After a long flirtation, the Rams finally signed troubled wide receiver Kenny Britt to a one-year deal.
The deal appears to be pretty team-friendly, as it’s worth up to $1.4 million and only comes with $550,000 of guaranteed money. If Britt hits all of his incentives, the deal could be worth $2.9 million.
If Britt wasn’t an immensely talented, 25-year-old former first-round pick, he would probably be searching for a job in the CFL or Arena league right now. Instead, he earned a shot with the Rams because of all that untapped potential.
Britt’s size (6’3, 225 pounds), speed (4.47 second 40-yard dash) and strength (23 reps of 225 pound bench press) enticed the Tennessee Titans enough to make him the 30th overall pick in the 2009 draft. His career got off to a promising start, as he caught 42 balls for 701 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season. The next season, Britt again caught 42 balls, this time for 775 yards and nine touchdowns. Had he not missed four games that season, he likely would have surpassed 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, putting him in really good company.
But therein lies the problem with Britt. His career has been full of “had he nots” and “what ifs.”
Had he not torn his ACL and MCL in the third game of his 2011 season, Britt might have fulfilled the enormous potential he displayed in his first two seasons. Had he not had a plethora of troubling off-field incidents, he might not have fallen out of favor with the Titans upon his return from injury in 2012. (It didn’t help that he was suspended for the first game of that season due to his numerous arrests.) Had Jeff Fisher not been dismissed by the Titans after the 2010 season, maybe Britt would have kept his nose clean and therefore played better football. He clearly responded better and performed better with Fisher as his head coach than Mike Munchak.
Britt’s success with Fisher relative to Munchak over the past three seasons is likely a significant reason the Rams are taking a chance on him despite his shaky injury history, off-field issues and overall poor performance in recent seasons.
But still, one has to wonder, what exactly is the Rams’ plan at wide receiver? As our friends at Ramsherd pointed out last night, the Rams now have six receivers on the roster between ages 23 and 25, none of whom can be considered even a no. 2-level receiver when compared against league average. The Rams also remain likely to draft another receiver in the top two or three rounds of this draft, but again, that person will be an unproven commodity.
Of the six receivers on the roster right now, it appears that only Tavon Austin is completely safe heading into training camp. Everyone else – including Britt – can be cut with minimal cap implications. On one hand, this could help foster a dog-eat-dog mentality that could help a guy with something to prove – like Britt, for example – finally realize his vast potential.
However, it’s also troubling that the Rams – barring something unforeseen – are yet again going into a season with an unclear picture at wide receiver. Even if the team drafts Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans or another receiver at the top of the draft, that rookie will join the rest of the wide receiver corps under the category as “unproven talent.” And I haven’t even brought up the disgusting recent history of failed free agent wide receivers the Rams have brought in (a list that includes Mike Sims-Walker, Drew Bennett and the wrong Steve Smith, among others).
Not exactly an ideal wide receiver situation, but we’ll see how training camp plays out.