The St. Louis Rams released Na’il Diggs on Monday in what was called one of the tougher releases by Steve Spagnuolo. Diggs was a well-respected veteran in the locker room and was a starter for the Rams in 2010. The release should not come as much of a surprise due to the influx of multiple free agent linebackers during the short free agent period. The surprising part was that Diggs was the starter for the first two preseason games over the likes of Ben Leber, Zac Diles and Brady Poppinga.
For the Rams it was odd that they would play Diggs as much as they did even though the writing was on the wall for him. Maybe the Rams were trying to garner interest in Diggs on the trade market, but it seemed like a waste of time and reps to play Diggs when the team was clearly going to go in another direction.
With Diggs gone and the roster appearing like it will be set at the maximum 80 after the Rams make a couple of injured reserve moves the next major storyline will be what major names might be the next ones to go? There are a few older players who have been around a while that might not be in the blue and gold come next week at this time.
Here is a list of veteran players that might be in serious trouble.
Hank Fraley: The offensive lineman has not had the best preseason and the Rams might look at him as a place where they could save some salary cap room. Fraley has the versatility to play guard and center, which may wind up saving him, but with the money spent on Harvey Dahl and Jacob Bell they might elect to try and develop some youth at the position instead of sticking with Fraley.
Chris Chamberlain: The Rams have a logjam at the linebacker position as witnessed by the release of Diggs. Chamberlain is an elite special teams player, but will the Rams want to keep a player on the roster that really doesn’t help the defense out? Chamberlain might be a luxury the Rams elect not to keep.
James Butler: It would be surprising to me if Butler makes the team. The Rams are clearly not going to be shy about starting young players in their secondary this season and Butler is on the hot seat. Butler has a high salary cap number for a guy who is probably no more than the fourth best safety on the roster. Butler is a Spagnuolo guy and respected in the locker room, but as we saw with Diggs the writing is on the wall.
These are all tough decisions that will have to be made, but it is a good problem to have. The Rams roster is significantly better in 2011 and when you have competition at almost every position it breeds a playoff caliber team. The Rams are in the process of trying to make that leap and the reduction of some of the veterans is part of that process. We’ll see what happens between now and the cut-down to 53, but I truly think this will be the best roster we have seen in almost seven seasons.
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