Why No Use of the Franchise Tag for the Rams Can Only Mean 1 of 2 Things

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterFebruary 22, 2013

May 11, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead looks on during mini camp at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Rams general manager Les Snead took it upon himself to break a bit of news to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com. Snead told the Around the League reporter that the Rams would not be using the franchise tag on wide receiver Danny Amendola, or any other player for that matter.

He also referenced the fact that he has a couple of big-ticket items to handle in his "inbox" over the next couple of weeks. One of those big-ticket items is the contract of veteran running back Steven Jackson with the other being the future of Amendola.

Unfortunately for the Rams, based on their salary cap situation, they will only be able to sign one of the two players mentioned above. At this point, it's beginning to look like that one player will be SJ39. St. Louis has repeatedly made public its desire to re-sign him.

No exact count of how many times the Rams have actually publicized it, but I can say it has for sure been more than any endorsement of Amendola.

Sure, the Rams would like him back as well, but they know No. 16 is at the point where he's going to test the market. Not to mention the dollar figure they have attached to his name is most likely a lot lower than that of a team which is desperate for his services.

It happens every year—there are always one or two players that rob a team blind. In all honesty, I see the 27-year-old wideout doing that to some team this year.

With Jackson, on the other hand, there's no beating around the bush contractually. Everything is pretty cut-and-dry.

St. Louis has an ideal price and contract length in mind when it comes to Jackson.

In all reality, the deal wouldn't be more than two years and it probably wouldn't guarantee him any more than the first year of the deal. In a perfect world, the Rams could ride him one more year while using an early Day 2 pick on a top-tier back.

This would allow the rookie running back to be groomed behind Jackson for at least one season. The expectations for the rookie would be lower and it would give the seven-year pro the opportunity to showcase his skills for another year. By no means is SJ39 done after collecting his eighth straight 1,000-yard season, but eventually all good things must come to an end.

His current skill set, coupled with other underlying factors, is better suited for a more experienced team on the cusp of a Super Bowl.

Jeff Fisher and Snead turned over the roster from top to bottom in 2012 and knew overnight success wouldn't be immediate. The Rams outplayed everyone's expectations this past season, but they still have a ways to go in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL.

It's going to take a lot more than the success of one player to make this team an annual playoff contender—which is also one of the reasons why I believe Amendola won't be missed if he does indeed ink a large, multi-year deal somewhere else.

His prior injury history is too great at this point. A team which is strapped for cash can't be throwing around money like it's playing Monopoly. You're only allowed to do that if your name is Mike Tannenbaum—I hear he likes to dish out high-dollar contracts to injury-prone, aging players. 

So if it's up to you, Rams fans, who do you keep: Jackson or Amendola?

Drop a line below in the comments section and let me know what you're thinking. It's likely the biggest decision St. Louis will be making from now until the end of free agency.