 sacks in six seasons and is consistently in the six to eight sack range every season.

    Other ends who could be of interest include Kansas City’s Jared Allen (restricted), Detroit’s Cory Redding and Denver’s Michael Myers.

    Regardless of who it is, expect the Rams to add at least one end in the offseason either in free agency or the draft.

    Top Five Free Agent Defensive Ends

    1. Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis, UFA

    2. Charles Grant, New Orleans, UFA

    3. Jared Allen, Kansas City, RFA

    4. Justin Smith, Cincinnati, UFA

    5. Patrick Kerney, Atlanta, UFA


  2. #2
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Defensive Ends

    1. Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis, UFA
    2. Charles Grant, New Orleans, UFA
    3. Jared Allen, Kansas City, RFA
    4. Justin Smith, Cincinnati, UFA
    5. Patrick Kerney, Atlanta, UFA
    I think it'd be a fair bet that one of these names WILL be a Ram next season.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  3. #3
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Defensive Ends

    I live here in Kansas City and I wouldn't mind us getting Jared Allen but some times, it seems like he takes plays off it could possibly be an issue, but if we get him for the right price? who knows.

  4. #4
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Defensive Ends

    Honestly I think we are good at the spot. We got young talent in Aydenaju and glover and kennedy can make up for leonard getting blocked. Another young DT would be nice though.

  5. #5
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Defensive Ends

    Cory Redding Would Be A Nice Addition

  6. #6
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Defensive Ends

    If you ask me, the pass defense wasn't nearly as much of a problem as the run defense. I say we're fine with Aydenaju starting opposite Little, what we need is pressure up the middle in both run and pass situations. A bigger, stronger MLB (move Witherspoon back outside) and DT seems more important to me.

  7. #7
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Defensive Ends

    Isn't Redding a DT? I wouldn't mind having him on the team. A solid DT and. a DE or LB would be a very nice move for the Rams in F/A.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Defensive Ends

    He has played DT and DE for the Lions,think he has played more at End but moved inside this year due to injuries on the line..:l

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