Glover signing means overhaul of Rams defense is finally underway
BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
By signing La’Roi Glover, the Rams took their first step toward building a respectable defensive unit for 2006.
The team took money it had been paying young and inconsistent defensive tackles Damione Lewis and Ryan Pickett and reallocated it to a well-respected, perennial Pro Bowl performer.
As a New Orleans Saint, Glover played at a high level for Jim Haslett. Now he will provide Haslett, the Rams' new defensive coordinator, some badly needed leadership on the defensive front.
The Rams are still trying to get big Jimmy Kennedy over the hump. Sticking Glover next to him should speed the process, assuming that Kennedy really wants to become a good NFL player.
Haslett also needs to develop Anthony Hargrove at defensive end and get Leonard Little back to playing at a Pro Bowl level. Glover’s daily presence should help those efforts as well.
All along, the Rams feared that Pickett would draw too much interest as a free agent. All along, the club feared his price tag would become greater than his proven value.
Re-signing Pickett at large money would be a gamble, since Ryan hasn’t become a consistent playmaker at defensive tackle. He could still go either way in his career. At times, he has been a force for the Rams. At times, he disappeared.
Pickett has clearly been the best of the three No. 1 picks the Rams made at defensive tackle, but he didn’t quite become a franchise cornerstone. The Rams have many defensive needs, so they can’t place such a large bet on a player that might or might not became a defensive force.
Glover was a solid, high-end signing in the free agency marketplace. If Pickett or Lewis still fits back into place at the right price, great -– but the team is now covered if one or both of those players move on, as expected.
Is Glover still a dominant NFL player? Probably not.
He will be 32 next season. He made the ’06 Pro Bowl on reputation, since his role in Dallas diminished after the Cowboys switched to a 3-4 defense.
Jason Ferguson, a natural nose tackle, eventually replaced him in the starting line-up. Glover only recorded three sacks and 28 tackles, but he felt very good about his performance prior to getting benched.
“We were in the top five in total defense,” Glover told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Up to that point, when Ferguson was handed the job, I think I did an admirable job. And to make the Pro Bowl made me feel pretty good.”
Dallas let him go rather than pay him a $1.5 million roster bonus. The Cowboys could have asked him to restructure his contract, which would have counted $7.2 million against the cap this season, but the management team chose not to.
Owner Jerry Jones admired Glover’s contributions, but the Cowboys had other needs to tend to. So Glover joined an all-star list of defensive cap casualties, including Sam Adams (Bills), Brentson Buckner (Panthers), Ted Washington (Raiders) and Trevor Pryce (Broncos).
“It's not always a negative,” Glover told the Star-Telegram. “I still feel like I have a lot of good years left.”
He got a three-year, $12 million dollar contract from the Rams. If Glover can give the team a couple of good seasons while helping others progress, that will be money well spent.
Now the talent search can move on to linebacker, where the Rams need to add at least two impact players, and to safety, where the team needs a big hitter to shore up its lagging run defense.
But the overhaul is finally underway -– so today is good day in Ram Nation.
Re: Glover signing means overhaul of Rams defense is finally underway
Thanks for the article. I wonder who is going to be visiting St. Louis in the next few days.?