As suspected, the St. Louis Rams sat idle in the opening minutes and hours of Day 1 of the NFL free-agency period. Fans should not pull out their fingernails, though, or scream, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Rather, the franchises that work to make the big splash in free agency frequently end up being the same teams that earn the top 10 – 12 picks in the yearly draft.
It is all about having a plan – and a great deal of patience. Know when to make the calculated moves. Sometimes, not pulling off a trade may be the best trade. In its short tenure, the Rams’ brass of Jeff Fisher, Les Snead and Kevin Demoff has displayed a fondness for filling some hot spots in free agency. But they will not give away the bank and exceed market value for players, preferring to build the roster through the draft instead.
For St. Louis, a focal point entering free agency centered on retaining the player the franchise drafted in 2010, offensive lineman Rodger Saffold. Heavy rumors swirling Sunday night and into Monday morning, though, linked the former second-round choice to several other teams. Despite Saffold’s injury history, his versatility and athletic ability to play both tackle spots – in addition to guard – sent his stock soaring, and the Oakland Raiders swooped in with a five-year deal worth $42.5 million, including $21.6 million in guaranteed money.
Rams fans are now questioning the plan moving forward. Who will protect Sam Bradford, the starting quarterback returning from ACL surgery? Who’s going to open holes for Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham in the running game?
Don’t panic. While the moves below confirm the abundance of activity on the first day of free agency, there is still a lot of shuffling to go.
NFC West Free-Agent Signings
49ers PK Phil Dawson (re-signed)
49ers QB Blaine Gabbert (from Jaguars in exchange for sixth-round pick)
Cardinals OT Jared Veldheer
Free-Agent Visits Scheduled
Seattle DT Jason Hatcher – March 12
Seattle TE Jermichael Finley – March 12
Big-Name Cuts on Day 1
Bears DE Julius Peppers
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware
Cowboys WR Miles Austin
Key Signings Around the League
New Orleans DB Jairus Byrd
Tampa Bay CB Alterraun Verner
Raiders RB Darren McFadden (re-signed)
Ravens OT Eugene Monroe (re-signed)
Broncos DB T.J. Ward
Browns ILB Karlos Dansby
Browns DB Donte Whitner
Buccaneers DE Michael Johnson
Colts DE Arthur Jones
Colts CB Vontae Davis
Colts PK Adam Vinatieri
Dolphins OT Branden Albert
Eagles DB Malcolm Jenkins
Eagles PT Donnie Jones (re-signed)
Falcons DE/DT Tyson Jackson
Giants OG Geoff Schwartz