Jim Thomas Live
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 01:00 PM CST

BrandonRAMS: Hi Jim,
With Warner uncertain in coming back and Haley getting promoted to HC of the Chiefs, leaving a spot open for OC. How about Martz getting the chance to reunite with Warner? It sounds like a good fit, back in St.Louis Warner put up the greatest numbers of his career. Plus Arizona is a passing team(even though they are not trying to be), and who wouldn't want a offensive passing guru in Martz. Would we be able to see "THE GREATEST SHOW ON TURF(Grass, AZ don't have turf)II". Whats your thoughts on this take?

Jim Thomas: I know Mike can be high maintenance, but no one can deny that he is one of the sharpest offensive minds in modern football. There's no doubt Arizona is a passing team, and Whisenhunt is smart enough to realize that. To me, a key is getting Boldin back. It sounds like if Boldin is back that Warner's back. I'd go for it if I was Whisenhunt.

timmeno: Lets start at the top! Termanate the contracts of: Green(qb) Pittman(rb) Bennett(wr) Bell(og) Hall(dt) Stills(lb) Draft(lb) Johnson(s) Chavous(s) Trade Holt to Tenn for a 2/4th and Pace to wash for 2/4 and Benning(qb). How much cap space will this get us? Then sign fa Ot's barns and move him to ort and foster as a back up,boller-qb,jones-s,foster-rb.?

Jim Thomas: Still is a free agent; he's not under contract. Pittman is making the minimum wage for someone at his position. For now the cap hit makes it next to impossible to cut Bennett or Bell. And Hall was one of the Rams' more effective defensive linemen last season. He led the team in sacks.

dominic: Hey Jim:
Great article in sundays paper pertaining to the cap.You are right on,we need players!
1)I dont care what Drew Bennetts cap number is,get rid of him,hes a bust!And how does he escape a paycut if he doesnt get cut?
2)I love Torry and Orlando,but if they dont agree to a restructure,we need the money for players.Why not Kahlif Barnes of the Jaguars as a tackle?
3)And my first round pick is Crabtree and the best player in the 2nd round whether its a tackle or defensive player.Your thoughts?
4)And does your gut really believe they would cut Pisa? Omg,I hope so!
See you next week!

Jim Thomas: 1.) Do you cut Bennett at the expense of signing other players? Cutting him would reduce the amount of money you have available to sign other players in what already is a fairly tight cap picture. In order to negotiate a pay cut with Bennett, he has to approve. And if he doesn't approve, your only option is to cut him or trade him, which puts us right back to where we were originally with his cap hit.
2.) Khalif Barnes is an interesting name, and he has some skill at left tackle. But he's also had some off-field issues which much be considered before signing him to a big contract.
3.) Myself, I'd only go Crabtree if the Rams already had a starting tackle in the fold via free agency.
4.) I don't know about Pisa. The only reason I mentioned him in Sunday's article is that if Witherspoon moves to weakside linebacker, where does that leave Pisa?

Ray: Jim:
I read your article regarding the cap. Bottom line is we have to trade Holt and/or Pace. I know it's easier said than done. But you mentioned that Tennessee had offered their first round pick last year for Holt. I would reignite that trade possibility with Tennessee. I would even take a second round pick for Holt at this point, and I think a team might be willing to do that. With three picks in the first two rounds, we could draft Crabtree at No. 2, and could also grab a starting offensive linemen to replace Pace, and an impact defensive player. Your thoughts?

Jim Thomas: Again, the problem with the trade scenario is that you'd need to make the trade right away. (That is, by Feb. 27, the start of the free agency period) There's no need in getting millions of dollars in cap space if the trade takes place on the Day 1 of the draft. All of the top free agents will be gone by then.

tds: Hi Jim,

Thank you so much for these frequent chats during the off-season.

I'm intrigued with the idea of selecting B.J. Raji, the DT from Boston College using our #2 overall pick in the first round. Raji was dominant at the Senior Bowl and had an excellent senior year at BC. I'm also liking the idea of pairing him with his college teammate Ron Brace, DT from Boston College, using our second round pick, who is has prototypical NT size (assuming the Titans don't take him at #30 overall to replace Haynesworth). Our defensive line could potentially be a dominating unit relatively soon with Carriker moving to LDE, two huge DT's with Raji and Brace (both 320+ lbs), and Chris Long manning RDE. Little would be relegated to spot duty as a situational pass rusher with Carriker possibly moving inside on passing downs. James Hall could also figure in here if the Rams decide to the Giants four DE formation on obvious passing downs (Little, Carriker, Hall and Long).

I know we have many needs at many positions including both offensive tackles, center, backup RB, FB, MLB, Sam linebacker, SS (and possibly others depending on our ability to re-sign Atogwe and Bartell), but I stongly believe that we must address our glaring deficiencies in stopping the run first and foremost. Selecting Raji and Brace could allow them to develop together at the demanding DT position while other needs are addressed in free agency and/or future drafts. In addition, they are at least familiar with playing together on the same units from their days at Boston College. What would be the appeal to Spagnuolo and Devaney of using the Rams' early 2009 draft picks to select a couple of huge DT's to pair with Carriker and Long?

Jim Thomas: Raji AND Brace. Boy, you do want to shore up the run, don't you? You know, I wouldn't discount Spagnuolo being intrigued enough with Raji to take him that high. Remember, this was the worst run defense in terms of yards allowed in Rams franchise history.

28-Blast: My thought is that the Rams need to address a major defensive weakness, the inability to stop the run. The best way to stop the run would seem to be the drafting of a big, tough, true middle linebacker who could add some beef to the run defense and also cover in passing situations.

Since it appears that the Rams will lose Holt for cap reasons, the next weakness to be addressed would seem to be a big wide receiver to create a presence in the middle on paassing downs. (I'm assuming that the Rams can acquire a FA safety to replace Chavous.)

The quarterback can't throw if he's being sacked. The next need would seem to be a large, sane OT who can be worked into the O-line over the season. The current O-line should be sufficient to support a short passing game and a power running game. (I'm assuming that Pace is back and actually plays and that Romberg is used instead of Leckey.)

The next need would seem to be a FB who can pass block and lead-block for Jackson. (Is Hedgecock available?)

The next needs are DT, CB, LB, pass rusher. (I'm assuming that the Rams get back some of the wounded.)


Jim Thomas: All very reasonable, but again I would rank offensive tackle No. 1 on the need list.

SAMSTOWN JOEY: Hello Jim, Always a pleasure. I know the Rams have top personnel making cap decisions, but my opinion would be to trade Holt (I think the Giants are interested), and part ways with Little and Pace. This overhaul will not happen overnight, and lets face it, these guys have given us nothing as of late. I would even part ways with Bulger, however thier is nothing out there to replace him. Your Opinion?

Jim Thomas: Again, the cap ramifications of trading Bulger are steep, if the trade was made on or before June 1. We're talking an $8 million cap hit (for accelerated signing bonus) plus $3 million in guaranteed base salary in '09.
Little, I believe, has a chance to stay because even though he counts about $7.6 million against the cap, only $2.5 million of that is money that he will be paid in '09. So the Rams don't save much be releasing #91.

De'CodyFagg: Have you ever seen an injury as serious as mine at the combine? Do you know of any other people like me who have suffered a similar fate?

Jim Thomas: If you are indeed D'Cody Fagg, and somehow I doubt you're the former Florida State receiver who suffered a knee injury working out at last year's Combine, I've never heard of such a serious injury at the Combine. To answer your second question, I believe people of all backgrounds and positions are susceptible to injuries at the Combine, which is why some players bypass the workouts.

S. Monkey: Hi JT, thanks again for the chats.

The rumor about getting Tennessee's 1st round pick for Holt can't be true, can it? Surely Devaney was in charge of personnel at that point and would clearly realize that a solid WR late in his career is of lesser value than a 1st round pick. Especially if your team is in 100% rebuilding mode. Seems like it's something that is just getting floated out there, considering Holt is most likely a cap casualty at this point. I suppose my question is, was that offer definitely on the table?

Jim Thomas: This took place during the '08 season before the trade deadline. I heard it from a pretty reliable source.

Orlando Pace: Hey Jim,

Where am I going to end up playing next year?

Jim Thomas: I don't know. But I'm getting the feeling, more and more, that it won't be in St. Louis.

Marco: Hey Jim,

I've heard numerous reports on the St.Louis Rams cap situation. On ESPN they are saying the Rams have $4million to work with, other sites are saying $9million, $13million, and $14million. Do you know how much money the Rams have to worth with as of today.

Also, any word on anyone being released?

Jim Thomas: The latest numbers I saw, which were fresh from the NFL Players Association, showed the Rams at just under $14 million.

bfulton: Spagnuolo's Giant defenses were known for getting to the QB. But he also had Michael Strahan, Jason Tuck and Usi Umeniyora to do it. Any word on his feelings about the Rams current DEs?

Also, were getting to that point in the season where your Rams stories will be few and far between. What stories should we be looking out for in the coming months?

Jim Thomas: I've only talked to Spagnuolo twice (for a total of about 5 minutes) since his introductory press conference. He went totally underground once he started putting together his staff.

As for your second question, I don't take my Rams hiatus until late spring. We're still a few months away from that. We're in a little bit of a lull now what with the coaching staff hired and free agency still 2 1/2 weeks away. But the combine starts a week from tomorrow. I think you'll see plenty of stories from me in Feb., March, and April.

californiaramfan: Jim:

When can we expect a story on Spags? What does he want as a team identity? Type of defense? Although I don't expect him to announce the off season plans, can we get some insight as to what direction the Rams will take. Are you working on a story about Spags?

Jim Thomas: As I just mentioned, Spagnuolo has all but gone underground since his hiring. My early concern is that he won't be nearly as accessible as his predecessors to the media. We'll see. He is planning a media briefing on Thursday with the two coordinators.

Sam Rescone: I'm not one of those who thinks Pace & Holt should go, unless Holt wants to leave. Pace should restructure his contract. Both can still provide younger players with some education. I think D. Hall, Chavous, Minor and a couple others are gone. I know I'll get chastised for this, but I also don't think we should write off Wroten just yet. Let's see if he's learned any lessons. Remember, the past coaching regime didn't seem to "have it" when it came to motivating players..let's see what the new staff can do in that regard. If he screws up, he's gone. Finally, aside from McMichael, do you think any of the roster Tight Ends (like Fells) could be converted to a fullback?

Jim Thomas: Actually, Dante Hall and Travis Minor are scheduled for free agency. In other words, they are not under contract. Wroten has lost 16 games in the past two seasons do to violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy. I don't know how much more you need to see.

I don't think any of the tight ends are mobile enough in terms of what a blocking back is asked to do, to line up there on every down. I think the Rams need a true blocking fullback. Someone who can run and catch a little bit, such as Seattle FB Leonard Weaver, would seem to be ideal.

Joey: The Rams recently re-signed exclusive free agent QB Brock Berlin. Is he actually in their plans? Is Green? Will the Rams pickup an early round QB (Freeman?)or go with a developmental hit or miss guy (Harrell)?

Jim Thomas: As far as Berlin, all his signing means is that he will be part of the offseason roster, participate in the minicamps and OTAs, and presumably training camp as well. Whether Berlin makes to September might depend on whether the Rams pick up another QB via the draft or free agency.

I don't have a read on Green's status. He was at KC in 2006 when Dick Curl was the Chiefs' QB coach, however, so I'm sure Spagnuolo is getting some insight on Green from Curl.

Ramstorm: Jim: regarding the proposed "improvements" to the Ed, will that include refurbishing its horrid sound system, rethinking its absurd selection of motivational music and repentance from the incessant commercials??

Jim Thomas: No on all three counts, although personally, I thought the music was a little better and there were a few less commercials last season.

Yorkshire Rams Fan: Hey Jim,

It would appear that Spags has assembled a staff with offensive experience, but less experienced defensive coaches. This would suggest that he may be more hands on with the defensive side of the team. What is your take on the situation, who do you think will thrive in Spags defensive schemes? Which players look surplus to requirements?

Also, the retention of Steve Loney suggests that the Rams management believe the O Line coach did a good job, yet for the majority of the season performance was poor, so this must be down to the players. Do we expect to see a new starting Tackle, Center and Guard at the start of the season? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for your time.


Jim Thomas: There's no doubt that there is much more experience on the offensive side of the ball than defensive side. I think it's fair to assume that Spagnuolo will be more hands-on on defense. As for what players will thrive in this system, that all remains to be seen. The best coaches adjust their scheme to their personnel, so we'll see what Spagnuolo comes up with.
Loney's a pretty good coach. I think it is safe to say that the talent is lacking up front. I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see at least two new starters on the line next season.

RamFanInPA: Jim,
Any information regarding the resigning of Bartell and OJ?

If Holt and Pace are to be released or traded, should we expect this very soon in order to take advantage of the cap space in FA?

Jim Thomas: As of late last week, there was nothing new on Bartell and Atogwe.

Players can be released as of Monday (Feb. 9), but they cannot be traded until Feb. 27. If the Rams are intent on trading Holt and Pace, I think they would work it pretty hard at the upcoming Combine (Feb. 18-24) and see what happens.

iscian: The RAMS could have received a 1st round pick from Titans for Holt last year?If true what was front office thinking turning it down? No excuse for that blunder..........not even if the front office was going thru "changes". This should have been done.

Jim Thomas: It would be considered a blunder only if you think Holt is washed up. I know of several scouts and coaches who don't think that's the case.

virginiatom: I keep hearing the Rams have too much money tied up in Bulger to draft another quarterback high in the draft, even if that is what is needed. But my question is, if quarterback is the key to championships, what difference does it make what we put around him, if at the end of the day Bulger can't get the job done? His arm stength, and lately his accuracy, is questionable and even when he wasn't pressured last year, he acted as if he was. If we have a chance to draft the future of this team now, why not do it? The opportunity to do so may not be there next year, and almost every team that made the playoffs this year did so with a number 1 drafted quarterback. The Tom Brady late round gems are rare. Why let Bulger's contract hold the team and fans hostage? Wouldn't it be better to get a great quarterback now and get the other pieces later, rather than the other way around?

Jim Thomas: All good questions, but unless the Rams are totally sold on a QB at No. 2 overall _ that he can be a true difference-maker _ why go there? They have so many needs at so many positions. So at the moment, my question to you would be, do you really think Stafford or Sanchez are franchise-type QBs?

1978_rams_fan: Hi Jim:

Thanks for all of your work. Just wondering if the local fans have a grasp for how many of us Rams fans are out there besides STL? Many of us have a allegiance that goes back far beyond 1995 (to the Los Angeles days). The Rams have a rich tradition which I sometimes feel is lost or not understood by the local fans. I cannot begin to tell who excited we are that Chip Rosenbloom has carried his Dad's name proudly by taking charge and making all of the moves in the front office.

STL fans should be excited!

Jim Thomas: I do get a sense of this because of the e-mails I get from California as well as the LA Rams fans who participate in these chats. I think that will always be the case to some degree as long as LA doesn't have an NFL franchise. My sense is that most fans have been encouraged by what they've seen so far in the 12 1/2 months of Chip Rosenbloom's ownership.

FLRAMFAN: Hi Jim, Can you plot out, for those of us who can never remember, the upcoming dates for important deadlines and events in the upcoming months, such as free agency, the draft, etc. Thanks.

Jim Thomas: Feb. 9 (Monday): First day that players can be cut.
Feb. 18-24: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis
Feb. 19: Last day to designate franchise and transition players.
Feb. 26: Deadline for clubs to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents (3 years experience) and exclusive rights free agents (less than 3 years experience).
Feb. 27: Free agency and trading period begins.
March 22-25: Annual league owners meetings.
April 17: Deadline for restricted free agents to receive outside contract offers.
April 24: Deadline for clubs to match any outside offers on restricted free agents.
April 25-26: NFL draft

One last thing: Because the Rams have a new head coach, they are allowed to have three minicamps instead of the usual two. Normally, one of those three minicamps is held before the draft. One is held one week or two weeks after the draft. And the third is held the first or second weekend in June. Spagnuolo has yet to announce those dates.

Mevan Fernando: Jim, love your work. Rams fan writing all the way from Australia here, any prospective free agents that are on the Rams radar at this early stage? and how likely is it that Holt and Pace would be released?


Jim Thomas: I'm sure there are some free agents the Rams would like to pursue. But we'll have more of a realistic picture of who's out there after the franchise tags are all assigned in 10 days.
Right now, I'd say it's less than 50-50 that Pace or Holt will be back.

djjr11854: Jim,

I read an article yesterday that there is some thought as to cutting/releasing both Holt and Pace or one or the other to create cap space. With your insight do you think it's a serious possibility? After thinking about it for a while I think it would make very good sense, especially with Pace. Now with the new regime it's time to start making the offensive line younger and better. Your thoughts?

Jim Thomas: Yes, I wrote the article.

swing07: Who are the top free agent players being sought after by the Rams and in your opinion do you think Holt has anything left to warrant a return.

Jim Thomas: I think Holt has 2 to 4 years left. He may no longer be what you're ideally looking for in a No. 1 receiver, but I think he'd be an excellent No. 2 for somebody.

Brad in Des Moines: Jim,
I know the Rams need offensive line help, but can they afford to pass on Crabtree, a big time playmaker, with the 2nd overall pick in the draft? Can't they address the offensive line via free agency and in the 2nd round?

Jim Thomas: It all depends on if the Rams can sign a starting tackle in free agency. If they can, then I think Crabtree becomes a very real possibility.

Ed Johnson: Dear Jim
Since we know you have first ears on the happenings at Ram Park. Have you heard who is being cut or asked to redo there contact!

Jim Thomas: Stay tuned.

Matthew: Jim,

It appears to me that the rams certainly lacked the leadership skills and talent this past season of veterans Randy McMichael, Dante Hall & Drew Bennett just to name a few. Do you think these trades would be considered a bust up to this point? Also do you have any insights on what they plan on doing with this so called Help.

Jim Thomas: Hall is a free agent, he won't be back. As I've mentioned before, Bennett's cap situation makes him tough to cut this year. McMichael has a pretty high cap number for a tight end; so I'm not really sure at this point if he's back in '09.

RamFanInCA: Hi Jim,

Can you give us an overview of how much input a HC has in building the roster? Once camp starts, does the HC make cuts, does the GM do it, or is it a joint decision? If the HC wants someone released, does the GM do it, or would he override the HC and keep someone on the roster that the HC doesn't want? Thanks!

Jim Thomas: The way the Rams have consistently described how the setup will work following the front office makeover is that Billy Devaney has the final say on personnel, breaking any "ties" in free agency and the draft, but working very closely with Spagnuolo. But once the players are "on campus," Spagnuolo has the final say on who makes the 53-man roster.

Kuragous: If the rams choose to take a QB on the first day do you think Josh Freeman would be a good pick if hes still their in the 2nd round and do you have a mock draft

Jim Thomas: Some who are more schooled than me on this subject feel that Freeman is Akili Smith, Part II. In other words someone who has all the physical tools, but makes bad decisions and doesn't win. He's not overly accurate, either. That may sound harsh, but that's one school of thought.

RamFanInCA: Hi Jim,

Is Setterstrom still in the mix at center, or is that over?

Jim Thomas: Don't know. Will try to find out. I hear his rehab is on schedule, and he should be fill go in training camp.

RamFanInCA: Hi Jim,

A lot of folks favor us drafting Crabtree at #2. Don't you have to start someone that you draft that high? Assuming for a moment that we pick him, do you not start Holt or Avery? Or would drafting Crabtree mean that Holt is gone for sure?

Jim Thomas: As for myself, I'd love to see three-receiver sets of Crabtree, Avery, and Holt. I think a No. 2 has to start unless he's a quarterback.

Dave Van Stone: Jim - I don't want to come off as "Doctor Doom", but I think this is realistic: Ray Lewis and Albert Hainsworth aren't coming to St.Louis any time soon. Matt Birk is an interesting idea, but as with most top-line Free Agents, the Rams will have to substantially over-pay to obtain his services. Even if Pace and Holt's contracts are reworked, it appears there is limited cap room. I'm thinking the Rams participation in the Free Agent market will be limited to signing a few secondary players (at best) and filling the needs via the draft. Please tell me I'm missing something!

Jim Thomas: We're going to find out in less than 3 weeks.

NYC Rams Fan: Hi Jim,

In regards to the issues at wide receiver, I think this past season showed that when you lose an experienced veteran whose disciplined route running makes him a consistent threat in a timed offense, it has the effect of allowing defenses to focus on the receiving threat on the other side of the field while the young, raw and unproven wide receivers stumble through their growing pains. Would the new front office really allow the situation to further deteriorate by allowing Holt to depart and relying on Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Drew Bennett and maybe an unproven rookie (assuming we take Crabtree or Maclin)? I think it would be yet another mistake in terms of personnel to do that. I don't think Holt was under-utilized, or is getting too old. I think he just became the only real receiving threat, and it was easy for other teams to take him away and make the rookies beat them.

Also, with the top offensive linemen in the draft, are there any character issues that should be of concern (either work-ethic, or off the field)? I have to commend Scott Linehan for focusing on players with good character, although maybe they gave something in terms of raw talent. But no one wants a T.O. or Larry Johnson, or (heaven forbid) Lawrence Phillips. Just hard working players.

Jim Thomas: Well, I think you've hit on the crux of the wide receiver issue.

As for O-linemen, Mississippi OT Oher obviously has some issues, and there is some concern about weight with Alabama's Smith.

I wouldn't give Linehan too much credit on the character issue, either. (See: Dominique Byrd, Claude Wroten, Claude Terrell).

dan: Hi Jim

While everyone recognizes the need to upgrade the OL, do you think the Rams will be immediately improved if they take an OT with the #2 pick? That would put Pace or Barron on the bench, or off the team. I don't know if that would be a huge upgrade short term. Pace is a question mark, but if healthy, he's not a liability. Seems like an expensive insurance policy. My concern is this, in the NFC West, with some solid additions, this team might be able to sneak into the playoffs. I'm thinking a player that would immediately upgrade a gaping hole, and start immediately, is the way to go. Like an ILB.

Jim Thomas: Almost all of the OLs taken that highly have been plugged in right away and been instant starters.

Sal: How hot is the Michael Crabtree express, hot enough to trade down, if so what partners can you identify that want to move ahead of Seattle, and would you handicap both the possibility of Torry Holt being traded and his aproximate value.

do the rams have a viable candidate for Center position, Settestrom, Schuering? Has Incognito been a regular attendee at off season program and if so what is his attitude?

thank you for your time

Jim Thomas: We'll see what happens at the Combine. Will Crabtree work out there? And if he does, will he dazzle the scouts?

The offseason program doesn't start for another month-plus.

real Rams fan: More of a comment than a question: And thanks Jim for these chats

i was watching some games from this past season,,,,,And when Steve Jackson is healithy we is a top 5 back he plays as hard as any running back in the NFL he had over 1000 yards in only 11 full games ( whiich over 16 games tranlate to 1457 yards rushing) now thats production,,,I know he get hurt at times but he is a gamer...And Im so sick of ram fans saying we need to get him out of here...He is still young and is the type of player you build around ,,,,Those fans who say we should trade him: You guys don't know football stick to watching hockey

Jim Thomas: No doubt Jackson is the best player on the current roster, and when he's in the lineup even the 2008 Rams were a much more competitive team. The problem, of course, is he missed four games entirely and most of a fifth in both the 2007 and '08 seasons due to injury. And when he's been out of the lineup, the dropoff has been very dramatic. So with all the talk about wide receivers, offensive tackles, centers, and middle linebackers, the need for a strong No. 2 running back can't be overlooked.

Joe Stafford: Hello Jim, Thanks for taking my questions. I am impressed with the way that Billy Devaney has changed the front office at Rams park. Maybe now we got our ducks in a row, instead of everyone playing tug of war and cutting each others throats.

Jim Thomas: No disrespect to Billy, but the credit here should go to chip rosenbloom.

Kiko Sanchez: Are the Rams considering cutting or trading Holt? I think that would be a really bad move.

Jim Thomas: Yes they are.

Larry in Alaska: Knowing we need to get more cap space to be able to bring in players we need, releasing Holt and Pace who would give the Rams the most cap bennefit but may not make good football sence. So who would be the next group of players to be released? Is Drew Bennett on that list?

Jim Thomas: Please check out my story from Sunday's P-D. I mention that the next tier probably would be players such as Corey Chavous, Trent Green, even Pisa Tinoisamoa.

PA Rams Fan: If I were keeping a checklist looking foreward to next year, would it look like this?
Offensive Tackle, Center, Big Fat immoveable Defensive Tackle and a bigger Middle Linebacker?
If they thought all this could happen before or during the draft, would that mean Crabtree could be Ram with the #1 pick?


Jim Thomas: That's an ambitious list. And if the Rams could get even one or two of those guys in free agency, it would increase the chances of taking Crabtree.

Arlin: Hi Jim

If the Rams do release/trade Holt and Pace to free up cap space, any chance they will go after the CB from Oakland or the kid from the texans?

Jim Thomas: Possible. But let's see if either Asomugha (Oakland) or Robinson (Houston) gets franchised first.

Nick Rolando: Jim, thanks for doing the chats as always. I was wondering if you think Kroenke could be the future owner of the Rams? Also, now that Spagnuolo's staff is complete what do you think of it?

Jim Thomas: As far as Kroenke is concerned, he would have to divest himself of his majority interest in NBA and NHL teams to take over the Rams. (Of course, the league has been known to bend rules before.) Keep in mind also, that Kroenke also has the right of first refusal on any sale. So it would be a mistake to discount him in the process.

Memphis Ram: 1) How many players do the Rams have under contract right now?

2) What number of player contracts is the salary cap based upon? Is it the top 51 contracts or higher?

3) Jacob Bell trying Right Tackle. John Greco trying Center. These ideas were mentioned prior to the hire of Spagnuolo. Who was the brainchild? Haslett? Devaney? Loney?

Thank you for your time and efforts.

Jim Thomas: 1.) 52 at last check.
2.) Once we get to Feb. 27, the 51 highest salaries count against the cap.
3.) The potential Bell and Greco "experiments" were hatched under Haslett's tenure. I'm not sure if they will transfer.

Joe Stafford: Hello Jim, Are the Rams finally going to move Will Witherspoon back to outside LB and try to get a real MLB?

Jim Thomas: That seems to be the plan.

estretch80: jim are you upset that the rams might be getting rid of two future h.o.f. this offseason? because as a insane die hard ram fan i can not stomach it. thank you for your time.

Jim Thomas: I wouldn't say upset. But it would be sad to see these two mainstays of the Greatest Show on Turf squads go elsewhere. And beyond what they did on the field, Holt and Pace both have been high-character individuals and have represented the city and the organization very well.

Memphis Ram: Will Flajole be running Spagnuolo's defense or will he be running his own style? I ask because the Panthers defense didn't seem to be as aggressive as what the Giants were running under Spagnuolo.

Jim Thomas: I think it's a safe bet to say this will be Spagnuolo's defense.

TK: Hello Jim
What is your best guest on the cap hit from signing the rookie class of 09 plus bartell and atogwe if one of them is given the franchise tag?


Jim Thomas: With the Rams' current number (and position) of draft picks, I think it's safe to assume they'll be at about $6 million in the rookie cap pool. The franchise number for a safety is $6.34 million or about $3.5 million less than the franchise number at corner. (So if the Rams franchise anyone, it would be Atogwe and not Bartell.) So that leaves Bartell. I think there's a way to structure his deal so the first year would count $3 million (or even less) in the first year.

Ruben: Jim,
Thank you for keeping the chat's alive. I was extremely disappointed to read that the Rams might have turned down a first for Holt from the Titans. I felt that giving Haslett a no. of games to win to secure the coaching position would only effect who would get playing time. I never thought this would effect long term decisions. I was hoping, foolishly, that Devaney had control of personnel decisions last year, after Linehan was fired. What are your thoughts if the rumor was true?

Jim Thomas: Again, why would turning down a late first-round pick for the league's most productive receiver this decade be considered a bad thing _ unless you thought Holt was finished?

YoMurphy: One more Q Jim:
In your article this morning you said that the new renovations would let sunlight in through the dome. If not from a hole in the top, how does this work? I am having trouble imaging how the end-zones could let in much light...
Can this stadium survive structurally if they built a true retractable roof at some point?

Jim Thomas: Believe me, it's not going to be a ton of light. But in the end zone areas, some of the renovations will result in glass (or open areas) going all the way back to the concourses, some of which have windows on them.
I can't answer your second question. But I believe it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to "retro-fit" a rectractable roof on the current stadium.

eldiablo: Help me out, Jimbo. Which is a bigger deal: Rams vs. Seahawks at the Dome in October or Cardinals vs. NY Mets at Roger Dean Stadium March 6? My money's on Grapefruit ball.
And is "Spags" a ball fan?
I'll hang up and listen.

Jim Thomas: If you're a football fan, and every survey out there says there are MANY more football fans in this country than baseball fans, I'm sure you'd be watching the Rams-Seahawks duke it out in the refurbished dome.

Mark in NY: Hi Jim,

Although I believe Haslett deserved another year, it has been exciting watching things unfold over the last few weeks. Have you talked to Haslett? Where is he, and what has he been saying? I would guess he and Billy Devaney aren't the best of friends any more.

Anyway, I am getting very excited about the prospect of drafting Crabtree at #2. I know the top three tackles in the draft will be gone quickly, but what about the Rams next pick at #33 (or whatever). Do you know if there are other good tackles available?


Jim Thomas: I've talked with or texted Haslett frequently over the past few weeks. He's doing OK. His phone isn't ringing, and he's a little down about that. I don't think he harbors any ill will toward Devaney.

At OT, the 2 Smiths (Andre of Alabama and Jason of Baylor), plus Monroe of Virginia and Oher of Mississippi, all project as top 20 picks right now. I'm not sure about the second tier just yet.

Dejan: Hi Jim!
Now we are even closer to the free agency period, two weeks away any insight from rams park on whom do Rams may narow their interest when FA begins?
Also do you know what does Holt feel about restructuring his contract, is he willing to do that,or is there maybe some other solution (trade, HOPE NOT, HOPE THAT HE WILL STAY A RAM)?

Big Hi from Rams fans in Serbia!

Jim Thomas: Let me just put it this way: My sense is that Torry Holt has played his last game in a Rams uniform.

Paul: Jim,
Is Tye Hill a free agent or is he still under contract? If he is under contract, how much cap space would be freed if he is released. Thanks for your time!

Jim Thomas: Hill has 2 years left on his contract. There would be a net loss of about $225K if he was cut or traded on or before June 1.

Petey123: Jim, what's your guess on how the dome improvements will look? Sounds like they got some good ideas going.

Jim Thomas: I think they're a step in the right direction, but I don't think we're talking about massive changes. I would've liked to have seen an upgraded sound system as well.

midnighter67: Will Spags be able to get Wroten on the right track? Will he even try?

Jim Thomas: Why bother? Spagnuolo has so many other areas to work on.

BusinessSocks!: Hi Jim,
I know this is a business...but shouldn't some loyalty be shown to players like Holt and Pace? With what went down last year with Ike, I'm just not sure I can be ok (like what I feels really matters) with the release of these franchise players. I just hope they are willing to work something out so they can finish their careers as Rams. Do you think the Rams should go out of their way in the name of loyalty?

Jim Thomas: If it were my call, I'd at least try to talk to them about restructuring.

Memphis Ram: When does Torry Holt's roster bonus come due?

Jim Thomas: Don't know for sure. Usually with the Rams, they vary from the first day of the league year to about March 15.

AnnoyingSeniorBowlGuy: Let's say you played at Southern Cal and then you came to the Senior Bowl which is in the South and then you played for the South team. You'd probably have to feel pretty southern, right?

Jim Thomas: I think this chat is quickly heading south. With that, I'll say goodbye for now and see you all next week.