Tuesday, November 22, 2011

St. Louis Rams: 14 Player Who Will Not Be Back in 2012

The St. Louis Rams are now 10 games into a season that was suppose to bring them their first playoff appearance since the 2004 season and their first NFC West title since the 2003 season. 

With their current 2-8 record, they have been bad in so many ways and have been an embarrassment to their fanbase—a fanbase that surely spent the offseason bragging to fans of the opposing NFC West teams, only to be humiliated. 

The defense has been very bad at times, particularly against Baltimore when rookie receiver Torrey Smith caught three touchdowns in the first quarter in a game they lost 37-7. Then there was the Dallas game, where rookie running back DeMarco Murray ran for 253 yards in a 34-7 loss. 

But it's not just the defense. In fact, the defense is the team's strength as pathetic as that sounds. 

Over the last three games, the Rams offense has played about as poorly as an NFL offense can possibly play, with only 33 points combined throughout those three games.

It's still unclear if a coaching change at the end of the year is inevitable, but it's certainly likely. Even if there isn't a change, there will surely be drastic changes throughout the roster. 

Heads will roll and players will be out of work. 

Here are 14 players who are not worth keeping. It's very possible a good portion of these players will be looking for new employers at season's end. 

Fred Robbins (Defensive Tackle)

Fred Robbins has not been a complete bust in 2011, not necessarily, but the team's laughable run defense during the first half of the season is likely a direct result of the Robbins' clear regression. 

The 34-year-old is no longer a difference maker. It's possible he'll retire on his own, or the team may no longer want him, despite the fact he's still under contract in 2012. 

Mark Clayton (Wide Receiver)

Mark Clayton had his first three catches of the season last Sunday against Seattle and saw a few plays against Cleveland the week before, but he missed the first eight games as he's still recovering from his ACL tear from the 2010 season. 

Clayton had a good five game stretch for the Rams in 2010 (23 receptions, 306 yards and two touchdowns), but he has been average for most of his career, and so far in 2011 he hasn't really given the team a reason to offer him a new contract in 2012. 

It's very possible a younger receiver, such as Austin Pettis or Greg Salas, can duplicate Clayton's production without requiring a veteran contract. 

James Butler (Safety)

With only three total tackles on the season, it is remarkable that the team opted to keep a used up veteran such as James Butler rather than saving the roster spot for a very promising late round developmental project like linebacker Jabara Williams. 

With Darian Stewart and Quintin Mikell coming along nicely as a very solid duo at safety, and with Craig Dahl as a mediocre but serviceable backup, it's likely that Butler will be replaced in 2012. 

Al Harris (Cornerback)

Al Harris will be 37 years old in less than three weeks. He was solid once he was forced into a starting role for five games due to a swarm of injuries at the cornerback position, but he is done. 

You don't see defensive backs suffer knee injuries and then return to training camp at the age of 37, not in the NFL. 

He played well during his five games as a starter, which is more than most people thought he would contribute to the team in 2011, so he should be proud for doing his job. 

Harris had a remarkable 14 year career, but there's no need to push for 15 years. 

AJ Feeley (Quarterback)

The job of a backup quarterback is to perform at a level that's just respectable enough to give the team a chance to win, which is exactly what A.J. Feeley was able to do during the Rams 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Feeley has not done anything truly negative to where he deserves to be let go, but he'll be a free agent after the season is over. 

Rather than offering Feeley another contract, the Rams will likely realize that Feeley was only brought in due to his experience in the West Coast Offense, which the Rams no longer run. 

The Rams might look for a backup quarterback who's more familiar with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system, such as Kyle Orton. 

Jacob Bell (Offensive Guard)

In 2008, the Rams signed Jacob Bell to a six-year deal worth $36 million dollars, which was restructured into a one-year deal prior to the 2011 season. 

With Bell entering free agency at the end of the season, the Rams will rid themselves of a player who's been nothing short of awful at left-guard. 

Mike Hoomanawanui (Tight End)

The fifth-round draft pick from 2010, Michael Hoomanawanui (or Illinois Mike) flashed some potential during his rookie season (146 yards, three touchdowns), despite missing eight games due to injury. 

Some felt that the injury bug would pass and Illinois Mike would continue to grow into his potential in 2011, but he has still been unable to avoid injuries. 

So far in 2011, he has had injuries to his ankle, calf, back and head, but thankfully (for his sake) he finally found himself on injury reserve with a knee injury. 

With the staggering number of injuries on his resume, it's clear that Illinois Mike is not built for NFL football.

Billy Bajema (Tight End)

Billy Bajema was brought on board back in 2009 as a blocking specialist out of the tight end position, which is great, except for the fact that he's a terrible blocker.

He makes a habit out of getting schooled by defensive ends while pass blocking, while he has no receiving abilities whatsoever to fall back on. 

He'll be a free agent at the end of the season and the Rams have no reason to bring him back. 

Jerious Norwood (Running Back)

Jerious Norwood, despite possessing some explosive playmaking abilities, has been struggling with injuries for the past three years. 

Sometimes teams will sign a player like Norwood hoping that they can turn their career around, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. It's no one's fault and there's no real harm, but teams just take gambles like that on occasion and it didn't work out for the Rams this time around. 

Norwood has been battling a hamstring injury and has only contributed 18 total rushing yards in 2011, so the Rams will likely look elsewhere for help at running back in 2012. 

Ben Leber (Outside Linebacker)

Ben Leber was brought to the Rams prior to the 2011 season as an answer to one of the defense's most glaring needs—a starting outside linebacker. 

Leber has only 15 total tackles on the season and has started in only three games. The 32-year-old has been very slow on the field, which has resulted in him getting absolutely killed against the run.

The Rams will be looking for a younger linebacker with more speed in 2012.

Brandon Gibson (Wide Receiver)

Brandon Gibson is the very definition of an average NFL receiver—he doesn't have particularly amazing hands, speed, strength, height, quickness or route running, he's just average all around.

With Danario Alexander, Greg Salas, Austin Pettis, Danny Amendola, Dominique Curry (a special teams star) and hopefully soon-to-be free agent Brandon Lloyd, along with possibly a rookie receiver if they opt to use a high draft pick on one, there's really no roster spot left for an underwhelming receiver with zero special teams value such as Gibson.

Gibson has 28 catches for 332 yards and touchdown in nine games, so he has not been awful, but there's just not a lot of upside with him.

Justin King (Cornerback)

Third-year corner Justin King has been forced into action due to an unnatural wave of injuries to the cornerback position.

He was exposed during his third start against the Baltimore Ravens, giving up three touchdowns to receiver Torrey Smith in the first quarter alone.

Since then, he has improved his game steadily week-to-week, but is still leaving a lot to be desired. 

With Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, Jerome Murphy, Marquis Johnson and Josh Gordy all hoping to return next season, it's possible King will not make the team again in 2012. However, with his newly gained experience as a starter, he would not be a terrible option as a fourth or fifth-string corner. 

Jason Brown (Center)

Despite signing a five-year $37.5 million contract prior to the 2009 season, center Jason Brown was benched two weeks ago due to poor performance. 

With such an enormous contract and such horrid play, it's likely the Rams will cut all ties to the free agent bust regardless of any dead money that will count against the salary cap. 

Jason Smith (Offensive Tackle)

Jason Smith was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft, but his career so far has been nothing short of a catastrophic disaster. 

Smith's rookie year was plagued with injury, but he bounced back with an average season in 2010 with 15 total starts and seemingly decent play at right-tackle. 

However, Smith's play has plummeted in 2011. His pass blocking has been amateur hour and even got him benched during the Baltimore game, while his run blocking has been average but not nearly enough to warrant any real recognition. 

He suffered a serious concussion during the Dallas game, which is alarming given his history with concussions dating back to his rookie year. It's possible the concussions could be a long term problem and could even end his career prematurely, but that's purely speculation. 

Even if he does return to full health, his whopping $61.7 million contract is just too disgustingly disproportionate to justify bringing him back. If he does not restructure his contract, then the team will cut him and take a cap hit that won't be nearly as harsh as the $10 million that he's due in 2012. 

There's been nothing but positive things said about him as a person, and Rams fans are hoping for a full recovery from his concussion, but it still doesn't change the fact that he is the maybe the biggest roster obstacle for the team moving forward. 


  1. At some point the Rams are going to have to realize the OL is the key to all their problems.

  2. recycled players don't last long

  3. Lets trade Bradford and keep Feeley until we get someone who can make the Josh McDaniel offense work. Or better yet, no Josh McDaniel, seriously horrible offense. Sorry, horrible attempt at an offense. Just really bad and extremely boring.

  4. i thought that when spags threw in the white flag of surrender summed up their whole season along with spags brief stint as a head coach.