It is a frequent refrain any time the prospects for the St. Louis Rams are discussed. Yes, it is often said, the Rams should be improved and the influx of quality young players since Les Snead became general manager and Jeff Fisher became head coach in 2012 has been impressive.
But then comes the caveat: Unfortunately, they reside in the toughest division in football, one that has had the conference's Super Bowl representatives the last two seasons (Seattle and San Francisco) and one where those two teams and Arizona combined for a 35-13 record last season.
It is behind that backdrop that the Rams will begin practicing July 25 at their training facility working to solidify the offensive line, ensure that quarterback Sam Bradford is truly all the way back from the torn ACL that ended his 2013 season, and figure out how to separate an inexperienced group of receivers that will be necessary to complement a ground game led by last year's rookie standout Zac Stacy.
In addition, a good defense in 2013 should be ready to take a big step forward with the hiring of Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator. Williams' passion and aggressiveness was evident during OTAs, and the players appear enthusiastic about implementing the style that Williams wants.
One key for the line will be the return to health of left tackle Jake Long, who also suffered a torn ACL last season. Long was able to do limited work during OTAs and is expected to be available for full practices halfway through training camp.
In his absence, there will likely be several players getting snaps at the position most of the time because coaches would prefer to keep rookie Greg Robinson at left guard and Rodger Saffold at right guard. Should Long not be available for the start of the season, one of those players would likely play the position. But they will enter camp planning for Long to be there.
Center is secure with Scott Wells and the underrated Joe Barksdale is at right tackle.
Bradford participated in about half of the OTAs, more than had been expected, and it helped prepare him for camp without what might have been the case had he been practicing for the first time in late July. The receiver corps will be doing a lot of rotating in practice. Kenny Britt asserted his presence in OTAs and could end up being the best of the group.
Tavon Austin is more comfortable entering his second season, and Chris Givens expects to rebound from a disappointing second season. The third season for Brian Quick needs to be better, or the hope the Rams had for him could dissipate.
Establishing a consistent offense is imperative if the Rams are to find a way to challenge the 49ers and Seahawks. The notion that the approach will be ground-and-pound could be overstated. Tre Mason provides a complement to Stacy, and the presence of tight end Jared Cook along with the rest of the receiving corps should lead to an offense that can pound, but also be explosive.
The arrival of Williams two years after Fisher originally wanted him should elevate a defense that could be ready to challenge their other NFC West counterparts for division supremacy. The Rams ranked 15th in the NFL in yards allowed last season, but was ninth against the run. They were third in the league with 53 sacks, and they might be better if first-round defensive tackle Aaron Donald is as good as many think he is.
The questions reside in the secondary where Rodney McLeod is one starter at safety, and there is little depth behind him and T.J. McDonald unless rookies Maurice Alexander and Christian Bryant get healthy and show rapid growth in their first season. The same is true at cornerback with Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson the starters, while rookies Lamarcus Joyner and E.J. Gaines, and second-year man Brandon McGee battle for the depth spots.
Under Fisher, the Rams have won seven games in each of the last two seasons. When he became the Houston Oilers coach in 1995 (after being the interim coach the previous year), the Oilers and then Tennessee Titans won seven games in 1995 and then eight for three years in a row until breaking through with 13 wins in 1999.
Fisher expects a similar breakthrough for the Rams, but the question is whether there will be another two seasons like there was in Tennessee before it happens.
--Team strength: Defensive line.
From top to bottom, not only is this group easily the strength of the team, but it ranks among the best in the entire NFL. Led by right end Robert Quinn, who had 19 sacks last season, the line can get pressure on the quarterback as well as defend the run. Left end Chris Long had 8.5 sacks in 2013, and the depth at end includes William Hayes and Eugene Sims. Both Hayes and Sims often move inside on passing downs, after Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford have done their jobs. There is also depth inside with free-agent addition Alex Carrington and first-round draft pick Aaron Donald. Competing for roster spots will be tackle Matt Conrath and seventh-round end Michael Sam.
--Breakout player: Wide receiver Tavon Austin.
He struggled at times during his rookie season getting up to speed and comfortable with the level of play in the NFL. There were several drops early. Despite that, Austin showed his ability to make big plays as a receiver and punt returner, and had a few long plays called back by penalty. Then, he missed the final three games with an ankle injury. After a good offseason, Austin appears primed to take big strides in his second season and show he can make yards after the catch.
--Fantasy football reality check: Wide receiver Kenny Britt.
Britt isn't the true definition of a steal because he has the ability to score from anywhere on the field. However, he could be a steal because most won't consider him thanks to a lack of production the past two seasons in Tennessee. He was focused during offseason workouts, and appears motivated to prove he can be as good as advertised when he was selected in the first round of the 2009 draft. Rams coach Jeff Fisher was the head coach for the Titans when Britt was drafted, and Britt looks intent on thanking Fisher for another opportunity.
Rookies reported: July 21
Veterans report: July 24
First practice: July 25
--When defensive end Michael Sam was drafted by the Rams, the man who hopes to become the first openly gay player in the NFL had to know he was going to take some flack.
The first public shot came from former NFL player and coach and current analyst Tony Dungy, who stated he would not have drafted Sam because of the distractions that come with him.
Sam took the high road Tuesday after his first practice with the Rams, saying: "Thank God he wasn't a St. Louis Rams coach. But I have great respect for Tony Dungy. Like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions."
On a more positive note, Sam is coming off a great moment at the ESPYs, winning the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage because of his choice to come out prior to the draft.
"It was a great award," he said. "I had a great time in L.A. with the Arthur Ashe Award, but that's over. I'm focusing on football now."
On the football side, Sam is hoping the hoopla dies down.
"My focus is on making this team," he said. "I don't really care what people come up and tell me. My job is to make this team, that's my No. 1 one priority."
--Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and NBA free agent Donte Greene were arrested after getting into a fight with each other outside a Miami Beach nightclub Sunday morning (July 20).
Miami Beach police detective Vivian Thayer said Greene faces battery and disorderly conduct charges, while Dunbar was not cited for battery. There were no other arrests made relating to the altercation. No other details about the incident were immediately available.
Miami-Dade County jail records did not indicate that either man was in custody Sunday afternoon. No details were immediately available about the bonds they posted.
Dunbar made 39 tackles last season for the Rams. He was suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy in 2013.
--As the Rams broke for the offseason after head coach Jeff Fisher canceled the final scheduled day for OTAs, quarterback Sam Bradford was a happy man. Happy that he will have five weeks off before reporting to training camp on July 24, but mostly happy at the work he was able to accomplish coming back from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers.
"I was really happy with everything that went on during the OTAs," Bradford said. "A big part of it for me was, obviously, physically getting back onto the field, seeing how my knee reacted. It's been fantastic. We were actually able to do a little more than we anticipated. So, that's very positive and then this week to actually practice twice, get a little more comfortable out there. It's tough kind of going once a week. Out there today it probably felt the best its felt all OTAs and I'm just really looking to build on that."
It's only been eight months since the injury occurred, but Bradford said of his knee, "I feel really good. Obviously, I think part of it is building up the endurance in my legs. I can kind of feel a little bit of fatigue today, but I think that's normal just not having been out here practicing like that. That's really what I'm going to work on during this five-week break."
But, he will also be doing some relaxing, saying, "I'm just excited to go home and kind of enjoy a little bit of down time before we really get going."
Shortly after the 2013 season ended, the Rams were unsure whether Bradford would be available for OTAs. Coach Jeff Fisher said, "We had a plan throughout. We allowed him to do some things in the skill development and he did. We got him on the field in the first couple OTAs. Just in the passing fashion he was good. Then today and obviously on Tuesday, he participated in team periods - that was encouraging. He's got a plan for the summer. He's going to get away for a little bit. He needs to get away. He's been here every day, and he'll come back ready to go."
Finally, Bradford emphasized the importance of having these OTAs and being able to participate in about half, rather than be thrown into things when training camp opens.
He said, "It was huge to be out here, especially at the beginning of OTAs. I really expected to just be doing 7-on7, but to be able to get out there - and obviously 'Fish' slowed the pass rush down a little bit - to be out there and get some of the team reps in the different periods, that's huge. We talked about it yesterday in the team meeting, but the way that the new CBA is, I think we've only got like 19 practices before game week starts and that's not a lot of time to get back onto the field. So, to actually be out here and get to rep some of the new things that we've put in, I think that was really big."
--Running back Isaiah Pead has been almost a forgotten man since being drafted by the Rams in the second round of the 2012 draft.
In that rookie season, he was beaten out by Daryl Richardson, who got most of the carries when Steven Jackson was injured or needed a breather. Last year, with Jackson gone to Atlanta, Richardson opened the season as the starter, but when he suffered a toe injury, it was Zac Stacy that took over the No. 1 role.
Pead missed the first game of the season under league suspension, and then had virtually no role in the offense, as Benny Cunningham became the backup to Stacy. That's when Pead got tired of standing around and about halfway through the season approached special teams coordinator John Fassel about contributing on special teams.
"My mindset was simply wanting to get on the field," Pead said after this year's OTAs wrapped up. "I had no role. I was just standing on the sideline doing nothing. I'm a football player. I take it to heart when I have a role."
Not only did Pead begin playing on special teams, but he embraced the opportunity.
When asked about Pead, Fassel said, "I'm really glad you asked me that. When you think about him a lot and his development last year, how he really committed to special teams. Not only was he a contributor, he was a high-impact guy for us. I think a lot of people are going to see a lot of growth out of that guy, not only on teams, and I can't speak for offense, but I just imagine with his maturity, his work ethic, his ability I would imagine he's going to have a fantastic preseason and really been a good guy. I could speak on him a lot on how proud I am of him and his work ethic and his contributions last year, especially on special teams."
Even with the selection of running back Tre Mason in this year's draft, Pead has been getting a chance on offense in OTAs. He has been solid in pass protection, and had a big play on a long pass reception in the Tuesday OTA this week.
Said offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, "He's doing good. He ran with the ones some today (Tuesday); did a nice job. Obviously again, took a big step up for coach Fassel on special teams. When a guy does that, he's obviously going to be dressed every day on game day, which is big thing for us because you don't get everybody dressed for game day. He's really getting better. I think getting comfort in the system helps. Terrific match-up problem for the defense coming out of the backfield and he's made some big plays for us. Had a nice touchdown down in the boundary today."
Pead is fine helping on special teams, but his goal this year is to get himself back in the mix on offense.
"Last year was last year," he said. "This year, I'm focused on changing my role to being a running back."
--This season is an important one for wide receiver Brian Quick, the first pick in the second round of the 2012 draft. Quick has struggled with consistency, and the Rams hope he will make a quantum leap in his third season.
Schottenheimer believes this might be the year. He said, "Probably the most improved player I've seen is Brian Quick. He's doing a great job. Another guy that we're giving an opportunity to. He's competing for playing time. He's made the most of his opportunities. He started today (Tuesday). Again, just moving guys around, in and out of the lineup, trying to create competition and he's stepped up and made a lot of big plays for us."
--Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is glad to be calling the shots again for an NFL defense and his passion for the game is evident.
"I'm excited," he said as OTAs came to a close. "I'm happiest on the field. I'm happiest out here. I'm happiest competing. In the meeting room, it's good too, when the players are around. In the offseason when the players aren't around and the coaches have to suffer through me ... they were so happy when the players got here because they got a break too because now I can start stressing the players instead of stressing the coaches.
"But it is fun. This is where I'm happiest. Again, in the state of Missouri, back in my home state, here in St. Louis, I can't tell you how happy I am. This is a good group of guys to be with."
As for getting across what he wants, Williams said it's a two-way street. He said, "This has been a learning curve for them and really been a learning curve for me because I've got to try to learn each and every one of them - the veterans, too. It's a good group. They've responded well and I'm excited about taking the next step into training camp."
One player that helps having around is linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who was with the Saints when Williams was the defensive coordinator there.
"I think it's good to have him going along behind the scenes, in the locker room and saying I'm not as crazy as everybody thinks I am," Williams said. "You know, it's funny because you take a look at the intern coaches that are here, two of the three intern coaches played for me in Mike Peterson (at Jacksonville) and Pierson Prioleau. Pierson Prioleau was that guy for me when I took him at Buffalo, I took him with the Redskins, I took him to Jacksonville and I took him to the Saints. His question was, 'How come it took you four teams to win a Super Bowl?' So all of the sudden finding the right spot. He was always around in that locker room to answer questions that really coaches hadn't come up with yet and really like, 'Is he serious? Is he really serious?' Jo-Lonn can do that. He does a great job with that, so it's important."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Sam Bradford. Backups - Shaun Hill, Garrett Gilbert, Austin Davis.
Returning from a torn ACL injury that short-circuited his 2013 season, Bradford knows the pressure there is simply to stay on the field. Including his final season at Oklahoma, Bradford has had injuries that affected his play in three of the last five seasons. With the Rams, in addition to 2013, there was a 2011 season affected by a high ankle sprain. He was playing well when the knee injury occurred last season, and he expects to pick up where he left off. Hill replaces Kellen Clemens as the backup, and if he has to play, the passing offense won't be as diminished as it was when Clemens had to play. The Rams like the potential of the rookie Gilbert, and he is expected to win the No. 3 job over Davis, who was cut at the end of the preseason last year only to be brought back after Bradford was injured.
RUNNING BACKS: Starter - Zac Stacy. Backups - Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Isaiah Pead, Chase Reynolds, Trey Watts, FB Kadeem Jones.
Stacy was a revelation after getting a starting opportunity in the fifth game of the 2013 season. He ran tough, and while not being a great big-play threat, he was consistent. However, he did get banged up at times, and wasn't on the field in some key late-game situations. That led to the selection of Mason in the third round of the draft. Stacy won't be handed the starting job, and while he will likely be No. 1, Mason should supply a breakaway threat and better ability as a pass-catcher. Cunningham will also be in the mix, as will Pead, who played well on special teams during the second half of last season. Pead will attempt to knock Reynolds, whose only contribution is on special teams, off the roster.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Jared Cook. Backups - Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey, Justice Cunningham, Alex Bayer, Mason Brodine.
Kendricks will start games when the Rams open with two tight ends, as he has shown steady improvement as a blocker and receiver. He doesn't have great speed, but still has a knack for getting open and making plays. Cook has the ability to stretch the field, and should open up things for the rest of the receivers. Harkey has also continued to get better, and, like Kendricks, can block and catch. The Rams have usually kept four tight ends, and there will be strong competition between Cunningham and Bayer, the undrafted free agent who looked good in OTAs. Brodine has switched from defensive end and is a decided longshot to make the roster.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Kenny Britt, Chris Givens. Backups - Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, Austin Pettis, T.J. Moe, Emory Blake, Jordan Harris, Austin Franklin, Jamaine Sherman.
Britt could be the wild card in this group. He brought passion and big-play ability to the offseason workouts, and has the ability to be the best receiver on the roster. Givens took a step back after a very good rookie season, and is determined to again be the big-play threat he was in 2012. Austin says he is more comfortable this season after some rookie-season struggles, and he is expected to be used in a variety of ways. This is a crucial season for Quick, who hasn't been consistent in his two seasons with the Rams. The third year is where many receivers start to make an impact, and if Quick doesn't step up, he might never be the player the team thought when he was selected with the first pick of the second round in the 2012 draft. Bailey's progress will be stymied by a suspension that will cost him the first four games of the season. He was coming on late in his rookie season last year, and the suspension comes at an inopportune time. Pettis is written off every year, but then has a strong offseason and manages to win a job in camp. That could happen again thanks to Bailey's suspension, but the question is what happens when Bailey returns. Moe is a local favorite after attending high school in the St. Louis area and excelling at the University of Missouri. However, it will be tough for him to make the roster, although the practice squad is a distinct possibility.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LT Jake Long, LG Greg Robinson, C Scott Wells, RG Rodger Saffold, RT Joe Barksdale. Backups - G Davin Joseph, C Barrett Jones, C Tim Barnes, G Brandon Washington, T Mike Person, T Sean Hooey, C Demetrius Rhaney, T Mitchell Van Dyk, T Travis Bond.
Long's health holds the key, especially at the start of the season. If he is ready coming back from ACL surgery, the unit is set. If not, the decision will be whether to slide the rookie Robinson to left tackle or move Saffold there. That would open a spot for Joseph, who was signed in the offseason after being released by Tampa Bay. There will also be an intriguing competition between Jones and Barnes. Jones is considered the heir apparent to Wells, but he wasn't ready to play last season when Wells was injured, and Barnes got the nod. Barksdale is rarely talked about, but he continues to improve and was the only lineman to start all 16 games last season. Washington will also try to make a case for himself as a backup. Person and Hooey might battle for a backup tackle spot, although in the expected lineup, guards Robinson and Saffold could be the backups at tackle. Rookies Rhaney and Van Dyk have potential, but are probably headed to the practice squad.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - DLE Chris Long, DT Kendall Langford, DT Michael Brockers, DRE Robert Quinn. Backups - E William Hayes, E Eugene Sims, T Aaron Donald, T Alex Carrington, T Matt Conrath, E Michael Sam, E Sammy Brown, T Ethan Westbrooks, T Deantre Harlan.
There is almost an embarrassment of riches here. Led by Quinn, who had 19 sacks last season, the rest of the line added 27 sacks. Long had 8.5 sacks, while Hayes contributed 5.0. Hayes and Sims sometimes play inside in passing situations, but that might not be as necessary following the additions of Carrington and Donald. Carrington, who played in Buffalo last season, was signed as an unrestricted free agent, while Donald was selected with the 13th overall choice in the first round of the draft. Langford and Brockers man the inside on a unit that ended up ranked ninth in rush defense, while allowing just 3.7 yards per attempt. Conrath, who has been on the team since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2012, might be hard-pressed to make the roster. Sam will try to win a job as a designated pass rusher. Westbrook received a $20,000 signing bonus as an undrafted free agent this year and had $30,000 of his base salary guaranteed. At 267 pounds, he looks more like an end, but the Rams believe he can add weight and contend inside.
LINEBACKERS: Starters - LOLB Alec Ogletree, MLB James Laurinaitis, ROLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Backups - OLB Ray Ray Armstrong, MLB Daren Bates, Phillip Steward, Aaron Hill, Etienne Sabino, Johnny Millard.
Ogletree lived up to expectations as a late first-round pick last year, and showed the ability to be a playmaker. He wound up leading the team with 155 tackles, while forcing six fumbles and scoring on a 98-yard interception return. As a blitzer, he had 1.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, five pressures and three quarterback hits. Those numbers could increase with Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator. Laurinaitis is the steady leader of the defense, and will contribute big plays. He was second on the team with 144 tackles. Dunbar is strong in run support, and the team's rush defense began improving last season after he returned from a four-game suspension to start the season. He also contributes knowledge of Williams' system after playing for him at New Orleans. Armstrong and Bates are two of the team's better special teams players. Armstrong led the team with 12 tackles, and with experience, could become a top performer from scrimmage. There will be competition in camp for one or two jobs. Steward was a rookie in 2013, and missed the entire season because of an injury. Hill, Wilson and Millard are rookie free agents.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Trumaine Johnson, SS T.J. McDonald, FS Rodney McLeod. Backups - CB Brandon McGee, CB Lamarcus Joyner, CB E.J. Gaines, CB Darren Woodard, CB Greg Reid, CB Jarrid Bryant, CB Marcus Roberson, S Cody Davis, S Matt Daniels, S Maurice Alexander, S Christian Bryant, S Avery Cunningham.
How young is this entire group? Add them all up, and there is only a combined 11 years of experience in the NFL. No one has played more than two seasons. Jenkins didn't have as many big plays in 2013 as he did during his rookie season, but he was asked to do more. Johnson has played well at times and competes, so he should also improve. The battle for the first nickel-back spot should be furious between McGee, Joyner and perhaps Gaines. McGee struggled in the one game he had significant playing time last season, but coaches like his upside. Joyner, the team's second-round pick, is a versatile player that is expected to contribute in a variety of ways as either a cornerback or safety. It will be tough to keep him off the field. Gaines was a big-time producer at Missouri, and will be in the hunt as a sixth-round pick. Roberson is out to prove it was a mistake that no one drafted him, while Reid hasn't played since 2011 at Florida State. McDonald played just 10 games as a rookie because of injury, but is expected to make big strides this season. McLeod is the wild card. An undrafted free agent in 2012, he is somewhat undersized (5-foot-10, 195), but he had 87 tackles and the team didn't pursue a veteran to replace him. Both McDonald and McLeod have to make more big plays: They combined for three interceptions, 11 passes defensed and one forced fumble last season. Daniels has talent, but has been star-crossed since making the roster as an undrafted free agent in 2012. Injured reserve is where he ended both seasons, and he has played a total of just six games in two years. Davis was promoted from the practice squad last year. Two rookies, Alexander (fourth round) and Bryant (seventh), might be compromised by injuries. Bryant is still recovering from a foot injury that ended his 2013 season at Ohio State after five games, while Alexander underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after suffering an injury in OTAs.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Greg Zuerlein, P Johnny Hekker, P Bobby Cowan, LS Jake McQuaide, PR Tavon Austin, KOR Tavon Austin, Benny Cunningham, Isaiah Pead.
Zuerlein was perceived to have had regressed after a phenomenal rookie season, but the reality was the only difference is he didn't have as many opportunities for long field goals. In his rookie season of 2012, Zuerlein was 7-for-13 on field goals of 50 yards or more. Last season, he had two attempts, and made one. Overall, he was 26-for-28 and his only other miss was from 44 yards. He ended the season with 12 consecutive field-goals made, including one from 54 yards. He also had a touchback on kickoffs percentage of 67.5, which ranked fourth in the league. Hekker set an NFL record with a 44.2-yard net and opponents totaled just 79 return yards. McQuaide is always consistent. Austin had one punt-return touchdown, but isn't expected to return kickoffs because the team doesn't want to use him too much. Cunningham or Pead could win the job unless a younger player emerges in training camp.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--S Matt Giordano (not tendered as UFA).
--QB Brady Quinn (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Will Witherspoon (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--T/G Greg Robinson (1/2): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--DT Aaron Donald (1/13): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Lamarcus Joyner (2/41): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--RB Tre Mason (3/75): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Maurice Alexander (4/110): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB E.J. Gaines (6/188): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Garrett Gilbert (6/214): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--T Mitchell Van Dyk (7/226): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Christian Bryant (7/241): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Michael Sam (7/249): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--C Demetrius Rhaney (7/250): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--C Tim Barnes: ERFA; $570,000/1 yr.
--QB Austin Davis: ERFA; $570,000/1 yr.
--LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar: UFA; $2.006M/2 yrs, $128,821 guaranteed.
--G Rodger Saffold: UFA; $31.347M/5 yrs, $5M SB/$19.5M partially guaranteed/$11M fully guaranteed.
--WR Justin Veltung: ERFA; $495,000/1 yr.
--WR Kenny Britt: UFA Titans; $1.4M/1 yr, $550,000 guaranteed.
--DL Alex Carrington: UFA Bills; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Shaun Hill: UFA Lions; $1.75M/1 yr, $500,000 guaranteed.
--G Davin Joseph: FA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--QB Kellen Clemens: UFA Chargers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DT Jermelle Cudjo (released).
--G Harvey Dahl (released).
--CB Cortland Finnegan (released).
--TE Mike McNeill: Not tendered as RFA/Panthers; $1.52M/2 yr, $100,000 SB.
--CB Quinton Pointer: Not tendered as ERFA/Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--RB Daryl Richardson (released).
--G Shelley Smith: UFA Dolphins; $5.5M/2yrs, $500,000/SB/$1.5M guaranteed.
--S Darian Stewart: UFA Ravens; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G Chris Williams: UFA Bills; $13.5M/4 yrs, $5.5M guaranteed.
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