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The Rams moved fast when free agency began last year, but a repeat isn't likely
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Few teams moved faster than the Rams did a year ago in free agency. By the time the first weekend of free agency had come and gone, defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, linebacker Will Witherspoon and safety Corey Chavous all were under contract.
But this time, with a more uncertain market and with limited options at the Rams' greatest position of needs, coach Scott Linehan doesn't foresee a similar quick start.
"No, I really can't," he said. "We'll consider a trade if something comes up. Certainly, we've got some free agents that we've targeted. But we also don't know what kind of market we're dealing with. The hardest thing to do right now is be patient."
Unless he knows a player, Linehan likes to meet players before signing them. So with the free agency period officially underway today, Linehan and his staff are at the ready.
"We're all like volunteer firemen," Linehan said. "We're all kind of on call this weekend. You never know what's going to happen."
The situation is more vexing this season, because the pickings are slim at the positions where the Rams are most needy — defensive end and defensive tackle. With a rash of franchise tags thinning the field, the best options at end are Atlanta's Patrick Kerney and Tampa Bay's DeWayne White.
But Kerney is a left end — Leonard Little's position. And when flipped over to right end by the Falcons, Kerney was much less productive.
The Rams might try to do some business with White. They like him. There is a familiarity factor because he played in college at Louisville during part of Linehan's tenure there as an assistant coach. He's 27, and after being a backup for the Buccaneers he's ready to start. As a rotation player, White had 14 sacks over the past three season, including five in 2006.
There have been rumors that the Rams might trade for Detroit defensive end James Hall. Rams defensive line coach Brian Baker coached Hall in Detroit in 2000 — Hall's rookie season. Hall had 11 sacks as recently as 2004, but his production has dipped to only five sacks in each of the past two seasons.
The free-agent options at defensive tackle — more specifically, nose tackle — are even more limited. Chicago's Ian Scott has been a starter in the past for the Bears, and did an admirable job filling in for Tank Johnson this season. At 320-plus pounds, Kansas City's Ron Edwards has a wide body, but is not a difference maker. Another wide body, Miami's Keith Traylor, has a chronic right knee problem that at best might limit him to 20 snaps a game.
But there are plenty of free-agent possibilities at running back, where the Rams are looking for a solid backup to Steven Jackson. Arizona's Marcel Shipp, Miami's Sammy Morris and Jacksonsville's LaBrandon Toefield all could be good fits in St. Louis.
Don't be surprised if the team makes a move on an interior offensive lineman.
At center, with Andy McCollum still on the mend from knee surgery and Brett Romberg still somewhat of an unproven commodity, the Rams may make a run at Al Johnson of Dallas. The Rams are interested in Johnson, who started 31 games for the Cowboys in 2004 and '05, but lost the starting job to Andre Gurode last season.
Among the Rams' own free agents, it's looking more and more as if wide receiver Kevin Curtis could be leaving.
"I'm not optimistic, but I also don't know that it isn't possible," Linehan said. "I know Kevin's looking for a starting job."
But that isn't going to happen in St. Louis unless Isaac Bruce startles everyone and announces his retirement.
Curtis is expected to pay a free-agent visit today to Minnesota, which is ready to promise him he will be the No. 1 receiver. That's the only visit Curtis currently has planned, but Detroit, Jacksonville, and San Diego are expected to pursue him.
Linehan also is hopefully of re-signing punter Matt Turk, offensive lineman Todd Steussie and linebacker Dexter Coakley. (Coakley was cut Monday by the Rams, but they want to re-sign him at a lesser rate.)
Pittsburgh, where former Rams special teams coach Bob Ligashesky now works, is expected to make an early run at Turk.
Re: The Rams moved fast when free agency began last year, but a repeat isn't likely
I would be gfine if by Sunday these guys were Rams
DT Ron Edwards
DE Dwayne White
LB Nap Harris
WR Antonio Bryant
Its not where you go first it is where you buy a house.