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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    No free-agent shortcuts for Rams

    Columnist Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    02/20/2009

    Rams fans dreamed big while pondering the NFL free agent marketplace. Our live chats on Mondays generated lots of big names.

    Fans fantasized about cornerstone offensive tackles (Jordan Gross! Max Starks!), fierce pass rushing defensive ends (Julius Peppers!) and a run-stuffer for the middle of the defensive line (Albert Haynesworth!).

    They wanted the Rams to make a big play on a shutdown cornerback (Nnamdi Asomugha! Dunta Robinson!) or a stud linebacker (Karlos Danby! Terrell Suggs!).

    But as we’re seeing, such elite talents are extraordinarily expensive and difficult to acquire. NFL teams put the franchise tag on 14 players this winter, setting a record.

    Carolina locked up Gross with a six-year deal, which includes $30.5 million during the first three years. Yes, that is a record for offensive linemen.

    Then the Panthers slapped the franchise tag on Peppers, assuring him $16.683 million this season. That doesn’t make Julius smile, because he still wants out.

    He gave the team a list of four teams he would like to play for, including the Cowboys. What happens now will be interesting, since the Panthers can set a high trade price for Peppers.

    Carolina would collect two first-round picks if another team signs Peppers while he is wearing the dreaded franchise tag. So the Panthers would like to seek a first-round pick plus, say, a couple of third-rounders in exchange for Peppers.

    Haynesworth is seeking a six-year, $72 million contract. He wants to become one of the highest-paid players in the NFL. Only teams with massive cap space need pursue Haynesworth if Tennessee fails to retain his services.

    The Steelers stuck the franchise tag on Sparks, despite having alternatives at tackle. The team is committed to paying him $8.451 million this year unless some other arrangement is made..

    The Raiders secured Asomugha with a three-year, $45.3 million deal -– a record-setter for that position. That deal features $28.5 million in guaranteed money.

    The Texans used the franchise tag for the first time, sticking Robinson with it. He is assured $9.957 million next season while his agent tries to hammer out a long-term deal with the team. (Despite being miffed by the tag, Robinson would like to stay in Houston.)

    The Cardinals tagged Dansby, assuring the linebacker $9.6 million next season. Arizona has many pressing contract issues, including Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin, so the NFC Champions will have an interesting offseason.

    And the Ravens tagged Suggs, opting to allow elder statesman Ray Lewis and fellow linebacker Bart Scott to explore their options.

    As we’re seeing, top teams don’t like to lose top players. Smart general managers know how to manage their cap numbers. The Colts just found room to sign cornerback Kelvin Hayden, a would-be free agent, to a five-year, $43 million deal.

    If Rams GM Billy Devaney was willing to spend their second overall pick (and other goodies) on one of those franchise players, other teams would listen. But he has too many holes to fill to get into that game.

    Some elite players WILL shake loose, despite the savvy cap management around the league. When the free agent marketplace opens on Feb. 27, some appealing names will be on the list.

    But Pro Bowl-caliber players usually gravitate toward other contenders.

    Crummy teams like the Rams have to overspend to get a high-end guy. Unless this franchise cashiers both Torry Holt and Orlando Pace, it won’t have the cap space needed to play that game.

    Bottom line: The Rams will have to nail the upcoming NFL Draft and fill other gaps with working-class free agents -– including young veterans looking to move from back-up roles into starting opportunities.

    Devaney will have to make every draft pick and every cap dollar count. There are no easy shortcuts on the road back to respectability.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: No free-agent shortcuts for Rams

    Maybe we are all jumping the gun? I never heard Spags or Devaney say we were going to make huge improvements in one year. Maybe the road back to .500 is year 2 of the plan and year 3 is when the big splash is going to happen?

  3. #3
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: No free-agent shortcuts for Rams

    The one FA guy I would love to see on our 2009 roster is center Jason Brown. He is only 25, would really upgrade our area of greatest need (O-line), and be a fixture for years. At 6'3" and 320 lbs he certainly fits the bill for "getting bigger." If he is the only FA we acquire, I'd be very happy !!

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    Re: No free-agent shortcuts for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Maybe we are all jumping the gun? I never heard Spags or Devaney say we were going to make huge improvements in one year. Maybe the road back to .500 is year 2 of the plan and year 3 is when the big splash is going to happen?
    I certainly hope this is not the case..Spags signed a 4 year contract so waiting til his 3rd year for that "big splash" would definitely be a disappointment..I hope, like we do, they expect to make a big change and impact to the team..Like I said in a different post a while back, I hope hes not just using the team as a stepping stone into his coaching tenure..

  5. #5
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: No free-agent shortcuts for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    Columnist Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    02/20/2009

    Crummy teams like the Rams have to overspend to get a high-end guy. Unless this franchise cashiers both Torry Holt and Orlando Pace, it won’t have the cap space needed to play that game.

    Bottom line: The Rams will have to nail the upcoming NFL Draft and fill other gaps with working-class free agents -– including young veterans looking to move from back-up roles into starting opportunities.

    Devaney will have to make every draft pick and every cap dollar count. There are no easy shortcuts on the road back to respectability.
    Sound like we can expect very little in FA. I guess that is the way of teams that plays so bad.
    :ramlogo:

  6. #6
    tdog08 Guest

    Re: No free-agent shortcuts for Rams

    If we get more cap room maybe it depends what happens with torry and pace

  7. #7
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    gap
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    Re: No free-agent shortcuts for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by eldfan View Post
    Sound like we can expect very little in FA. I guess that is the way of teams that plays so bad.
    I'm not sure that this is true.

    Over the years we have lost quality backups because the player had an opportunity to be a starter somewhere else. With an upgrade to the FO, what appears to be a better Owner, and a big name coach, we may actually be on the plus side in this scenario. We may actually get players that would take average pay for a chance to be the starter at their position.

    gap

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