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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Free agent Fisher is kept wondering about his future

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Throughout the NFL, dozens of free agents spent Friday flying here and there to meet with teams.

    Rams defensive end Bryce Fisher, an unrestricted free agent, also spent his Friday flying. In an F-15 fighter plane.

    As part of his weekend Missouri Air National Guard commitment, Fisher took a spin in an F-15 piloted by Air Force Major Mike Jurries. Fisher underwent 2 1/2 hours of training Friday just to get ready for his one-hour flight.

    "It was fun to get him up there," Jurries said. "Because Bryce is in a position that he gets to mentor a lot of kids, and go out and talk to people. As far as representing the Air Force, it's a chance for him to kind of see what fighter pilots do."

    The 110th Fighter Squadron of the 131st Fighter Wing is tucked away rather innocuously next to Lambert Field. There are 15 fighter jets stationed there. Several of the fighter pilots now stationed there shot down MIGs during the Persian Gulf War 14 years ago.

    Jurries, like Fisher, attended the U.S. Air Force Academy. And like Fisher, he played football there. Friday marked Fisher's first time in a fighter jet, and if nothing else the mission was a success simply because he didn't vomit.

    What Jurries called "an advanced form of car sickness or motion sickness" is commonplace among novice flyers.

    Fisher said, "We went in and out of the clouds - that's where I got a little sick, started feeling like I was going to be sick. I made it out without puking."

    Because the flight plan called for them not to exceed 18,000 feet, Jurries and Fisher couldn't break the sound barrier. But they were still traveling nearly 10 miles a minute - fast enough to make it to the Arkansas border and back in less than an hour.

    Fisher got to steer for just a brief while. The entire experience, Fisher said, "is not something I could really describe unless you've seen it."

    The rest of Fisher's weekend duty isn't as glamorous. He has some paperwork to tackle. Chemical gear training. Safety training. It's all part of his one-weekend-a-month National Guard duty. (During football season he's allowed to fulfill that commitment by working four Tuesdays each month.)

    "Like I told my agent before free agency started, I can't do anything the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday," Fisher said. "I've got Guard duty those three days, and I'm not going to be available to take any visits or do anything with any team."

    Fisher could have visited another team on Wednesday or Thursday, but to his surprise - and disappointment - he hasn't gotten many calls from NFL teams interested in his services.

    "I guess I'm not as good as I thought I was," Fisher said. "I was talking to my dad about it last night."

    With a strong finish this past season, Fisher was good enough to lead the Rams in sacks with 8 1/2, earning NFC player of the month honors for December.

    He's also disappointed that he hasn't heard much from the Rams about the possibility of re-signing with them.

    "I know that they've spoken a little bit with my agent, but nothing substantial has really come of it," Fisher said. "I have had a great time the last three years here, and I think I've done some good things here. Hopefully, that'll be enough to generate interest in me as a player going forward."

    The Rams are interested in re-signing Fisher, but only as their No. 3 defensive end behind starters Leonard Little and Anthony Hargrove - and at No. 3 prices.

    "I won't leave here to be a backup some place," Fisher said. "I believe that I'm good enough to be a starter. The way that things work here, Coach (Bill) Kollar rotates his defensive line a lot."

    Kollar is the Rams' defensive line coach.

    "I know I'm one of the few guys in the league that can play both left and right defensive end," Fisher said. "Here I can do that, and do that well in this defense. I wouldn't want to do that someplace else."

    But it probably will come down to how much interest there is elsewhere. Denver, which just lost defensive end Reggie Hayward in free agency to Jacksonville, is one possibility.

    "I've had a great time here, so St. Louis is most appealing to me," Fisher said. "Obviously, playing at the Air Force Academy out in Colorado, and following the Broncos, that's obviously a good situation there. I'm sure it's going to come down to the next couple of weeks or so, just figuring out where I can fit."

  2. #2
    UtterBlitz's Avatar
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    Re: Free agent Fisher is kept wondering about his future

    Fisher gets to take a spin in a F-15. That's way cool. I am jealous. My little brother was in the 101st Airborne division of the Army. He saw time in Desert Storm flying with the Apaches. Military guys get to do some cool stuff, but they certainly don't get paid for it.

    I don't mean to go off on a little rant here, but it seems to be building, so I might as well spill it.

    How is that the Rams are willing to deal with Pace and his ridiculous demands, and they blow off guys like Fisher? Fisher seems willing to negotiate and they don't even want to talk to him.

    Pace is full of ridiculous money demands and he blows off training camp and they still cater to him. I do not understand how an offensive lineman can be worth more that the quarterback. I just don't get this. Offensive linemen getting 15 million dollar signing bonuses is ridiculous. Offensive linemen getting 7 million dollar salaries is offensive to me.

    The cost to sign Pace is way up there, and the cost keeps going up with every lineman that signs a big contract. From recent history, Seattle just signed signed a seven year $52.5 million dollar contract with Walter Jones, and the Redskins signed Offensive Tackle Chris Samuels To A 7-Year, $46.5 Million contract. Pace turned down a 7 year $42 million contract last year. So let's face it, Pace is expensive, Offensive Tackles are expensive.

    I don't think Pace is providing that big of a benefit to the Rams. Bulger is still getting hit and scrambling to avoid defenses coming around, over, and through the line. Pace has not been perfect. Guys are getting around him. I know Pace is probowl material, but he is just one guy and the line is made up of five guys. The offensive line basically works on the weakest link theory and it is only good as the weakest man on that line. The Rams certainly need to bring in some new players for the line, but they need more than Pace and the cost for Pace is out of line in my eyes. I think a more balanced line would make sense. If Nutton can come in and play for a much smaller salary, there must be others out there.

    I sit here confused about a system and a society that puts big ol linemen at the top of the food chain. Bulger signed a four-year, $19.1 million contract in April of 2004. Is Pace worth more than Bulger to you guys? Is he?

    I'd rather see the Rams spend money on the defense. Should the Rams be talking to Fisher? Is he good enough to keep? What do you guys think of Fisher? If he is good enough to lead the Rams in sacks, you would think he would be worth keeping.

    "I know I'm one of the few guys in the league that can play both left and right defensive end," Fisher said. "Here I can do that, and do that well in this defense. I wouldn't want to do that someplace else."
    He sounds like someone worth keeping to me.

    Ranting over.... :redface:

  3. #3
    tim Guest

    Re: Free agent Fisher is kept wondering about his future

    I think he's good enough to keep, and I hope we do, but you have to consider the circumstances. They are talking about moving Lewis to DE, plus we have Hargrove and Jackson as a swingman. They are probably banking on Fisher not getting a ton of interest in free agency and signing him low-cost.

    As far as Pace goes... This offense really starts with the offensive line (as most do). If Bulger is not getting the time he needs for receivers to finish routes that take a bit to develop, then the offense will do nothing. Pace is amongst the top 3 linemen in the NFL, so yah I say he's worth the money in my opinion.

    Yah Bulger only signed for 19.1mil in '04, but he hadn't really proven a whole lot at that point - most people realized he was good, but could he hold up a whole season (or at least most of) ? If he keeps playing like he did last year I'm sure he'll be signing a new, much larger, contract in the future.

    - tim

  4. #4
    SFCRamFan Guest

    Re: Free agent Fisher is kept wondering about his future

    I say keep him. We need the depth and experience within the system. Why start over with someone else that does not know the system or is an unproven asset? He led the team in sacks and is a spark rotating in and out when healthy. I truly hope that we don't lose him. In addition, I do not want to lose him as an asset within the state. Serving full time in the Army National Guard (I transferred from the active Army years ago), I would hate to see him move to another state. He works in Public Affairs for the Air Guard and serves as a spokesperson and role model for the military in our state. His work with kids is an outstanding asset for us. I'm probably just a homer, since we serve under the same Joint Forces Command, but I hope that we keep him.

  5. #5
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Free agent Fisher is kept wondering about his future

    Bryce is a good player who has some upside, but I would be careful not to overspend on him.

    If the Rams can sign Pace long term, and work out a deal with Fisher that won't result in more than a $1.5 Million cap hit (a deal like Coakley's), I'd like to have him back. If someone is going to pay him a huge signing bonus, though, I hope its not the Rams.

  6. #6
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Free agent Fisher is kept wondering about his future

    This whole Fisher thing is kind of intriguing. I figured he would be a hot commodity once March 2nd got here, but I'm not hearing much press. At least not other than a scheduled trip to Seattle and the frustration of NOT hearing from the Rams.

    I hope he's back with us, but this has "overpay" written all over it. It certainly wouldn't be the first time the Seahawks overspent on our RDE.

  7. #7
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Free agent Fisher is kept wondering about his future

    I don't mean to pick apart your rant, but it sounded like you wanted opinions, so here's mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz
    How is that the Rams are willing to deal with Pace and his ridiculous demands, and they blow off guys like Fisher?
    One, Pace is much more important to the team than Fisher. Pace is a Pro Bowl starting left tackle, arguably the best in the NFC, whereas Fisher, if he returned, would be a situational player at best, rotating with starter Anthony Hargrove.

    Two, from what I've read, it doesn't sound like the Rams want to set the market for Fisher. They're waiting until he gets other offers and then seeing what they can do. If Fisher gets the kind of money other FAs have been getting this offseason (Anthony Henry $10M bonus, Ken Lucas $14M bonus, Gary Baxter $10.5M, etc etc), then he's not worth it. If he is offered Dexter Coakley money, perhaps the Rams cough up some dough then. But even then I'm not sure if Fisher would be worth that kind of price tag in a reduced situational role.

    Quote Originally Posted by UtterBlitz
    The offensive line basically works on the weakest link theory and it is only good as the weakest man on that line.
    I agree, but getting rid of Pace may in fact make the left tackle position the weakest link of that line. It's difficult to find an outstanding left tackle in this league, especially when you run a very demanding offense.


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