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  1. #1
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    Claiborne Signs With Rams

    Thursday, March 3, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    There was little doubt that the Rams’ biggest defensive weakness last season was at linebacker. As fast as many running backs ran through the St. Louis defense, the Rams struck in free agency.

    One day after adding former Dallas linebacker Dexter Coakley, St. Louis made another big move. Former Minnesota linebacker Chris Claiborne signed a three-year contract with the Rams on Thursday. The deal is believed to be worth about $10.5 million with a signing bonus of $3.6 million.

    Claiborne spent two years with the Vikings after four years in Detroit. The Rams had expressed interest in Claiborne before he signed with Minnesota three years ago.

    Rams defensive coordinator Larry Marmie said he is pleased about the team’s pair of quick strikes in free agency.

    “We are excited and we think we have helped our football team here in the last few days,” Marmie said. “Chris Claiborne is a guy that we have all known about for the past several years. Of course, (we) remember him when he came out and he’s a big physical guy that has great presence in the run game. The thing that’s surprising about him is he’s very athletic and he is not a one-dimensional player by any stretch.”

    In 87 career games, Claiborne has 720 tackles, 14.5 sacks, eight interceptions and nine forced fumbles. He was the ninth pick of Detroit in 1999 out of USC. He had 82 tackles in 12 games for the Vikings last season.
    The biggest knock on Claiborne has been his propensity for injury and battles with his weight. He missed four games last season and four more in 2003.

    “He has had some bumps and bruises and all…but he passed our physical with flying colors,” Marmie said. “He has been a physical player and I don’t think there is any concern. There is no injury history with him that threw up any red flags for us.”

    The addition of Claiborne completes the Rams’ drastic makeover of the linebacking corps. It started with the move of outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa to strong safety and the expected departure of Tommy Polley. Those moves left two starting positions open.

    It is a possibility that Tinoisamoa could end up back at linebacker, depending on what the Rams do in the draft. St. Louis will still have some room under the salary cap to make another move, especially if it can get left tackle Orlando Pace signed to a cap-friendly long-term deal.

    The Rams wasted no time in filling those holes at linebacker, signing Coakley and Claiborne within about 24 hours. Claiborne will likely take over in the middle with Coakley a possibility to play either of the outside spots.

    Marmie said the addition of Coakley is important for many reasons.

    “I know he’s heard this for a long time, he’s not as big as a lot of people that play that position, but his production and what he’s done in the league he is certainly a proven player. He is a guy that we think brings some versatility. He, at one time or another has played all three positions in Dallas.”

    St. Louis will probably continue to shop in the free agent market, with offensive line, defensive line and the secondary as primary targets.

    The linebacker spot is seemingly taken care of, but Marmie hinted that maybe there is more to be done, though that work might come primarily through the draft.

    “We are just trying to improve our football team,” Marmie said. “It (linebacker) is the area that we had a chance to get started with and I’m sure we are still looking to improve.”


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Claiborne Signs With Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    It is a possibility that Tinoisamoa could end up back at linebacker, depending on what the Rams do in the draft. St. Louis will still have some room under the salary cap to make another move, especially if it can get left tackle Orlando Pace signed to a cap-friendly long-term deal.
    I like the idea of keeping Pisa at LB over starting Thomas, but it doesn't sound like the Rams have much of a choice with Pisa's size and shoulder concerns. There are a number of solid strong safeties on the market. If the Rams could land one, then Pisa may be free to move back to LB if he can bulk up.
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    Re: Claiborne Signs With Rams

    On CC: "Wears his lucky #55 jersey with the Vikings, the same as USC."


    Okay now, who gets to wear No. 55 with the Rams? :smile:

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    Re: Claiborne Signs With Rams

    Claiborne wants 55 and is from USC, Thomas currently wears 55 and is from UCLA. I think we have a problem. :redface:

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    Re: Claiborne Signs With Rams

    I don't give a rip who wears what number. Finally, we have done something in free agency worth a damn. Last year we sat on our hands and watched all of the other teams have all of the fun and improve. Hopefully, this isn't the end of the off season transactions. We need to get Pace signed or dealt once and for all or get on about it. There are still alot of positive things that are available to us this off season, in FA or the draft, if we work it properly. I like the strong emphasis on defense, especially at LB, but, we need to make sure we can protect MB with some new off season aquisitions to cover the retirements and injuries of so many on the OL.

    So far, I like what I see. Let's keep the "Big Mo" go'in!!!!

    Go Rams!!!

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    Re: Claiborne Signs With Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by viper3
    I don't give a rip who wears what number. Finally, we have done something in free agency worth a damn. Last year we sat on our hands and watched all of the other teams have all of the fun and improve. Hopefully, this isn't the end of the off season transactions. We need to get Pace signed or dealt once and for all or get on about it. There are still alot of positive things that are available to us this off season, in FA or the draft, if we work it properly. I like the strong emphasis on defense, especially at LB, but, we need to make sure we can protect MB with some new off season aquisitions to cover the retirements and injuries of so many on the OL.

    So far, I like what I see. Let's keep the "Big Mo" go'in!!!!

    Go Rams!!!
    My feelings exactly let concentrate on the O-line now.Lets get some good young vets or some great draft picks.Sighing in some relief. :ramlogo:

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