Donnie Avery, Mardy Gilyard Among Rams' Cuts
By Howard Balzer
On Friday, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said getting the team's roster down to the 53-man limit was like a "jigsaw puzzle that we are trying to put together."
By late Saturday afternoon, the puzzle was complete, although some pieces could be replaced in the ensuing days.
As the day ended, the Rams' roster looked like this:
Quarterbacks (2): Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley. Waived: Thaddeus Lewis.
The Rams are clearly hoping Lewis clears waivers so he can be signed to the practice squad. The claiming period ends at 11 a.m. Central time Sunday, at which point teams can start adding to the practice squad.
Wide receivers (7): Danario Alexander, Danny Amendola, Dominique Curry, Brandon Gibson, Austin Pettis, Greg Salas, Mike Sims-Walker. Waived: Donnie Avery, Mardy Gilyard, Greg Mathews. Reserve/physically unable to perform: Mark Clayton.
The notable releases were Avery and Gilyard, as the rookies Pettis and Salas, and Alexander and Curry, who is outstanding on special teams, earned roster spots. Pettis and Salas will likely be inactive on game day, although Salas could be active if there is a need for six receivers. Mathews and Joe West are practice-squad possibilities.
Factoring into the Avery release was the fact he is entering the final year of his contract and it's unlikely he would be re-signed, especially since he's not currently among the team's top three or even four receivers. The Rams made the decision to part ways even though his $638,750 salary for this season is guaranteed. The Rams obviously hope he is claimed, so the new team inherits the guarantee and the Rams would be off the hook for the cash and the cap hit.
However, if he clears waivers, there is no offset, meaning the Rams would owe him the entire salary and it would count against the cap. Avery would make additional money if he was then signed by another team.
Running backs (4): Steven Jackson, Brit Miller (fullback), Jerious Norwood, Cadillac Williams. Waived: Chase Reynolds, Keith Toston.
Toston was a difficult cut for the coaches because of his youth and ability on special teams. But special teams coordinator Tom McMahon couldn't win every battle. Norwood might be used on kickoff returns, but he is a year out from knee surgery and there is a slight risk. Reynolds is a candidate for the practice squad.
Tight ends (4): Billy Bajema, Ben Guidugli, Michael Hoomanawanui, Lance Kendricks. Waived: Demarco Cosby, Fendi Onobun.
Kendricks have been a revelation this summer, and had three touchdowns in four preseason games. Guidugli, whose father was once a personal trainer for former NBA star Dave Cowens, made the roster instead of Onobun, who could end up on the practice squad. Hoomanawanui appears unlikely to play in the season opener because of a strained calf.
Offensive linemen (8): Guard Jacob Bell, center Jason Brown, guard Harvey Dahl, center/guard Hank Fraley, tackle/guard Adam Goldberg, center/guard Drew Miller, tackles Rodger Saffold, tackle Jason Smith. Waived: Tackle Renardo Foster, guard Kevin Hughes, tackle Ryan McKee, guard/tackle Quinn Ojinnaka.
There were some surprises here. Ojinnaka was thought to have had a roster spot secured with Fraley in jeopardy. If on the opening-day roster, Fraley's $1 million contract will become guaranteed. Foster had not played as well in this camp as he did last year, and his salary is $1.2 million. However, Goldberg is now the only backup tackle. Miller and Fraley do the same thing, and Miller is a better guard than Fraley, but he has an injured ankle. McKee and either Hughes or guard Randall Hunt, whose release was announced Friday, are likely headed to the practice squad.
Defensive linemen (9): Ends C.J. Ah You, James Hall, Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Eugene Sims; tackles Justin Bannan, Gary Gibson, Fred Robbins, Darell Scott. Waived: End George Selvie; tackles Marlon Favorite, John Henderson, Daniel Muir.
The release of Muir and Selvie, along with the retention of Scott were eye-opening. Scott started Thursday night against Jacksonville, and has the ability but has also had trouble being consistent. Sims can also move inside, which could have tipped the scales in his favor over Selvie.
Linebackers (7): Chris Chamberlain, Josh Hull, Bryan Kehl, James Laurinaitis, Ben Leber, Brady Poppinga, Jabara Williams. Waived: Zac Diles.
The potential and special teams ability of Williams won out over Diles, who also would have counted almost $800,000 more against the cap than Williams. Kehl started the first two preseason games on the weak side before being replaced by Leber, but he will probably be the nickel linebacker along with Laurinaitis.
Defensive backs (9): Cornerbacks Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, Al Harris, Justin King; safeties James Butler, Craig Dahl, Jermale Hines, Quintin Mikell, Darian Stewart. Waived: Cornerbacks Tim Atchison, Tae Evans; safety Jonathan Nelson.
The Rams are definitely on the lookout for a cornerback, and they have their sights set on Joselio Hanson, who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Rams pursued a trade with the Eagles, as did at least one other team, but Hanson's contract ($1.88 million this year, $2.7 million and $3.1 million the next two years) was thought to be too pricey. Hanson is a stout nickel back, a position that is now uncertain for the Rams. In the preseason, there have been times when King was in the slot; or Bartell was in the slot and Harris on the outside. Thursday night, there were times when Bartell was in the slot and King on the outside.
Butler won a spot over Nelson, who will be on the practice squad if he clears waivers. Atchison also appears headed to the practice squad. Butler does add experience and play-making ability to the back end of the defense.
SPECIALISTS: Kicker Josh Brown, punter/holder Donnie Jones, long snapper Jake McQuaide, kick returners Danny Amendola, Jerious Norwood.
Gilyard returned the bulk of the kicks in all four preseason games.
The only question is whether Amendola returns both kickoffs and punts, or whether Norwood handles kickoff returns.
Re: Donnie Avery, Mardy Gilyard Among Rams' Cuts
Maybe it sounds cold but if Avery does get through waivers & The Rams have to pay him & take the cap hit, I hope he stays unemployed in case of an injury.
I wonder who goes if they get this Hanson? King? Butler?
Everybody send healing thoughts to Drew Miller's ankle so they can cut Fraley before Philly & get a real tackle up in this mofo.. Somebody tweet Pace. A million bucks buys a lot of Taco Bell, Big O.