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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Jan. 07 2007

    As Scott Linehan fielded questions from the media following the Rams'
    season-ending victory in Minnesota, Stephen Davis stood patiently next to the
    makeshift podium in the visitors' locker room

    Once Linehan finished talking, he was approached by Davis and they stepped into
    a side room for a brief conversation. Perhaps Davis was thanking Linehan for
    giving him a chance to continue his career despite continuing knee problems the
    previous season in Carolina. Perhaps Davis was expressing his interest in
    returning to the Rams in 2007.

    So does Davis want to come back?

    "Of course," he said. "I've just got to sit back and see what happens. This
    worked out very well. Great, actually."

    Let the jockeying and the decision-making begin. Davis is one of 14 players
    on the Rams' roster scheduled for unrestricted free agency March. 2. Between
    now and then, no one can (legally) negotiate with these players except for the
    Rams.

    When Linehan spoke of using the next few weeks to evaluate the Rams' personnel,
    it was partly with the free agents 14 unrestricted and five restricted in
    mind. Who will the Rams try to bring back in that group? And who will they just
    let go?

    Fourteen may seem like a large number of unrestricted free agents, but the
    only players in the group who began the season as starters were cornerback
    Travis Fisher and fullback Paul Smith. The injury-plagued Smith was quickly
    replaced by Madison Hedgecock as the starter. Fisher doesn't figure into the
    Rams' plans, not after missing the final seven games of the season with a
    broken forearm. And not after Tye Hill played well enough in Fisher's absence
    to show he was the future.

    Also among the Rams' unrestricted free agents:

    Nos. 3 and 4 wide receivers, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald.

    Todd Steussie, who started 15 games at guard and tackle because of injuries,
    but began the season as a backup.

    Brandon Green, who started the last five games at right end because of Victor
    Adeyanju's forearm injury, but began the season as the No. 4 defensive end.

    Punter Matt Turk and kickoff returner Willie Ponder.

    While not to diminish the efforts of those players, some of whom the Rams will
    try to bring back, none are season-breakers if they depart. In fact, the Rams
    rarely have been so well-positioned entering the offseason in terms of their
    prospective free agents.

    After signing five players from the '06 practice squad to the offseason roster,
    the Rams have 46 players under contract for 2007 and beyond. (The practice
    squad players signed, according to the NFL Players Association, are: tight end
    Mark Anelli, cornerback Josh Lay, linebacker Tim McGarigle, wide receiver
    Dominique Thompson, and running back J.D. Washington.)

    In addition, the Rams will have matching rights with the five restricted free
    agents a group that includes starting linebacker Brandon Chillar by making
    one-year tender offers.

    In-season contract extensions kept two of the Rams' top defensive players end
    Leonard Little and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa from becoming unrestricted free
    agents this offseason.

    As a result, the most pressing issue for the Rams in terms of current personnel
    might just be extending the contract of quarterback Marc Bulger. Fresh off a
    career year and a Pro Bowl berth, Bulger enters the final year of his contract
    next season.

    "It's a no-brainer that we want Marc to be our quarterback as long as Marc
    wants to play quarterback in this league," Linehan said Tuesday, when asked
    about a Bulger contract extension. "But we're doing it in logical phases, and
    we're going to be getting to that here, it sounds like pretty quick."

    Always the realist, president of football operations Jay Zygmunt said Friday
    evening, "it's a possibility" that Bulger could be signed to an extension this
    offseason. Some kind of dialogue between the Rams and Bulger's agent are
    expected in the coming weeks.

    Obviously, the Rams would like to re-sign Curtis, the team's fourth-leading
    receiver this season in both catches (40) and yards (479). Those numbers
    represented a significant dip from Curtis' 2005 totals, when he had 60 catches
    for 801 yards. But Curtis started nine games in '05, largely because of Isaac
    Bruce's dislocated toe. Bruce stayed healthy this season, and Curtis' playing
    time was reduced.

    "I love being here," Curtis said after the Vikings game. "It's been an
    unbelievable experience. I've loved every minute of it. ... We'll see where it
    goes. I didn't even have an agent until this week. So to tell you the truth, I
    haven't looked ahead to that at all yet."

    Curtis recently signed with one of the most high-profile agents in the NFL
    Tom Condon. Despite his comments about playing in St. Louis, Curtis doesn't
    deny the fact that being a starter somewhere would be enticing.

    "I think any player wants to be on the field as much as he can," Curtis said.
    "Obviously, there's lots of variables. ... You want to win games. But I don't
    think there's any doubt I'd like to be on the field more."

    Turk gave the Rams the best punting they've had in years, with his consistent
    hang time, leg strength and directional skills.

    "I was talking with my wife about that earlier this week, and I honestly
    believe it was my best year as a pro," Turk said Tuesday. "We were one punt
    from being the first punt team to net 40 yards the Nate Burleson return."

    Even accounting for Burleson's 90-yard punt return for Seattle against the Rams
    on Nov. 12, Turk's net average was 38.3 yards, the seventh-best total in the
    league.

    Punters love kicking in the climate-controlled indoors, so he would like
    nothing better than to return to St. Louis. He also likes the direction the
    team is heading, after winning three in a row to close the season.

    "I think we've got a good thing going," Turk said. "You need a year or two for
    guys to start to get that chemistry of playing together, and have that sense of
    confidence in each other. I think we've got that going on, and I think we can
    get better."

    Steussie revived his NFL career with the Rams after sitting on the bench for
    most of the previous two seasons in Tampa Bay.

    "Perception becomes reality after a little bit," Steussie said. "After sitting
    on the bench for a year and a half in Tampa, maybe people thought that I
    couldn't play at a high level. I was fortunate from the (Rams) injuries to have
    that opportunity."

    But Steussie's inclination is to at least test free agencys in March.

    "I appreciate everything that this team has done for me," Steussie said. "By no
    means am I ruling this out, coming back here. But I think I owe myself at least
    the obligatory look and see what's out there."


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Jan. 07 2007
    The most pressing issue for the Rams in terms of current personnel
    might just be extending the contract of quarterback Marc Bulger. Fresh off a
    career year and a Pro Bowl berth, Bulger enters the final year of his contract
    next season.

    "It's a no-brainer that we want Marc to be our quarterback as long as Marc
    wants to play quarterback in this league," Linehan said Tuesday, when asked
    about a Bulger contract extension. "But we're doing it in logical phases, and
    we're going to be getting to that here, it sounds like pretty quick."

    Always the realist, president of football operations Jay Zygmunt said Friday
    evening, "it's a possibility" that Bulger could be signed to an extension this
    offseason. Some kind of dialogue between the Rams and Bulger's agent are
    expected in the coming weeks.
    No Brainer is an understatement in myn opinion. Strange statement by Linehan....As long as Marc wants to play in this league?? Where else would he go??? The Arena league? Duh!

  3. #3
    Kane is offline Registered User
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    Quite a large number of Rams becoming Free Agents this year. Having looked at teh full list there's not many that it would be a huge disappointment if they left. Some I would like to see bcak, but only at the right price.

    Wonder what will happen with Marshall Faulk, too?

  4. #4
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    some of the free agents leaving, eg Butler and Fisher, are definitely a case of getting rid of bad Martz draft choices

    depending how FA goes you could see others leave as well

  5. #5
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    some of the free agents leaving, eg Butler and Fisher, are definitely a case of getting rid of bad Martz draft choices
    Butler is not a free agent. He's under contract through 2009 and would have to be cut/traded to leave the team before then.
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  6. #6
    ramsplaya16's Avatar
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane View Post
    Quite a large number of Rams becoming Free Agents this year. Having looked at the full list there's not many that it would be a huge disappointment if they left. Some I would like to see back, but only at the right price.

    Wonder what will happen with Marshall Faulk, too?
    Actually, my dad told me a few days ago that marshall faulk signed a multi year deal with ABC,(Or some tv station) and, if true, it means he is done, but that's what my dad said he saw, sorry I can't confirm if its true, you will have to check it out
    Built RAM tough

  7. #7
    RamOfDenmark is offline Registered User
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    You'd have to think Butler gets cut after nearly not playing at all this year, I think he's very eager to leave too. Does anyone know what the cap hit will be when we trade/cut him? Hopefully not too much dead money again like we had with Turley/Warner a while ago, that kind of thing can hold a team back...

    (P.S I still believe not letting Butler play this year was a mistake, but with the emergence of our younger guys - Tye Hill, Ron Bartell etc. he is becoming less of an issue)

  8. #8
    RamFan_Til_I_Die's Avatar
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsplaya16 View Post
    Actually, my dad told me a few days ago that marshall faulk signed a multi year deal with ABC,(Or some tv station) and, if true, it means he is done, but that's what my dad said he saw, sorry I can't confirm if its true, you will have to check it out
    I checked around and I'd have to gueess rumor, because it hesn't been printed anywhere mainstream.

  9. #9
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    I have no idea where he heard it, but it may be true...ill ask him when I get home, because I'm on my way to school
    Built RAM tough

  10. #10
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    have you asked him yet rp16?

  11. #11
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    Re: 54 days 'til free-agent shopping

    We need some Defense acquisitons.Right Now.

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