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Free agency set to begin; Bruce, Rams talk
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
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Rams free agents
SS Adam Archuleta
P Bryan Barker
WR Isaac Bruce*
RB Aveion Cason
CB Terry Fair
CB Corey Ivy
DE Tyoka Jackson
DT Damione Lewis
QB Jamie Martin
G Tom Nutten
DT Ryan Pickett
OL Rex Tucker
TE Roland Williams
* Was under contract but released March 5.
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Earlier in the week, Rams coach Scott Linehan sounded like a disappointed baseball manager. Twice he was ready to get going on free agency, only to see the start of free agency pushed back twice because of the negotiations between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association.
"It's kind of like a rainout," Linehan said Monday. "You're getting ready to go play the opening game, and you don't get to go play."
But on Wednesday night, a labor agreement was reached between owners and players. And that means opening day of free agency is upon us as of midnight tonight, or technically 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Following the labor agreement, the start of free agency was pushed back an additional 24 hours to 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The idea was to give teams a little extra time to re-sign their players and avoid cap casualties with the salary cap getting bumped to $102 million from $94.5 million.
In the case of the 12 Rams scheduled for unrestricted free agency, it doesn't appear as if the extra 24 hours will have much, if any, impact because there has been little in the way of discussions to date.
That total doesn't include wide receiver Isaac Bruce, who was cut Sunday and is free to sign elsewhere. A new contract proposal was being discussed Thursday by the Rams and Bruce. New Orleans is the sixth team known to have expressed interest in Bruce. Carolina, Detroit, Houston, Tampa Bay and Washington also are in the mix.
The headliners on the list of 12 unrestricted free agents are strong safety Adam Archuleta and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett. But as of Thursday afternoon, Archuleta hadn't received anything resembling a firm offer from the Rams. There has been no indication that Pickett has received an offer, either. Pickett's agent, Tom Condon, did not return phone messages from the Post-Dispatch.
Among other prospective free agents, defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson could not be reached for comment. Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for defensive tackle Damione Lewis, declined comment when asked if the Rams had expressed interest in retaining Lewis.
Archuleta has been a starter since his rookie year with the Rams in 2001. Pickett has been a full-time starter for the past four seasons, or since the start of the 2002 campaign. Jackson, 34, has been a defensive team captain each of the past three seasons and a valuable role player since coming to the Rams in 2001.
Lewis started the last seven games of the 2005 season. Archuleta, Pickett and Lewis were first-round draft picks in 2001.
Among other free agents, quarterback Jamie Martin wants to keep playing at age 36; he won three games as a starter last season. But the Rams haven't expressed interest in bringing him back, and Detroit, where Mike Martz is now offensive coordinator, may be a more realistic option.
Tight end Roland Williams entered the 2005 season as the starter ahead of Brandon Manumaleuna before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Game 4. Williams met with Linehan earlier this week and told him that he would like the opportunity to return to the Rams. But Williams may not be ready to practice until early August because of the injury and subsequent surgery.
Guard Tom Nutten, after being placed on injured reserve Nov. 16 with neck and shoulder injuries, may retire. But we've heard the "retirement" word before from Nutten, only to see him resurface with the Rams. But this time, it may stick, in part because Nutten turns 35 in June, and in part because none of the coaches who kept coaxing him out of retirement are still with the Rams.
Cornerback-kick returner Terry Fair also is among those in limbo. "I haven't heard anything from the Rams at all," Fair said Thursday. "I would love to play."
Re: Free agency set to begin; Bruce, Rams talk
Wow, we have a lot of free agents and it does not sound like they are talking to any of them besides Bruce and Archuleta.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
Re: Free agency set to begin; Bruce, Rams talkDrew Rosenhaus, the agent for defensive tackle Damione Lewis"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