Pulling Guards: Rams sign Harvey Dahl, Release Jacob Bell

Harvey Dahl watches over Matt Ryan
Harvey Dahl has a new young quarterback to watch over.

The Rams have been quiet while most of the big names in the free agent and trade market swirl around to land in other NFL cities. But when they’ve struck, it has been with precision, targeting the top players available at positions of need.

And that’s the story here: the Rams were not satisfied with the play of their offensive line’s interior, with due cause. They rank as the worst in the division, posing as a major liability to Sam Bradford’s development and ability to execute Josh McDaniels’ vertical offense.

Thus: Harvey Dahl, who ranked at the top of our list of available guards in free agency, and Quintin Mikell, who topped the list of available free safeties. They may not be positions of the greatest “sex appeal,” but they are positions of the greatest need, as perceived by the team. 

This decision adds dimension to a debate over positional need on the team: who do you have more faith to start his position from game 1 to game 16? John Greco, a 26-year-old guard who has only earned 600 snaps in the last three years, or Fred Robbins, a 34-year-old defensive tackle that has played 94 of the last 96 games?

Knowing the brutal effects of the age curve on NFL players, this is a more difficult question to answer than it sounds, but the decision to pursue Dahl in full force, while offering Brandon Mebane a lesser deal (he re-signed with Seattle today), seemed to give us our answer. 

However, the Rams made a curious move hours after Dahl’s agreement was announced, deciding to release Jacob Bell after he refused to renegotiate his contract. This throws this discussion into a whole new direction.

Of the three interior linemen, Bell was the only positive contributor as rated by Pro Football Focus and other NFL scouts who grind tape for a living. If Dahl, who has played exclusively on the right side, is added as a replacement for Jacob Bell, this becomes a sideways move that throws John Greco back into the mix. 

However, early this morning, another rumor surfaced tying the Rams to long-time Chiefs left guard Brian Waters. Waters was released today after rising from the ranks of the undrafted to an immensely productive 11-year career with in Kansas City. While his ferocity in as a run-blocker has dipped in recent years, his pass protection has stood up strong. 

Waters has allowed only three sacks in the last three years; Dahl, only nine. Fortifying the interior of this line remains a must for the Rams. The question remains how much work can be done in free agency.