EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The free-agent market is scheduled to open March 9, and teams may begin negotiations with those poised to hit the market beginning on March 7. We'll count down to that with a position-by-position look at what the Los Angeles Rams have in place, who is set to hit the market, what they might need, and who might fit the bill.
Position: Wide receiver
What's needed: Once again, the Rams still have a pressing need for a big-time playmaker who would qualify as a true No. 1 type of receiver. They haven't had a 1,000-yard wideout since Torry Holt in 2007, let alone one who has hit 800 receiving yards in a season. In 2015, Rams receivers posted 137 catches for 1,635 yards and eight touchdowns. By way of comparison, Atlanta's Julio Jones finished with 136 catches for 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns. In a perfect world, the Rams could add a receiver of Jones' caliber to help their ailing passing game, but they'd probably settle for a slightly lesser version if they can find one.
It's unlikely Welker will be brought back, though the Rams could give Quick another go if they can get him at a reasonable price (which is doable). Meanwhile, Britt is entering the last year of his contract and the Rams will have to decide whether to use the fifth-year option on Austin, who they want to keep but probably not at the cost of the option. Bailey's status remains up in the air after he was shot twice in the head in November, but the Rams can't really count on his return at this point. So depending on what happens with Quick, the Rams will need not only a top receiver option but some depth as well, which means that they'll probably add more than one receiver to the mix this offseason.
Possible fits: Let's face it, only one receiver that was poised to hit free agency would qualify as a No. 1-caliber wideout. That's Chicago's Alshon Jeffery but, as expected, the Bears didn't let him hit the open market. Chicago placed the franchise tag on Jeffery, so any team that signs him would have to give up two first-round picks to land him if the Bears don't match the offer. Suffice it to say, the Rams won't be doing that. Among the wideouts who will be available when free agency opens, the most appealing names are Seattle's Jermaine Kearse, Cincinnati's Marvin Jones and Cleveland's Travis Benjamin. None would qualify as a No. 1 wideout, but any of them could help bolster the Rams' receiver group. That said, it seems unlikely the Rams would be willing to spend a sizable chunk of money on an average wideout who might only be a marginal upgrade over what they already have. Instead, it's probably a better bet that they'll get Quick back on a prove-it deal and look to the draft to find a real difference maker.