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Rams fit nicely under the cap--BRUCE NOT SIGNED YET
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Thursday, Mar. 02 2006
Unlike many of their competitors, the Rams have their salary cap situation in
good shape. They had a game plan in place, and were ready for the start of what
looms as a critical free-agency period for the franchise.
But just as they were about to step up to the starting line, the race was
postponed Thursday. Instead of starting today, the free-agent season has been
pushed back three days until Monday, with the NFL buying time in an attempt to
reach a labor extension with the players.
Although disappointed with the delay, president of football operations Jay
Zygmunt basically shrugged off the development.
"You just kind of go with the flow, you know?" Zygmunt said. "There's not much
you can do. It is what it is."
Zygmunt received notification of the delay shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday.
Coach Scott Linehan was working on his playbook when Zygmunt broke the news.
Teams now have until 5 p.m., St. Louis time, on Sunday to release players in
order to reach the salary cap limit. Because of the last-minute nature of the
delay, teams were even allowed to rescind any transactions made earlier
Thursday until 9 that evening.
As a result, the expected massive cap cuts - the so-called "Bloody Thursday" -
"I'll tell you one thing, they certainly took the blood out of Thursday,"
But Thursday's developments didn't prevent the Rams from doing what has been
expected for the past week. Namely, releasing middle linebacker Chris
Claiborne. Technically, Claiborne was cut with the designation "failed
physical" because he has not yet fully recovered from a patella tendon knee
injury that placed him on the injured reserve list Dec. 20.
Claiborne was signed to a three-year, $10.5 million free- agent contract last
year in the hopes that he would shore up the St. Louis run defense. But it
never happened. Claiborne played fairly well early in the season, but was only
on the field about half the time.
He was replaced whenever teams went to three- or four-wide receiver formations.
Opposing teams quickly noticed this tendency and took advantage of it by
running the ball out of three-receiver sets - with Claiborne on the bench.
Claiborne's play tailed off over the second half of the season. He was replaced
in the starting lineup by Trev Faulk on Nov. 27, and never got his job back.
When Claiborne was placed on IR, interim head coach Joe Vitt said Claiborne's
knee had been bothering him for the past month.
Claiborne finished his disappointing season with 49 tackles, 1/2 sack, and one
forced fumble. Releasing Claiborne frees up $1.5 million of additional cap
space. Unofficially, that leaves the Rams about $12 million under the 2006
salary cap of $94.513 million.
At least that's the salary cap figure under the current collective bargaining
agreement. If there's a new deal before Sunday, the cap for '06 could rise
above $100 million.
The delayed start of free agency in effect puts on hold for a couple of day any
contract extension for wide receiver Isaac Bruce. As things now stand, his $1.5
million roster bonus is due Monday instead of today.
Any efforts to re-sign Rams pending free agents Adam Archuleta and Ryan Pickett
also appear to be in limbo because a new deal could mean more money for free
"Sit around and wait," Zygmunt said. "At least it's the same rules for
Once the free agency period begins, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to
figure out the Rams' needs. Obviously, some of those needs will be addressed in
the draft, but the Rams have enough cap space to be active in free agency.
The Rams need two starting linebackers - a middle linebacker and a strongside
And with the possibility of Archuleta and Pickett both ending up elsewhere,
they could need a strong safety and a defensive tackle as well. Archuleta could
have one foot out the door already. He's expected to draw strong interest from
Washington, and perhaps Cincinnati, at the start of the free agency period.
However, there are several intriguing options at safety, including Buffalo's
Lawyer Milloy, Carolina's Marlon McCree, Minnesota's Corey Chavous, and
Baltimore's Will Demps.
Minus Pickett, the best defensive tackle prospect on the market is Seattle's
Rocky Bernard. He's a different type of player than Pickett, who's more run
defender than pass rusher. Bernard has excellent quickness for his size, and
blossomed into one of the game's top interior pass rushers a year ago, with 8
1/2 sacks in the regular season and two sacks in the Seahawks' NFC championship
game victory over Carolina.
At middle linebacker, the best free-agent prospect - hands down - is San
Francisco's Derek Smith, who registered 163 tackles a year ago. He has posted
100-plus tackles all nine of his NFL seasons. But there are other options here
as well, including Tennessee's Brad Kassell, and David Thornton of
Indianapolis, who has starting experience at strongside and weakside linebacker.
The Rams' most glaring need on offense is a pass-catching tight end, with
Denver's Jeb Putzier, Cincinnati's Matt Schobel, and New Orleans' Zach Hilton
Re: Rams fit nicely under the cap--BRUCE NOT SIGNED YETHe was replaced whenever teams went to three- or four-wide receiver formations. Opposing teams quickly noticed this tendency and took advantage of it by
running the ball out of three-receiver sets - with Claiborne on the bench"Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
Re: Rams fit nicely under the cap--BRUCE NOT SIGNED YETI know that Marmie was not the ONLY reason for our defensive struggles, but this concept still burns me up. How incompetent does a DC have to be to not see that teams are spreading the field and running out of it over and over and over again. Why Marmie never adjusted his personnel and scheme to this, I'll never understand.
Smith looks like an intriguing LB that could fill our need in the middle. One LB I like is Clint Kriewaldt. He isn't a starter, but would provide good depth. He's a solid tackler, and has played inside. :clanram:JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
"HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"Adm. William "Bull" Halsey