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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Balzer on Ram Rookies

    The Future of the Rams Rookies
    By: Howard Balzer
    Date: Jul 20, 2006

    The St. Louis Rams open Trainging Camp one week from today...and many questions still remain about the Rookie Class.

    It is exactly one week before the Rams' first practice of training camp, and there is a lot to be done to get the teams rookies there on time. Granted, there are 11 other teams that haven't signed any of their draft picks, but according to one agent for a Rams draft pick, he hasn't heard from the Rams for about two weeks. Another agent said the Rams are sending the message that their rookie pool isn't large enough, and they are unsure how they will fit everyone under the pool of $4.88 million. However, the problem isn't only the pool, but the Rams' reluctance to be creative in fashioning contracts.

    Here are the issues in play this year:

    The overall salary cap went up about 20 percent, but the rookie pool increased only 5 percent. In addition, the minimum salary rose from $230,000 to $275,000, an increase of just under 20 percent. That's a problem.

    Consider that all picks after the first round receive a signing bonus along with minimum base salaries. The Rams have nine selections from the second through the seventh round. Thus, the 2006 base salaries alone for those nine players totals $2.475 million, a bit more than half of the entire rookie pool. With the remaining $2.41 million, the Rams have to fit in prorated signing bonuses for all 10 picks, plus the base salary for first-round pick Tye Hill.

    Further complicating matters is that the Rams have three third-round picks. Many of the contracts for later-round picks have been for four years, so a somewhat larger signing bonus can be prorated over those four years. Normally, a four-year deal for a rookie is not good for the player because if they are good enough to last with the team, they sacrifice their restricted free-agent year, which comes after three accrued seasons.

    The tradeoff is that those contracts will include a voidable fourth year based on reaching a certain performance level, or incentives that aren't that difficult to reach if the player contributes. The issue with the Rams is that they historically prefer "clean" deals that don't include incentives or voidable years.

    By next week, something will have to give.

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  2. #2
    bubbaramfan Guest

    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    I know what will give. There will be draftee's that don't get contracts and won't make it to camp on time. I don't expect to see T Hill in camp till its almost over, just like last year with #1 A Barron. Some things never change.

  3. #3
    RamsFan16 Guest

    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Wow. I had no idea that our problem with not have signing any of them were because of our "Small Draft Pick Pool". I wouldn't be suprised to see Coakley cut soon, and a few other veterans perhaps trading Fisher for a cheap SLB or something?

    Either way this explains alot to why we haven't signed any yet, other than G/T Mark Setterstrom.


    Also, one agent for a Rams Rookie hasnt' heard from the Rams in two weeks? Yea were running low on money right now but thats just uncalled for, we should be in contact with there agents more than once a week.

    That kind of upsets me what heck, its a business and were apart of it of Fans. So its our duty to be emotional over these actions.

    Good Luck Front office, lets get this done!
    Last edited by RamsFan16; -07-21-2006 at 12:30 AM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan16
    Wow. I had no idea that our problem with not have signing any of them were because of our "Small Draft Pick Pool". I wouldn't be suprised to see Coakley cut soon, and a few other veterans perhaps trading Fisher for a cheap SLB or something?

    Either way this explains alot to why we haven't signed any yet, other than G/T Mark Setterstrom.


    Also, one agent for a Rams Rookie hasnt' heard from the Rams in two weeks? Yea were running low on money right now but thats just uncalled for, we should be in contact with there agents more than once a week.

    That kind of upsets me what heck, its a business and were apart of it of Fans. So its our duty to be emotional over these actions.

    Good Luck Front office, lets get this done!
    amen to that one dude, I hope they don't mess it up with Tye Hill not being in camp, that'll be real bad, or the TE's that we drafted. I don't want to see a trade for Fisher, because I think he's good, so I'd definitely keep him but Coakley is more than likely going to get cut, and whatever happened to Claiborne, didn't we cut him as well? I hope this works out ok, so far it seems everything has, lets pray for the best guys...


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  5. #5
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan16
    Wow. I had no idea that our problem with not have signing any of them were because of our "Small Draft Pick Pool". I wouldn't be suprised to see Coakley cut soon, and a few other veterans perhaps trading Fisher for a cheap SLB or something?
    Cutting Coakley or other vets would do nothing to change our rookie pool, though. The rookie pool is essentially a cap within the cap - it's the maximum number you can spend on your rookies and is based on preset values assigned to every draft pick. It has nothing to do with veterans or a team's main salary cap situation, to my knowledge.

    The problem, as Balzer puts it, is that while salaries have gone up nearly 20% since last year the rookie pool has only grown 5%. So you've got a fairly significant increase in minimum salaries but the growth in room to put those salaries is not proportional.

    And since the Rams had so many selections, specifically on the first day where contracts are going to be more expensive, it means we have a lot of players to fit under that rooftop without a lot of space. To complicate matters, the Rams don't like to get fancy with their contracts. I seem to remember it was a trouble spot for Alex Barron's deal last year, and once again seems to haunt us again. The Rams don't like putting these options in their deals, but they're going to have to do something if they want all these players under contract.

    To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if McGarigle and Palmer didn't make the team. Palmer's already in a bad situation because Setterstrom already signed and the Rams may view a second seventh-round guard as expendable given the tight pool situation. As for McGarigle, he's competing for a back-up job with Trev Faulk, who is already on the roster, so he's in an uphill battle as well since the front office may not want to spend valuable rookie pool space on a player whose role is already filled by someone on the roster.

    But while cutting a veteran like Coakley would free up cap space for the main salary cap, it would do nothing towards the rookie cap. We need more room under the rookie pool, and to my knowledge that's impossible to get once you've made your selections.
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  6. #6
    bubbaramfan Guest

    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Nick, does this mean we had too many draft picks? Why did we even draft these guys if there was no money to sign them? Couldn't the bean counters figure this out? Maybe they shoud have traded some picks for a veteran. I'm trying to make sense out of all this. Seems lika a waste of effort to just let a couple picks go without finding out what they could do in camp. Another team is going to sign them, and the Rams get nothing. Just doesn't sound very smart to me. Especially if they end up being good players. 7th rounders have made the roster more than once in the NFL.

  7. #7
    RamOfDenmark Guest

    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    What if we cut or don't sign a draft pick and then afterwards negotiate a contract (which would make that player an unsigned free agent I think?), would we then escape the rookie pool or does the rookie pool count for all rookie players (i.e not just draft picks, but also unsigned free agents)? Of course if this was doable we could be running the risk of letting another team sign guys from our draft class.

    I really hope most of our draft class shows up for camp, especially the high-round picks - they *know* they will get signed eventually so hopefully they'll realise that it's in their and our best interest if they get some reps ASAP. No more Alex Barron type (or worse) situations please!

  8. #8
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    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Silver lining...Jay Zygmunt loses his job?

  9. #9
    AugustaRamFan Guest

    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    It's hard to compare the Barron situation from last year to the Tye Hill situation this year. Barron was a projected starter and his lack of reps in training camp delayed his progress and his playing time.

    Tye Hill is projected as the 5th DB and not as a starter. So although I want to see him (and all the rookies) in camp he is not a top priority in my mind.

    This year Kloppy is projected as a starter. The FO needs to get him and Byrd signed and in camp asap.

  10. #10
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    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Quote Originally Posted by chiguy
    Silver lining...Jay Zygmunt loses his job?
    We can only hope. But you've hit upon the root of it all.....this falls squarely on the shoulders of Jay Zygmunt. If the answer is creative contracts, then it's Zygmunt's job to be creative. Don't tell me he "likes clean contracts". I don't care what he likes. If creative incentive-laden 4th year contracts is what it takes, then make it happen, Jay.

    There's no Martz to blame this time. Step up or step out, Ziggy.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  11. #11
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    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Oh we can find some way to blame Martz for this. I know, "he never used tight ends effectively in his offense so because of that we had to go out and draft two in the third round".

  12. #12
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    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    does this mean that we cant get FS Smith?? What a mess!! Lucky i'm not in the group of people doing the contracts..... The coaches must be fustrated!

  13. #13
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Quote Originally Posted by bubbaramfan
    Nick, does this mean we had too many draft picks? Why did we even draft these guys if there was no money to sign them?
    Well, I for one have no idea if the front office had any idea what the rookie pool figure would be, so it's hard to say they should have known they wouldn't have the pool space necessary to get them signed.

    But on the other hand, last year they had eleven draft picks to sign and had problems fitting Richie Incognito in under the pool. With ten picks this year, half of which are first day selections, the front office should have at least anticipated that it would be tough and, once the pool number was released, begin negotiations and contract talks much sooner.

    It sounds as if they haven't done a lot in terms of getting these deals done, and now it's down to crunch time. I blame them for that, primarily.


    Quote Originally Posted by RamOfDenmark
    What if we cut or don't sign a draft pick and then afterwards negotiate a contract (which would make that player an unsigned free agent I think?), would we then escape the rookie pool or does the rookie pool count for all rookie players (i.e not just draft picks, but also unsigned free agents)? Of course if this was doable we could be running the risk of letting another team sign guys from our draft class.
    Honestly I have no idea about this, but as you said if it's do-able you run the risk of another team signing him to a bigger deal than you're offering.


    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan4ever
    does this mean that we cant get FS Smith??
    Not necessarily. Lack of space under the rookie pool, from what I know about our case, does not equate to a lack of general cap space. They're two connected but different things.

    But before we see questions like this appearing all over the board about not being able to sign Smith, let's be clear that interest in Smith thus far is from the fans only. I haven't heard anything from the team that says they're interested in him, so maybe we should hold back on these kind of questions.
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  14. #14
    STLRAMSFAN Guest

    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    The Cleveland Browns signed first-round pick Kamerion Wimbley to a six-year, $23.7 million deal Saturday.

    The linebacker, taken 13th overall, is the second player selected in the first round to reach a deal. No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams signed with the Houston Texans before the draft.
    This could be a good thing since Tye Hill was a defensive player taken at 16 it should help start setting the price for his position in the draft. Alot of teams like to wait for draftees that are near their selection to sign before they sign their own so they can see what the price range should be for their player. The more people that sign near Hills position the quicker it will set Hills market price.

  15. #15
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    Re: Balzer on Ram Rookies

    Quote Originally Posted by STLRAMSFAN
    This could be a good thing since Tye Hill was a defensive player taken at 16 it should help start setting the price for his position in the draft. Alot of teams like to wait for draftees that are near their selection to sign before they sign their own so they can see what the price range should be for their player. The more people that sign near Hills position the quicker it will set Hills market price.
    As well, Michael Huff has signed with Oakland. So now the #7 and #13 are both in camp. Hopefully, this opens the flood gates for Hill to get swept into.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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