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Rams should pursue Alshon Jeffery in free agency

Los Angeles possesses a pressing need to add a legitimate No. 1 receiver, and Jeffery fits that mold to a T.

The Los Angeles Rams once again find themselves in a familiar predicament heading into the offseason with major needs to address on the offensive end of the field.

Los Angeles is coming off another disappointing season finishing with a 4-12 record, which included dropping 11 out of their last 12 games. Much of that came as a result of their offensive deficiencies ranking at the bottom of the league in several categories such as being last in points per game (14.0), total offensive yards (262.7), and were 31st in passing yards per game (184.4).

These numbers didn't improve at all if any with rookie quarterback Jared Goff under center for the final seven games of the season. The Rams fell short in the win column in each contest with the offense recording two or fewer touchdowns five times while notching 10 or fewer points in four of those such instances. 

Goff played a huge part of that racking up just 1,089 passing yards on a 54.6 completion percentage with five touchdown passes and seven interceptions and holding a 22.2 quarterback rating. This includes recording at least one interception on four occasions while passing for fewer than 200 yards five times. He also ranked last in the league in yards per completion (5.31), second-worst total quarterback rating, and the fourth-lowest completion percentage. 

The 22-year-old did show some flashes during his first campaign, but for the most part struggled to find any consistency. Be it coming from his lack of experience or poor decision making, Goff vastly underperformed to the standards typically held for a player selected with the first overall selection in the NFL Draft.

A significant part of their problems came from up front with the offensive line that finished 27th in the league according to Pro Football Focus. Greg Robinson headed these issues as he was called for a league-high 14 penalties last season and also graded 73rd out of 80 qualified offensive tackles for the 2016 season. 

Although the front office does sorely need to address their issues along their young offensive line, there remains another pressing need in finding a legitimate No.1 receiving option. It has been a quandary that the team has yet to resolve in any manner since Torry Holt last donned a Rams' uniform eight seasons ago. 

Kenny Britt may be coming off the heels of his best individual season posting career highs with 68 catches and 1,002 receiving yards but he doesn't quite fit the mold of a top receiver. Beyond that, the rest of the Rams' options at the position also fall short of possessing those qualities. Tavon Austin may be slated to get paid like an elite player over the next couple of seasons, but he has yet to demonstrate he can fit in that specific role. 

On top of that, Los Angeles has had plenty of opportunities to find a player that can fulfill that spot but have fallen short in both the draft and free agency over last several years. That said, there could be yet another chance in front of them in free agency to finally resolve that issue. 

There will be several intriguing options available, but Alshon Jeffery tops the list at the position. Through his first five seasons in the league with the Chicago Bears. the former second-round pick of the 2012 NFL Draft has established himself as one of the premier wide receiver talents. However, he has run into problems with his health over the last few years.  

He saw his 2015 season end prematurely due to a hamstring injury, which limited him to taking the field for just nine games. This past year, Jeffery served a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. When he was on the field for the other 12 games, he also wasn't highly effective hauling in 52 catches for 851 yards and two touchdowns. This includes recording five or more catches just twice meanwhile posting just one 100-plus receiving yard performance. 

With the Bears likely to move on from Jeffery, he could become readily available on the open market leading to several teams lining up to acquire his services. The 26-year-old has shown in the past that he can perform like an elite wide receiver as he posted back-to-back campaigns with at least 85 catches and 1,100 receiving yards in his second and third year respectively. 

Los Angeles could very well enter the conversation as a landing spot as the team will have just over $40 million in salary cap space at their disposal. A good chunk of their available payroll could go to their efforts to re-signing both Trumaine Johnson and T.J. McDonald, but the opportunity to acquire a talent such as Jeffery may be too much to pass up on. 

According to Spotrac, his projected market value puts him at around a deal worth $46 million over four years. This falls well within the price range the Rams would be willing to offer to the former Pro Bowler. If they also allow Britt to walk in free agency, Jeffery could become a more feasible option that the team could target. 

All in all, Los Angeles has an opportunity in front of them in free agency to add a player that would not only help resolve their lack of a true No.1 receiver but also become a major part in helping drastically improve their offensive production. This will take a tremendous leap of faith and a huge financial commitment, but the reward has the potential to drastically outweigh the risk. 

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