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Where Austin Davis, Shaun Hill fit for Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Austin Davis and Shaun Hill split starting duties for the St. Louis Rams right down the middle in 2014. Each player started eight games and posted a 3-5 record as the starter.

Both Davis and Hill had a few moments where they looked like they could be solid starters and many more where they didn't. So, basically, they looked like backup quarterbacks forced into full-time starting jobs. As the season wore on, both players' weaknesses were exposed, which is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from backups turned starters.

"I think they showed this year, those guys can be No. 2s in the NFL," general manager Les Snead said. "I always look at a true No. 2 that, you know what, if you're rolling and you're in the window and you have an injury and if you play two to four games, that guy can keep you above water. I think those guys proved it."

Which is fine but for the fact that the Rams need more help at the quarterback position than a couple of backups. That leaves them heading into this offseason in search of a quarterback who can legitimately push Sam Bradford for the starting job. It also means the Rams have to determine the value of Hill and Davis heading into free agency.

After signing a one-year contract with the Rams last offseason, Hill is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year opens March 10. Hill finished the season 145-of-229 for 1,657 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. He helped spark an upset of Denver but followed by struggling against San Diego in a heartbreaking loss the following week.

Hill turned 35 in January, but has said he wants to keep playing and wouldn't mind doing it in St. Louis.

Davis is set to become a restricted free agent, meaning if the Rams want to bring him back, they can control the process by tendering him an offer. Davis finished with slightly better numbers than Hill, going 180-of-284 for 2,001 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. But Davis' knack for costly interceptions-turned-touchdowns landed him back on the bench after a fourth-quarter lead gone by the wayside in Arizona.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher has indicated he would like to retain both quarterbacks, though more as an all-encompassing sentiment than a specific need.

"We have a number of unrestricted free agents that, as a general statement, we’d like to have all back," Fisher said. "We’re going to see if we can get that done.”

The question becomes how the Rams can make that work if they are being sincere about their interest in bringing in a legitimate competitor for Bradford as the starter. It's extremely unlikely the Rams would carry four quarterbacks through the season, meaning they would theoretically have Bradford, a new quarterback from outside the building, and then have to make a choice (either in free agency or after the preseason) between Hill, Davis, and potentially another player from outside the building.

While Hill brings the experience, Davis brings the upside.

"Austin, give credit for being third-stringer, winning at Tampa," Snead said. "I think we were all big fans of that human being, to make plays in the moment. He's a little different than Shaun in that he could ascend."

If the Rams somehow end up in a situation where they have to rely on Hill or Davis as the starter for most of 2015, well, we already know how that movie ends. But there is nothing wrong with having either as a backup. However, they will probably have to make a decision on which one they want for that role rather than having both on the roster again.