Friday, September 24, 2010

Rams need more veterans for leadership

Steven Jackson has been carrying the St.Louis Rams ever since Marshall Faulk retired, and ever since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce grew past their primes. Anyone who has eyes can see that Jackson is an absolute warrior on the field come Sunday. Towards the end of the 2009 season, the Rams only had one win on the season (which would ultimately be their only win of 2009), and Steven Jackson was suffering a back injury. Jackson knew that the Rams were playing for nothing, as playoff hopes were long gone; but he muscled through it, and carried the team on his back until the end of the final 2009 game.

Jackson provides the solid veteran leadership that the Rams crave, but it is just not enough. Not that his contributions should not be fully appreciated, but he will not win games on his own. The Rams need more veteran leadership, like Jackson, before they can make a serious run at the NFC West.

Before the 2009 season, the Rams dumped a lot of big salaries- Torry Holt, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Drew Bennett and Orlando Pace; and before this season, the Rams dumped Marc Bulger, as well as Bulger's $60mm+ contract.

Sure, the Rams have some money tied up. The Rams signed Jason Brown in 2009, and made him one of the highest paid centers in the league. That same year, the Rams also re-signed CB Ron Bartell to a four-year $25mm contract. Not to mention their draft picks Jason Smith (six-years $61.7mm, which could make any self-respecting fan vomit) and their new QB Sam Bradford (five-years $81mm).

But despite those signings, the Rams actually have a cheap roster. However, it doesn't matter at the moment, because there is no salary cap this season (since the player's union and the owners could not settle on a new CBA). The salary cap will likely return, and when it does, the Rams are in good shape and have plenty of money to spend.

This past off-season was tricky; there were not a lot of free-agents for the Rams to sign. The lack of a new CBA made it so that players with five years (or less) of experience, that were due to become unrestricted free-agents, instead became restricted free-agents (meaning that the team that signs the player has to give up a predetermined draft pick to the former team as compensation). The Rams were not in a position to give up any of their much-needed draft picks, so therefor, the best free-agent they pulled in was DT Fred Robbins.  

The Rams will have no excuse in 2011. There will be plenty of free-agents available, and they will have plenty of money to spend. The Rams' new stability in ownership in Stan Kroenke helps as well. Some of the top 2011 free-agents include:
-WR Randy Moss
-OG Logan Mankins
-WR Braylon Edwards
-WR Santonio Holmes
-DT Haloti Ngata
-LB D'Qwell Jackson
-LB/DE LaMar Woodley
-RB Joseph Addai
-DE Robert Mathis
-WR Vincent Jackson
-OT Marcus McNeil
-DE Marcus Spears

That's just a small sample. There are many more free-agents to add to that list. The point is that the Rams need more than Steven Jackson to lead this team. Sam Bradford obviously has all of the tools to succeed, and will likely be the primary leader of the team in the future, but he needs some help right now, Jackson needs some help right now, and the Rams need help right now. The Rams should have the proper funds required to sign at least two solid veterans, such as any of the ones listed above.

This team needs to learn how to win, and Jackson can't teach them on his own. The team needs to bring in veteran leaders that have won in the past, and who can show this young team how to put away games. Winning is contagious, and it is a habit. It can not magically bloom from the efforts of the pups, but it needs to be taught. Until the proper veteran personnel arrives, this team will continue to lose, and this team will not even sniff the playoffs. It is time to end this. It is time to move on, and it is finally time for a season that is not already sealed in September.
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