Martz wants to keep Pace
BY JIM THOMAS
Of the Post-Dispatch
Rumors continue to swirl that the Rams will trade Orlando Pace to the Giants.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Trade rumors continue to swirl involving the Rams, the New York Giants and left tackle Orlando Pace. But coach Mike Martz, in his first comments on the topic, did his best to shoot them down Sunday.
"They're exactly that - rumors," said Martz, who's part of the Rams' contingent attending the NFL scouting combine. "I think if we had a trade, I guess I would probably know about it. I have no knowledge of it, unless somebody's pulling a fast one on me. So I would just kind of push it to the side."
On Friday, sources told the Post-Dispatch and the New York City-area newspaper, Newsday, that the Rams had broached the subject of a trade with Giants officials. But those sources played down the talks, portraying them as a preliminary inquiry by the Rams, and well short of anything resembling substantial trade discussions.
On Sunday, Martz said it was still the Rams' intention to sign Pace to a multiple-year contract.
"Absolutely," Martz said. "We'd love to keep Orlando here. But I'm getting frustrated. This is the third year in a row that we don't have any contact with him. He doesn't return any calls. And he doesn't have an agent.
"So my frustration is increased. And at this point, I'm very impatient with the situation. To have him go through another offseason without any work, away from our players, come in late to camp - I just think this should get resolved real quickly. And needs to."
Counting offseason conditioning, minicamps, and training camp, Pace has missed a total of eight months of work with the team in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 offseasons.
"There's no question that affects his play," Martz said. "No question."
There also are financial implications to tagging Pace as a franchise player once again.
"That's another whole issue that is very significant," Martz said. "... I look at it from a selfish viewpoint, obviously, but here's an opportunity for him to step up to the plate and do the right thing, both on his account and on behalf of the organization."
As the team's franchise player, Pace counts more than $8.4 million against the cap - or almost 10 percent of the Rams' overall cap figure of $85.5 million. A multi-year deal could free up in excess of $3 million - money the team could use to sign free agents.