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Rams give Pace franchise tag again for 2005
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Stop me if you've heard this one ...
For the third year in a row, the Rams have designated left tackle Orlando Pace as their franchise player. The two sides can work on a long-term contract until March 15 but then would enter a "blackout" period when negotiations must cease until mid-July.
If no deal is reached, Pace would have to sign a one-year tender to play for the Rams next season. The franchise number for offensive linemen this year is $7,424,000, but Pace would receive about a million more than that. Under league guidelines, he is entitled to the franchise number, which is the average of the five highest-paid players at his position, or 120 percent of his 2004 salary, whichever total is higher.
He was paid $7.02 million last year, so his 2005 salary would increase to $8,424,000.
Pace, 29, is in Hawaii this week for his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl and could not be reached to comment. The seven-year veteran out of Ohio State was the No. 1 overall selection in the 1997 draft.
After getting the franchise tag in 2003, he skipped training camp, finally signing the tender and reporting. Last summer, after turning down a seven-year contract for more than $42 million, he held out even longer, again missing the entire camp and also all four preseason games. He rejoined the team less than a week before the season opener but started that week vs. Arizona.
Pace split with his longtime agent, Carl Poston, last September. A players association representative confirmed Friday that Pace has not yet hired a new agent, which probably explains why the franchise designation was made almost two weeks before the NFL deadline.
Rams may sign lineman with MS
General manager Charley Armey reported Friday that the Rams are close to signing Khiawatha Downey, a 6-foot-4, 332-pound offensive lineman who was an NCAA Division II All-American at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Downey, a North Carolina native who started for two years at Division I Pittsburgh before transferring, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001. He is believed to be the only player with MS, an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system, to attempt an NFL career.
Downey wasn't drafted last year. "Teams backed away because of MS," he told reporters at the time. NFL scouts "gave me a third-round rating during the season, and then all of a sudden those same people don't want to pick me because they confirmed that I had MS."
The San Francisco ***** signed Downey as a free agent and took him to training camp. But he suffered a knee injury and was released after reaching an injury settlement with the team.
Re: Rams give Pace franchise tag again for 2005Originally Posted by RamWraith[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
Re: Rams give Pace franchise tag again for 2005Interesting. Can a player with multiple sclerosis play the game?