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Martz Angry About Barron's Absence
Saturday, August 6, 2005
By Nick Wagoner
As his frustration with the contract impasse of first-round choice Alex Barron and the continued problems at right tackle builds, Rams’ coach Mike Martz’s frustration with agent Roosevelt Barnes hit its crescendo on Saturday morning.
“Let me say this about this agent,” Martz said. “This isn’t about the player, this is about the agent. What this kid is going to get out of his contract, the difference is insignificant. What this agent is doing is recruiting other players by doing this stuff. He’s thumping his chest out there. It’s bad for professional football, it’s bad for the business of being an agent, it’s just wrong. He doesn’t have this kid’s best interest at heart. I want you to print that. I want other players to know…The difference (in money) is so insignificant. What he is doing is promoting himself as an agent and that’s just not right.”
With his absence on Saturday morning, Barron entered his 10th day of missed practices and workouts because Barnes and the Rams had not agreed to contract terms. It has been speculated that there was no contract agreement because Barnes is waiting to see what kind of contract Minnesota’s Erasmus James, the player picked before Barron was going to get in a contract. That might not necessarily be the case, but attempts to reach Barnes on Saturday afternoon were unsuccessful.
But Dallas’ Marcus Spears, the player who went one slot behind Barron at No. 20 has already signed his deal, meaning the amount of money Barron should get is already essentially decided. If there is any disagreement on what that money should be, it probably comes down to something in the thousands or the short end of the hundreds of thousands, numbers that equate to pocket change for most NFL players.
“For these kids to stay out for the differences that they are talking about is just not right,” Martz said. “I know that we have moved on this thing pretty good. I know that there is no good reason for him not to be here other than the agent is posturing. While he is doing this his name is in the paper and those good things. The heck with them. I don’t have to deal with those guys thank goodness. I do know what’s going on. I feel bad for Alex because he is a good kid and I know he wants to be here.”
Because of Barron’s absence, he has missed out on a number of valuable things that could help him. Since most athletes get the real big money in their second contract, Barron’s missing time now could hurt his value down the road.
Barron spent most of his time at Florida State playing left tackle and struggled with the transition to the right side during the team’s June mini-camp. Had he been able to get in camp on time, he certainly would have been getting plenty of repetitions in the past 10 days and even got the opportunity to work with Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater on a daily basis.
Those missed opportunities have only stunted Barron’s progress and Martz said it would be quite difficult for Barron to work his way into the starting lineup, even if he arrived soon.
“That’s impossible to be ready to play,” Martz said. “There’s no way, there is just no way. There is no way in the world, in this offense, the high level at which these guys are playing…A year ago, two years ago we would have had to play him somewhere. Last year, he would have been playing, but we have moved on. To have a chance to play, he needs to get in here. I know Alex well enough to know that he wants to be in here and just the bad advice is something he has received.
“I don’t know how he can. All the foundation of what we do, the calls, all the things we do. Look at all of the blitz periods and nine on sevens that he has missed, how do you make that up? I don’t know how you do that.”
In fact, Martz said the Rams are further along than ever in terms of installations offensively and Barron is so far behind at this point that he would have to be near genius level to pick up the offense quickly enough to win the right tackle job.
“We are midseason in terms of what we have in, which is a first for us,” Martz said. “He’s not going to come in and get caught up. I’m not going to say he can’t necessarily, but if he does then he is a phenom. He’s going to have to prove that.”
Barnes got off to a bad start with the Rams even before training camp started. Martz said Barnes advised Barron to skip the Rams’ 10-day rookie camp that takes place before training camp opens.
With no real prior relationship with the Rams, Barnes is certainly not making a good first impression. He represents punter Reggie Hodges, receiver Dante Ridgeway and defensive back Michael Stone, but before that he has had little contact with the team on any players.
Martz insisted that the reason Barnes has not gotten a deal done with the Rams boils down to Barnes’ desire to help his recruiting efforts for next year’s prospects.
“The kid doesn’t know that,” Martz said. “Alex doesn’t understand that. You think he talked to him about that? No. If he can squeeze this more and we leapfrog the guy that’s in front of us financially he’s going to look like a genius and he can recruit better next year. What’s that mean to Alex? Well he would start camp and maybe he’s got a bit more money, but he just comes in on a bad note. There’s enough of these agents unfortunately like this guy that is representing him, but it just makes it difficult.”
The biggest problem in the whole deal might not lie with the Rams, Barnes or Barron, but the way NFL rookie contracts are handled as a whole. There is no set scale for what rookie salaries should be and most players and agents wait until the guys around them sign so they know what their expected return value would be.
One solution that has been mentioned in recent weeks is going to a format more like the NBA, where rookie contracts are guaranteed at a certain level and operated on a sliding scale based on where the player is drafted. There is no guessing or posturing to do and the players already know what they are going to get once they get drafted.
Martz said he would be in favor of something similar to that structure in the NFL.
“To me that’s the best way,” Martz said. “They are going to make their money on what their value is in the league on their second contract. To me that makes the most sense. I have nothing to do with that obviously. It takes all of the stress out of it for the kids. They can prove now their worth in the league. I have always felt like that’s the fairest way to do it. Their real value hasn’t been established yet. It’s guesswork more or less.”
A move along those lines would take some doing and have its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it could be something that would eliminate the frustration that inevitably builds on both sides of the fence in these types of contract negotiations.
Re: Martz Angry About Barron's Absence
Is this the best way for Martz to handle the situation? Is he saying this is ALL the agent's fault? I hope this doesn't turn into the next public Ram distraction. I think a little more patience for the process to play out would have been the better course of action at this point in time.
Re: Martz Angry About Barron's AbsenceHe [Barnes] is thumping his chest out there. It’s bad for professional football, it’s bad for the business of being an agent, it’s just wrong. He doesn’t have this kid’s best interest at heart. -- Coach M. Martz
Re: Martz Angry About Barron's AbsenceOriginally Posted by r8rh8rmike
Re: Martz Angry About Barron's AbsenceOriginally Posted by Evil Disco Man