Why keeping Lance Kendricks was a Rams priority

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- By now, you've probably already heard the story of tight end Lance Kendricks taking a slightly smaller offer to stay with the St. Louis Rams rather than head south to the Atlanta Falcons.

As Kendricks explained, it was a move made in no small part because of other things on the periphery, such as a close relationship with tight ends coach Rob Boras and promises of an expanded role in the passing game.

From the Rams' side, many of those things held just as true. Upon promoting Boras to assistant head coach/offense and Frank Cignetti to offensive coordinator, the offensive staff began evaluations from last season. One undeniable discovery was Kendricks' role in pretty much everything that they do.

"Coach Boras had a lot to do with him coming back," head coach Jeff Fisher said. "They talked throughout the process. When we sat down and made the offensive change, the offense sat down there [and] started reviewing our run game and the passing game. It became apparent to them that Lance was very important to us moving forward. As an organization we recognized that, so it was important to get him back."

While Kendricks played 569 snaps in 2014, which was second among Rams tight ends and in the neighborhood of 60 percent of the total offensive snaps, it's not so much the number of snaps as the flexibility he gives the offense within those plays. According to Pro Football Focus, Kendricks was asked to run-block on 55 percent of his plays, to pass-block 9 percent of the time and to run a route on 36 percent of his snaps.

It's in the run game that the Rams particularly value Kendricks because he's able to be a lead blocker from the backfield or on the line or even out in space.

As for the idea of Kendricks turning down more money elsewhere, Fisher said that was no concern of his, and he's just happy to have Kendricks back in the fold.

"He was talking with -- I believe Atlanta was a key competitor with him," Fisher said. "It may have been the case where there were a few more pennies on the table there than there were here, but we're excited to get him back."