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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Next up for Rams is finding players

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Feb. 08 2009
    The front-office pieces are in place, with a "cap guy" (Kevin Demoff) and a pro
    personnel director (Mike Williams) recently hired and currently on duty at Rams
    Park.

    As early as Monday, coach Steve Spagnuolo could announce what are believed to
    be the final two hires on his staff a quality control coach on offense and a
    cornerbacks coach on defense.

    So now it's time to find some players for a Rams franchise that has lost 27 of
    its last 32 contests. This past week, much of the focus shifted from putting
    together a staff to evaluating personnel. Williams and many of the coaches
    spent hours grinding away on tape of prospective free agents.

    Trouble is, the Rams are a modest $14 million under the 2009 salary cap ceiling
    of $123 million. At first blush, $14 million seems like a decent war chest. But
    the Rams' rookie salary cap the amount of money they will be allocated to
    sign draft picks projects at about $6 million this year.

    Much of the remaining money will be needed to re-sign pending free agents
    Oshiomogho Atogwe, a safety, and cornerback Ron Bartell. (All indications are
    that they remain top priorities for the Rams, even with the hiring of a new
    head coach.)

    And if the Rams end up placing the franchise tag on Atogwe, that designation
    alone eats up $6.34 million of cap space.

    So what does that leave for signing outside players once the free agency and
    trading period begins Feb. 27?

    Not much.

    Devaney, Spagnuolo and Demoff have tough decisions to make if they want to
    clear cap room to be active in free agency. Where will the money come from?

    Currently, five Rams count at least $7.4 million each against the cap in 2009:
    wide receiver Torry Holt ($10.2 million), offensive tackle Orlando Pace ($9
    million), quarterback Marc Bulger ($8.5 million), defensive end Leonard Little
    ($7.6 million) and running back Steven Jackson ($7.4 million). Combined, those
    five players account for $42.7 million, or nearly 35 percent of the team's 2009
    cap space.

    Despite his detractors, Jackson remains the team's best player. He's not going
    anywhere. Bulger has had two down years in a row, and it would be
    understandable if Spagnuolo wondered whether Bulger truly is a franchise-type
    quarterback. But the cap hit from trading or releasing him is prohibitive.

    Regarding Little's cap count, the Rams would save only a modest $2.5 million by
    cutting or trading him. So it doesn't make much sense to dispatch him,
    particularly because he remains the team's top pass rusher when healthy.

    That bring us to Holt and Pace. The Rams would free up $8 million of cap space
    by cutting or trading Holt by June 1. They'd save $6 million by cutting or
    trading Pace by June 1.

    So in essence, the Rams would double their cap room from $14 million to $28
    million by dispatching Pace and Holt. These would not be easy decisions. Pace
    and Holt have been to seven Pro Bowls a piece. They were mainstays of the
    Greatest Show on Turf squads. They have conducted themselves in exemplary
    fashion on and off the field in St. Louis.

    But with the arrival of Spagnuolo, the franchise is two coaching tenures
    removed from the "glory days" of Rams football. Will the wave of change
    sweeping over Rams Park extend to Pace and Holt a pair of Hall of Fame
    candidates?

    NFL scouts, front office executives and coaches offer a variety of opinions
    regarding Pace. Some feel he's near the end of a great 12-year career and
    doesn't have much left. Others feel he's still an effective player, although
    not what he was a few years back.

    The danger, of course, potentially comes from casting Pace, 33, aside too soon.
    The best recent example is left tackle Willie Roaf, who enjoyed several fine
    seasons with Kansas City after being tossed aside by New Orleans.

    And if Pace goes, the Rams' hand would be forced. They'd have to add a starting
    tackle via free agency, the draft or trade.

    Holt, 32, doesn't have the deep speed he once had, in part because of knee
    problems and in part because of advancing age. But he was misused and
    underutilized for much of the '08 season by a Rams staff that seemed intent on
    force-feeding Donnie Avery into the No. 1 receiver role.

    Over the last month of the season, Holt flashed some of his old form. His
    production over the last four games would have translated into 76 catches for
    1,080 yards over a full season.

    If Holt goes, would the Rams be comfortable depending on youngsters Avery,
    Keenan Burton and Derek Stanley, plus disappointing veteran Drew Bennett, as
    their core receivers? Holt's departure might tilt the Rams strongly toward
    taking Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree with the No. 2 overall pick. Or trading
    down for Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, who's widely regarded as the next-best wide
    receiver in the draft behind Crabtree.

    At the Senior Bowl last month, one veteran scout said the word was that the
    Rams were floating the names of Pace and Holt as available via trade for a
    third-round pick.

    League sources told the Post-Dispatch that an NFL club believed to be
    Tennessee was offering a first-round pick for Holt before the trading
    deadline last fall. The Rams decided against making the trade, the source said.

    Of course, another option to free up cap space is simply restructuring the
    contracts of Pace and Holt. The agents for Pace and Holt did not return phone
    messages left Thursday and Friday.

    The trading period doesn't resume until Feb. 27. If the Rams are intent on
    using a trade of Pace or Holt to free up cap space for free agency, the players
    would have to be moved right around that time.

    It would make no sense to wait until April, just before the draft, to make the
    trade, because by then all of the top free agents will be gone. Invariably,
    most of the ever-dwindling number of quality free agents are off the shelves by
    mid-March.

    Teams can begin releasing players Monday to free up cap space. And there are
    cap-saving options on the roster other than Pace and Holt, although none that
    would free up as much money. For example, releasing strong safety Corey Chavous
    would save $1.2 million. Releasing linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa would free up
    $2.25 million.

    If the Rams decide to go in another direction for a backup quarterback,
    releasing Trent Green would save $1.3 million. And releasing defensive tackle
    Claude Wroten, who was suspended for the entire '08 season for violating the
    NFL's substance abuse policy, would free up $726,000.


  2. #2
    blood85 Guest

    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    Let most of these guys go, Pace,Holt, Chavous.....it's time to ReLoad. The truth hurts, but the future of the team depends on it. It's a cruel business. Bottomline.

  3. #3
    Mooselini Guest

    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    If we cut Pisa, it's going to be a huge mistake. The guy still has it, and he's only going to free up as much as Little will free up. Keep both of these guys.

    As for Holt and Pace, I don't mind Pace leaving. He's been a great Ram. But we need to find his replacement anyways...

  4. #4
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    We got old fast Holts want out anyway so I see him gone. I wounder If they would ask Bulger to restructure his deal.
    :ramlogo:

  5. #5
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    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    Releasing any of these players is only a good idea if the cap room is then well spent.

    For example, if you cut Holt, and doing so allows you to sign a top OL (i.e. Jordan Gross), which then allows you to have the freedom to consider Michael Crabtree in the draft, that makes sense.

    If you cut Holt and don't sign any significant FA, then I don't really see the point.

    Same thing with Pace. If you cut him, you pretty much have to either sign a guy like Gross or draft an OT in the first round. Let's say you decide to take Monroe with the second pick. The money then saved from cutting Pace could be used to sign a top center or maybe even raid the Cardinals roster by going after Boldin or Dansby.

    In the end, it has to be a double-move.

  6. #6
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    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    WOW Boldin in a rams uni now that sounds like fun to me

  7. #7
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    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce4life View Post
    WOW Boldin in a rams uni now that sounds like fun to me
    I think kidnapping him is the only way he will come here, but I really like the draft Crabtree idea!

  8. #8
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    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    It would be sad to see our future hall of famers go (Pace and Holt). But that's the NFL , go Rams 09 !!!!

  9. #9
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    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    I don't know why people think cutting Holt automatically means Crabtree. I think we would still go offensive line with the first pick and go after a LB in FA. Cutting Holt to me, just means we are going to run the ball more and focus on building a better defense

  10. #10
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    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    Releasing any of these players is only a good idea if the cap room is then well spent.

    For example, if you cut Holt, and doing so allows you to sign a top OL (i.e. Jordan Gross), which then allows you to have the freedom to consider Michael Crabtree in the draft, that makes sense.

    If you cut Holt and don't sign any significant FA, then I don't really see the point.

    Same thing with Pace. If you cut him, you pretty much have to either sign a guy like Gross or draft an OT in the first round. Let's say you decide to take Monroe with the second pick. The money then saved from cutting Pace could be used to sign a top center or maybe even raid the Cardinals roster by going after Boldin or Dansby.

    In the end, it has to be a double-move.
    I agree with you 100%. As well the Rams can go over the cap as long as they get to or under before the deadline. I would love to see Boldin in a Rams uniform. I cant also help but think about the possibility of Osuamaga from the Raiders(C.B) and what about Lito Sheppard the guy is unhappy in Philly he would be such a compliment to Ron Bartell. We still need a strong safety whether it be F.A of the draft. If we are to get better at stopping the run we need a Strong Safety.

  11. #11
    HornIt Guest

    Re: Next up for Rams is finding players

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    If we cut Pisa, it's going to be a huge mistake. The guy still has it, and he's only going to free up as much as Little will free up. Keep both of these guys.

    As for Holt and Pace, I don't mind Pace leaving. He's been a great Ram. But we need to find his replacement anyways...
    Where's Pisa going to play? Witherspoon is moving over to the WILL.

    Unless you expect the rebuilding to happen in one year and the Rams will have a serious shot at some hardware next year, now is the time to move on without the expensive, old vets. Hopefully they can get something of value for them in trade.

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