After being widely considered the worst team in football, according to preseason speculation, the Rams are currently ranked 24th in ESPN's power rankings, and 23rd on Fox Sports. Pretty impressive considering most in the national media never expected the Rams to even leave the 30's in the rankings. More importantly however, the Rams are in 2nd-place in the NFC West, and they are tied for the the best record in the division.
Typically, rebuilding teams shy away from blockbuster trades, because they feel that saving draft picks better serves the rebuilding process. Big time trades are usually reserved for teams that are a couple of pieces away from competing.
The Rams are widely considered to be a rebuilding team; but after their performance during the first quarter of the season, in might not be a reach to view the Rams as a team that could win the division, especially if they add a couple of key pieces, such as a solid back-up running-back (not that Kenneth Darby has done terrible so far), or more importantly, a primary target for quarterback Sam Bradford, a receiver that can be the deep threat that the Rams are missing.
Mark Clayton has been a major addition so far for the Rams. Clayton was a low-risk/high-reward acquisition. However, Clayton doesn't have the size to force separation; he also doesn't have the height to secure jump-balls, or the sure hands required to rack up receptions. Clayton would be an ideal number two receiver; and if the Rams were to bring in a number one receiver by 2011, then that new receiver, along with Clayton, Donnie Avery, and Danny Amendola, would make a scary set of wide-receivers for the Rams.
Since the need for a top receiver is so clear, and since the Rams are still in the division race, it makes one wonder if the Rams are regretting their decision to pass on Vincent Jackson.
Had the Rams made the trade, Jackson would be suiting up for the game this Sunday, against Detroit. But since Jackson was not traded before a certain deadline, he must serve a three game suspension, on top of a prior three game suspension for violating the leagues' substance abuse policy.
The second suspension doesn't start until he signs an agreement. Therefor, if the Rams were to make a deal for Jackson, he would be available for them by week 8 against the Carolina Panthers, and after that game, the Rams enter the Bye-week, which would be a perfect opportunity for Jackson to learn the offense. He would then be available for the final stretch of the season, and he just might give the Rams an extra push, putting them on top of the division.
The current interest in Jackson seems to be non-existent, but if there is an interest, then they need to make an offer soon, since the Patriots are currently showing interest. The Patriots' interest, or at least the rumors of their interest, stem from the fact that they lost wide-receiver Randy Moss to a trade with Minnesota. Minnesota payed New England a 2011 3rd round draft pick in exchange for Moss.
Moss would've been another receiver that Rams could use. Moss certainly would've been a solid primary receiver for Bradford; but Moss in 33 years old, and like Jackson, Moss has had his character come into question. Either one of the two receivers would certainly add to the Rams' offense, but both have questionable attitudes.
In 2002, Moss allegedly bumped a traffic control officer with his car, after the officer ordered him to stop his vehicle. This led to his arrest, where the officers found a small amount of marijuana. Ultimately, Moss received only a minor traffic violation for the incident. Then there was the 2004 incident, when he exited the field, against the Washington Redskins, with time still left on the clock. Moss has also admitted to being a occasional marijuana smoker.
The 27 year old Jackson had the substance abuse violation from the NFL, stemming from a DUI he received in 2009. He also had another encounter with law enforcement for driving with a suspended drivers license. Jackson is one violation away from being suspended for the entire 2010 season.
Rams' head-coach Steve Spagnuolo has been dedicated to building the team with high-character players. General Manager Billy Devaney said that the team would be more willing to look at less-than-desirable characters, once the primary core of team is cemented with high-class guys. It is unknown whether or not the team is at that point yet, but given the Rams current situation, it might not be the worst time to take a risk on a player that could potentially put the team on top.