Rams officially sign free-agent guard Davin Joseph
MAY 28, 2014 4:27p ET
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams officially announced the signing of free-agent guard Davin Joseph to a one-year deal Wednesday.
Joseph, who will turn 31 in November, comes to the Gateway City with a resume that includes two Pro Bowl selections (2008, 2011) but also a reputation that he's probably not the player he used to be following a knee injury that wiped out his 2012 season.
The 6-foot-2, 313-pound former Tampa Bay Buccaneer adds depth and experience to an offensive line in need of both as he is likely to back up the guard combination of Rodger Saffold and No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson.
St. Louis has seen a shakeup at those spots this offseason.
Veteran Harvey Dahl, who began last season as the starting right guard, was released, starting left guard Chris Williams signed a free-agent deal with Buffalo and backup guard Shelley Smith signed with Miami.
The Rams re-signed Saffold to a new five-year deal worth more than $31 million to play right guard, where he excelled in 2013, and then selected Robinson, a left tackle at Auburn, with the first of their two first-round picks earlier this month. All indications are St. Louis will start out the 332-pound Robinson at guard in his rookie season.
Joseph also affords the Rams the ability to move Saffold back to left tackle if veteran Jake Long is not sufficiently recovered from knee surgery. In that event, Joseph could start at right guard.
Before Joseph's signing, the Rams had only youngsters Brandon Washington and Barrett Jones and the recently signed Travis Bond as reserves at guard. Bond was a seventh-round pick by Minnesota in 2013 and was on the Vikings' practice squad when the Panthers signed him. He appeared in two games for Carolina last season but was released and claimed by the Rams last week.
Joseph, who was with Tampa Bay for eight seasons, becomes the third-oldest player on the St. Louis roster, behind only 34-year-old backup quarterback Shaun Hill and 32-year-old center Scott Wells.
Joseph, a 2006 first-round pick from Oklahoma, started 16 games for the Bucs last season but was released in March before the beginning of free agency, which saved the team a $6 million cap hit.
This was a good offseason for offensive linemen, with seven tackles signing contracts worth more than $20 million and six guards, including Williams, signing deals worth more than $12 million.
So it is telling that Joseph, who originally made a free-agent visit to St. Louis in March, was still available to sign with the Rams in late May.
The website ProFootballFocus.com rated Joseph as the second-to-worst guard, No. 80 out of 81 players, in its 2013 season evaluations. PFF rated Joseph as the 46th best (out of 78) in 2011, 82nd (out of 82) in 2010, 75th (out of 84) in 2009 and 57th (out of 74) in 2008.
But even if Joseph can't become the player he was in his two Pro Bowl seasons, he can help the Rams as a backup at an area of need. He will also bring the experience of 99 starts over his 100 career games with the Bucs, something that should help a group of young Rams linemen, including Robinson, to mature.
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.