The Rams' revamped hierarchy just keeps on trucking in high gear. One day after picking up nearly $20 million under the salary cap with the release of five players who started most of last season (CB Ron Bartell, DTs Fred Robbins and Justin Bannan, C-OG Jason Brown and DE James Hall), the Rams hit the bulls-eye in free agency, reaching a tentative deal with former Titans CB Cortland Finnegan, the team's top target on the market regardless of position. Multiple reports indicate that the 28-year-old Finnegan will sign a five-year, $50 million deal.
With Finnegan on board after initially being considered too expensive an acquisition, the Rams still have plenty of money left to work the free-agent market after gutting their roster Monday. Another Titan, DL Jason Jones, could soon be following in Finnegan's footsteps to St. Louis to help fill a glaring hole at defensive tackle following the release of last year's starters at the position, Robbins and Bannan.
Still in need of more help on the corners following the addition of the durable Finnegan, the Rams also could be interested in free agents Tracy Porter (Saints) and Jarrett Bush (Packers). According to PFW correspondent Jim Thomas, they also could be looking into recently released OT Eric Winston and veteran backup QB Shaun Hill, who played most recently with Detroit.
The PFW Spin
Could Les Snead be off to any better start in his new capacity as the Rams' GM? Close team observers agree that Snead couldn't be making a stronger impression, landing one of the best defenders available in this year's free-agent market in Finnegan just four days after a blockbuster trade with the Redskins that netted first-round picks each of the next three seasons and Washington's No. 2 pick this year (which was announced officially by the teams Wednesday).
Finnegan has missed only three games the past five seasons (all in 2009) and was a Pro Bowl selection that season, when he intercepted five passes. He is not only a proven playmaker, which the Rams' defense definitely need more of, but he's also very familiar with the wants and needs of new Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, who drafted him in the seventh round in 2006 out of Samford. Finnegan also provides a definite edge with his sometimes overly aggressive play.
Finnegan's addition provides an indication that the Rams will not back down in their aggressiveness in the wake of "Bountygate," which figures to land new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on the sidelines for a lengthy period. Finnegan is a pesky player who plays to the whistle, as evidenced by his memorable altercation a few years back with Texans WR Andre Johnson that resulted in a $25,000 fine for both players, and he immediately adds some badly needed fire to a defense that was one of the softest in the league last season.
But it behooves Fisher and Snead to continue their bold approach with glaring holes at defensive tackle and wide receiver, in particular, still staring the team in the face. Jones, who played defensive end for the Titans in 2011, is probably better suited inside, where he is a tough matchup for interior linemen with what many observers believe to be plenty of untapped potential.
Finally, while the Rams' massive roster reduction was mostly well-received by a fan base greatly in favor of a massive overhaul, one player in particular whose absence will be felt is Hall, an underrated, quality pass rusher who performed above and beyond the call of duty in his time as a Ram.
- Cortland Finnegan
- Fred Robbins