The Rams are in a tough position as the free-agent market opens on Tuesday. The team went 7-8-1 in 2012, showing immediate improvement in Jeff Fisher’s first season as head coach. The roster was infused with promising young talent. The Rams’ 2-1-1 record against NFC West enemies San Francisco and Seattle offered proof of progress. Obviously, expectations will be elevated for 2013, with anticipation building for a winning record and a wild card playoff spot.

That puts more pressure on Fisher, GM Les Snead and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff to enhance the roster for 2013. Going into last offseason I think it’s fair to say that Fisher, Snead and Demoff were at a much different stage. Fisher and Snead were new; the three-man management team was working together for the first time.

The Rams were coming off a five-year run of brutally unacceptable football, and no one expected an instant miracle from the new regime at Rams Park. The 2012 season was viewed as a transition year, a rebuilding year, a chance for Fisher and Snead to evaluate what they had, and what they needed to do.

But when the Rams went 4-3-1 over the final eight games to finish with their best record since 2006, the psychology was altered. Fans and media will (and should) be looking for another leap forward in 2013. A step back would be simply unacceptable.

And that’s why the Rams are in such a tight squeeze as they rush in — or stay to the side — when the free-agent scrum gets underway.