ST. LOUIS -- The final payout is coming due from the Robert Griffin III deal, and the St. Louis Rams would love a repeat of last year’s draft haul.
For now, they’re sitting on a valuable bargaining chip.
“I don’t want to sit here and go, ‘Guess what, we’re trading back no matter what,”’ general manager Les Snead said Thursday. “What if you’re there and nobody wants to trade? What if you actually want to take a player?”
A key factor in the March 2012 trade with the Redskins was the Colts cutting Peyton Manning, which put Indianapolis in line to snag Andrew Luck and drove up the Rams’ asking price. If anyone wants to trade up this year, Snead anticipates it will happen a lot closer to the draft.
The Texans have the first pick and could go for one of a trio of quarterbacks expected to get drafted early—Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Fresno State’s Derek Carr.
The Rams aren’t in that sweepstakes. They’re committed to Sam Bradford, the first overall pick of the 2010 draft who’s expected back at full strength from knee surgery. They’ve scouted the top quarterbacks, but mostly to determine market value. Snead said it was not a good idea to draft a quarterback early that’s “more than likely holding a clipboard.”
“When we set out on this thing we said we weren’t one player away,” Snead said. “That’s one of the reasons we did the trade, to be able to acquire as many players as possible.
“As we’ve said, Sam’s our starting QB.” Snead said.
The Rams have the Redskins’ second overall pick, plus their own 13th selection. Last year, they parlayed the 16th and 22nd picks into a batch of budding talent. Their two-year haul includes Tavon Austin, Alec Ogletree, Zac Stacy, Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins.
Austin is one of the NFL’s top young game-breakers, Ogletree led the team in tackles to end James Laurinaitis’ four-year run, Stacy just missed rushing for 1,000 yards, Brockers has been a force at defensive tackle and Jenkins was the top cornerback in just his second season.
“When we’re all sitting there reading the history of this franchise, that one’s going to be talked about and evaluated and scrutinized and graded,” Snead said. “Just because this is the last phase of it doesn’t mean it’s any more urgent.”
To make the jump to contending status after consecutive seven-win seasons, St. Louis needs help in the secondary and at wide receiver. They’ve lacked a No. 1 pass receiving threat for several years, although last year’s results are skewed because Bradford missed the last nine games and the Rams emphasized the run under backup Kellen Clemens.
Bringing in a veteran wide receiver could hold back a young group. In addition to Austin and fellow rookie Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Brian Quick have played two seasons and Austin Pettis is a three-year veteran.
“If the process works, all these guys get experience, they grow together and guess what, at the end of the year you have more than seven wins and if that’s the case everybody goes, ‘OK, it’s worked out,”’ Snead said. “You have to be disciplined.”
Rather than targeting a position or two, Snead said the Rams need to keep building depth.
“Here’s what I can truly say: I don’t think we have just this glaring need that’s beeping, at all,” Snead said. “I’ll say it a ton of times: We have a core here to keep adding to.”