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Rams check out Long, tell Amendola farewell
By Jim Thomas
While Jake Long dined with Rams officials Wednesday night, Danny Amendola packed his bags for New England. Apparently intent on racking up frequent flyer miles, Brandon Gibson began a tour of AFC cities. Rodger Saffold wouldn’t be pleased about a possible move to right tackle, his agent said.
And all was quiet on the Steven Jackson and Louis Delmas fronts, outside of a couple of rumors. And that’s the way it was on day two of NFL free agency, St. Louis style.
Long, the left tackle from Miami and former No. 1 overall draft pick, arrived Wednesday for his free agent visit. There were erroneous reports early in the day that he and the Rams had agreed to terms – reports that were quickly squashed by team officials who pointed out that not only had there not been an agreement, there were no “terms” as of yet.
Long’s much-anticipated physical came and went, showing some wear and tear on the five-year pro but no red flags. The dinner was an opportunity to get to know coach Jeff Fisher and team officials a little bit, and an opportunity to gauge if Long and the Rams were a fit. That’s a key thing with Fisher. If he or a member of his staff doesn’t have a past relationship with a free agent, a visit is a necessity.
There’s a possibility a deal gets done today, but the Rams were intent on performing due diligence before investing millions in a player who has had biceps, triceps, knee and shoulder injuries over his five NFL seasons.
If the Long deal gets done and he sets up shop at left tackle, Saffold won’t be happy.
“I’m sure if you would ask Rodger what position he’d want to play, he’d want to be a left tackle,” said Saffold’s agent, Alan Herman. “That’s his position. It’s a paying position in the league. He’s played left tackle his whole life since he was a little kid. Why would he want to move to the other side?”
For now at least, Herman stopped short of saying Saffold would request a trade if that were the case.
“See what happens, and we go from there,” Herman said. “If they sign the guy (Long), I’m sure Rodger’s going to be the first one to say: ‘I want to be a left tackle.’ What happens at that point?”
Herman indicated that the most likely outcome would be that Saffold plays out the final year of his contract and reaches free agency. He’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2013 season.
Delmas, the safety from Detroit, also visited Wednesday and underwent a physical. He has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of knee issues. Delmas was not invited to dinner. Instead, he left St. Louis reportedly for a visit to San Francisco, which lost Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson to Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
There were rumblings – underline “rumblings” – out of Detroit that the Rams were cooling on Delmas. But the opposite could be the case, because the Rams made a contract offer to Delmas before he left town. The safety market is glutted. According to the Dallas Morning News, no fewer than 11 starting safeties have been cut this offseason. That’s in addition to an already crowded field of safeties who are unrestricted free agents, plus what’s widely regarded as a deep draft pool at the position.
As for Amendola, it has been clear for at least a week that if the market materialized as expected by Amendola’s agents, that he would go elsewhere. That’s because the Rams were willing to go about $4 million a year on a contract and that’s it. Amendola wanted $6 million plus.
Not long after the Patriots stalwart Wes Welker agreed to terms with Denver, Amendola agreed to terms on what the NFL Network and others said was a five-year, $31 million deal. That’s $6.1 million a year. Interestingly, the deal included only a modest $10 million in guaranteed money, perhaps a cautionary approach taken because of Amendola’s injury history the past two seasons.
Amendola has played in only 12 of 32 games over that span, and left early or was at less than full strength in several of those 12. For all practical purposes, the door officially shut on any Amendola return to St. Louis when the Rams signed Tennessee tight end Jared Cook to a five year, $35.1 million deal that includes $19 million in guaranteed money. The overall value of the deal could exceed $38 million if incentives are met. Cook’s contract counts only $4 million against the cap in 2013.
Cook may be a tight end, but in effect he’s the Rams’ new slot receiver because that’s where he lines up most of the time.
Amendola played just one game for the Rams in 2011 before suffering season-ending elbow and triceps injuries. Nonetheless, Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels – now with New England – became a big fan of Amendola from what he saw previously on tape, during spring practices and training camp.
Amendola’s mother lives in Boston and his father is from there.
Another Rams wideout who is headed out the door, Gibson, will complete a free-agent visit with the New York Jets today. Unless he reaches a deal with the Jets, he will head out to Miami tonight and then Tennessee on Friday night.
Last but not least, there were rumors that Green Bay was talking to Jackson about a three-year deal, but nothing substantial. Before all is said and done Atlanta is expected to make a run at the three-time Rams Pro Bowler.
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